As your organization’s IT landscape expands and traditional boundaries dissolve, it can be difficult to identify high-risk devices, applications, and users in order to develop a remediation plan. Your enterprise attack surface contains hundreds of attack vectors and is actively increasing. Reactive measures to plug holes with point products and controls are often inadequate, and can be costly.
As you move forward, staying ahead of security threats will require a strong, but flexible, plan. Once you have identified which assets are most critical to your organization and evaluated the security and compliance gaps, you can create a course of action for prevention and remediation.
Identifying Your High-Priority Assets
There are two important steps to identifying at-risk assets. The first, and most important, step is understanding what the consequences would be if an asset were to be compromised.
Organizations today are deploying more software than ever. The magnitude of applications security teams would have to scan for vulnerabilities, coupled with the cybersecurity skills gap, makes it impossible for them to identify and patch every single vulnerability in the network. Instead, they must identify their priority assets – those that would cause serious damage to the business if they were compromised – and focus on ensuring they are regularly updated and secured. An asset that is low risk and layers removed from the perimeter cannot take time away from security efforts on more critical information, such as applications that contain customer data and payment information.
Understanding your top priority assets and where they live within your distributed network is the first step to formulating an effective security strategy. Critically, this step allows security teams to identify which controls and tools must be deployed to secure these high-priority assets.
Identify Security and Compliance Gaps
The second step in securing your priority assets is discovering if there are security or compliance gaps within the application, software, or operating system that a cybercriminal could leverage as an entryway into the network. For example, unattended vulnerabilities could be the cause of some security gaps. Vulnerabilities come in many forms, but are typically one of the following:
According to VulnDB, 76.8 percent of all vulnerabilities disclosed in 2017 had fixes available. These types of vulnerabilities can be fixed in as few as 24 hours. On the other hand, the average time it takes vulnerabilities without a fix immediately available – from disclosure to full repair – is 37.5 days.
Given these timelines, it is important that security teams have the tools and security policies in place to minimize the impact these vulnerabilities can have while these patches and updates are made. Think back to the WannaCry ransomware attack that compromised critical data at organizations around the world. This ransomware was disseminated through a known vulnerability that had a patch available. Had these organizations had a better understanding of their high-risk assets and where they were vulnerable, they may have had this patch in place, or security controls to manage this risk while the patch was disseminated.
In addition to the location of security gaps in high-priority assets, security teams must also identify compliance gaps. As cyberattacks become more sophisticated and frequent, various regulatory bodies have issued guidelines and standards that organizations must comply with to minimize the likelihood and impact of a data breach. When developing a security strategy and considering which tools to implement, compliance must be top of mind. This is especially true as organizations increasingly adopt multi-cloud environments – each of which have separate controls and policies in place for data security. This means that security teams need to understand where additional controls must be added to augment those included to ensure compliance.
Building a Strategic, Flexible Security Plan
Once IT teams have identified their business-critical assets, where vulnerabilities exist, and where they must incorporate compliance controls, they can build a strategic security infrastructure.
The level of sophistication that exists in today’s cyber attacks, coupled with their frequency, make security events inevitable. This is especially true as traditional perimeters dissolve and networks become more distributed.
Security teams must develop custom strategies that secure their high-priority assets with a degree of flexibility to adapt as the network evolves.
Using Managed Security Services to Prevent Risks
To address attacks from occurring in the immediate or near-term, consider using managed security services. Managed security services combine expert-level threat intelligence and protection to evaluate which assets are a priority, where vulnerabilities exist, and assist in remediation efforts to remove the burden of vulnerable assets off of your IT team’s to do list.
Managed security services help your team define the parameters of their security strategy, assist in identifying attacks on your environment from the first red flag, and minimize their overall impact. As your landscape expands, these services allow your organization to easily prioritize and protect assets in a cloud-first world.
The Bottom Line
Staying a step ahead of cybercriminals is a crucial component of preventing an attack. This is done by understanding the most likely targets, and taking steps to reinforce their security. Taking a deeper look into your landscape to determine which assets are most vulnerable, and those whose loss will have the greatest impact, provides a list of immediate actions for IT teams and managed services providers to work to remediate.
Find out more about how SoftwareONE’s Security Services can protect and prevent attacks on your organization.