Three must-know cybersecurity building blocks
The increasing sophistication of cybercriminals significantly influences the rise in cybercrime, the frequent lack of sufficient cybersecurity measures, and the high profitability of cybercrime. Cybercriminals constantly refine their skills, developing advanced malware and phishing techniques to bypass security protocols. This progress often outpaces many businesses' and individuals' ability to safeguard their digital assets -- as a lack of resources, underestimation of risk, or insufficient awareness often results in inadequate cybersecurity measures. Further fueling this upward trend is the lucrative nature of cybercrime, with offenders able to amass significant profits from stolen money or data, often with a low risk of apprehension due to the anonymity of the internet and digital currencies.
A recent BlackBerry Global Threat Intelligence Report observed up to 12 attacks per minute from December 2022 to February 2023, and the number of unique attacks using new malware samples skyrocketed by 50 percent -- from one per minute in the previous report to 1.5 per minute during this reporting period. The most common weapons were droppers, downloaders, remote access tools (RATs), and ransomware, with the most significant target being the healthcare industry.
Protecting a business from cyberattacks is a complex task for several reasons:
- Evolving Threat Landscape: The nature and types of cyber threats constantly evolve. Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated, creating new attacks and finding ways to circumvent security measures.
- Difficulty Detecting Attacks: Some cyberattacks can be incredibly difficult to detect until it's too late. For instance, Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) can infiltrate a system and remain dormant for extended periods, slowly extracting information.
- Supply Chain Vulnerabilities: Companies are not isolated entities but are connected to suppliers, vendors, and customers. If one of these external entities is compromised, it could lead to a breach in the company's systems.
Given these challenges, businesses must adopt a comprehensive, multi-layered cybersecurity approach involving preparation, protection, and deployment.
The first line of defense against a data breach is proper preparation. As a leader in cybersecurity, understanding your organization's mission, core assets, and cultural dynamics is essential. This knowledge enables the seamless integration of secure practices into daily operations, bolstering the defenses of your attack surface.
Deciphering your company's mission provides valuable insights into operational dynamics as a launching pad for developing cybersecurity strategies. This knowledge aids in the development and fine-tuning of the overall attack surface. Moreover, recognizing the pivotal business and IT functions contributes to formulating the most effective defensive strategies to safeguard data and establishes appropriate response plans in the worst-case scenario in the event of a breach.
In addition, examining your organizational culture is critical in your preparatory phase, as the data security battlefield extends beyond just the digital sphere. The human factor is a significant contributor to data breaches. Equipping your workforce with the skills and knowledge to combat cyber threats is vital as your systems are continuously monitored. Evaluating your business affiliates and third-party vendors is paramount to ensuring they uphold trustworthy practices and do not pose an additional security risk.
Initiating protection against data breaches can be as straightforward as setting up baselines, which elegantly integrate security measures without hampering the company's productivity. Once these baselines are in place, testing them to ensure they remain secure regularly is crucial. Continuous threat-hunting techniques can significantly contribute to your business's risk and vulnerability assessment, providing valuable data that help you preempt advanced attacks.
Web application security, a frequent source of data breaches, needs constant monitoring and updating. Software assurance should be a priority because software is a burgeoning target for cyber threats. A secure construction process involving standardizing and repeating software building using secure components, including third-party software dependencies, is fundamental to your defenses.
Equally important is using antivirus and data loss prevention tools to safeguard your data. However, technology can only go so far in preventing breaches -- human behavior also plays a critical role. Unfortunately, cleverly crafted phishing emails can mislead even the most conscientious individuals into unintentionally activating malware.
To mitigate this risk -- prioritize employee education on cybersecurity. Implementing real-world cybersecurity scenarios through phishing campaigns or physical security penetration tests can offer invaluable practical training. This hands-on approach is often the most effective strategy for preparing and safeguarding your team against data breaches.
When a data breach occurs, it is critical to have a robust and well-practiced action plan ready. An established and thoroughly tested incident response plan is crucial for effectively mitigating the damage caused by a data breach. Regular rehearsals of your response plan will help determine which parts can be automated, who and what resources need to be mobilized, and the timing of each action. These practice sessions will ensure a coordinated response when a breach occurs by familiarizing everyone with their roles and responsibilities. Given the stress and high stakes of data breach situations, preparedness leads to more precise and efficient decision-making. Additionally, routine testing allows for ongoing plan refinement, enabling it to stay up-to-date with the ever-evolving threat landscape against network attack surfaces.
Another essential aspect of cybersecurity response is data backup and recovery solutions, which, despite their simplicity, should be considered. Data should be securely and promptly backed up and stored for effective retrieval. A 'triage tree' should be implemented to evaluate the minimum level of device deactivation necessary in the worst-case scenarios, ensuring operational efficiency isn't unduly compromised while managing potential threats.
In conclusion, the rise in cybercrime is influenced by the growing sophistication of cybercriminals, the frequently inadequate cybersecurity measures, and the lucrative nature of cybercrime. Businesses must approach this challenge with a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy encompassing preparation, protection, and deployment procedures. Understanding an organization's mission, core assets, and culture allows for seamlessly integrating security practices. Regular security testing, threat hunting, software assurance, and employee education are critical for protection. Moreover, having a well-rehearsed incident response plan, secure data backup and recovery solutions, and a protocol for timely reporting of breaches ensures a robust defense against the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats. A proactive, multi-faceted strategy is paramount to safeguarding digital assets.
Zachary Folk currently serves as the Director of Solutions Engineering at Camelot Secure. As an experienced Cyber professional, he has worked in roles ranging from System Administration to Information System Security Management. This experience allows him to help companies integrate technical solutions for compliance and security standards. He holds several top-level Cybersecurity Certifications and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Additionally, he has served 14 years as an Officer in the Alabama National Guard.