Hindsight, as we know, offers perfect clarity. Most organizations weren't expecting a global pandemic to speed up digital transformation or create an anywhere workforce. Not only are security teams being forced to combat increasingly sophisticated attacks and match the speed of innovation with the right security, they're doing so in a remote-work environment. In parallel with this, organizations are accelerating cloud adoption, which expands the threat surface for cybercrime cartels and nation-state actors who have used the pandemic as a chance to industrialize their operations.
Whether it's island-hopping as we saw with SolarWinds, new attack techniques, or the 118% increase in destructive attacks, it is evident that cyberspace has become more hostile. As the saying goes, it's no longer a matter of if an organization will get attacked, but when.
As CISOs arm their teams with the resources needed to defend against attackers, two things should remain top of mind. First, the assumption that cybercriminals will not only target their organization but that they will attempt to hijack their infrastructure. And second, that attackers will fight back via counter-incident response.
But there are some best practices CISOs can employ to remain vigilant against cybercrime cartels.
Increase Situational Awareness
It is critical that organizations begin to take a proactive and comprehensive approach to security, regardless of sector or size. Telemetry is thus fundamental to achieve situational awareness; one must integrate the network detection and response platform with the endpoint protection platform. Additionally, consider setting up a secondary line of communications within an organization. This is a vital step to take as CISOs should assume that all internal communications can be intercepted, viewed, modified, and compromised by the attackers.
Secure Workloads & Kubernetes Environments
Migration to the cloud shows no sign of slowing down, which must result in security that extends across workloads, containers, and Kubernetes environments. Protection across cloud workloads should be the top priority for organizations utilizing public and private clouds to take cloud security to the next level and protect against attacks such as cloud jacking. It's critical that CISOs integrate their network detection and response with their endpoint protection platforms, while also deploying workload security to ensure all assets, no matter where they live, are protected.
Track Identities on the Move
Today's attacks don't have a distinct beginning or end. Instead, adversaries use the opportunity to learn as much as they can about organizations. If an organization suffers a ransomware attack today, it's safe to assume the attacker has a second command-and-control post inside the infrastructure. Monitoring the situation is key in order for organizations to understand all avenues of re-entry and fully grasp the scope of the intrusion. This allows CISOs to effectively develop a means of actually removing the adversary from the environment. Security teams need the ability to accurately track identities as they move throughout networks to ensure adequate protection. This requires just-in-time administration and two-factor authentication.
Activate Your Threat Hunting Program
Prepare for the worst, hope for the best. Security teams should assume attackers have multiple avenues into their organization. Threat hunting on all devices can help security teams detect behavioral anomalies as adversaries can maintain clandestine persistence in an organization's system. Organizations have already begun to realize the value of proactive practices, with more than 81% reporting they have a threat hunting program in place. For those that don't, this is a critical missing piece of the puzzle. Threat hunting should be conducted on a weekly basis.
COVID-19 has served as a launchpad for sophisticated and frequent cyberattacks. However, there's a silver lining: Security is finally becoming a top priority for organizations, with the C-suite now allocating more budget to strengthen security postures. With accelerated digital transformation and the shift to the cloud, we can expect to see a surge in attacks. This helps organizations stay one step ahead of attackers. We must put the power back in the hands of defenders and give security teams the means to remain vigilant in the chaos of cyberspace.Tom Kellermann is the Head of Cybersecurity Strategy for VMware Inc. Previously Tom held the position of Chief Cybersecurity Officer for Carbon Black Inc. In 2020, he was appointed to the Cyber Investigations Advisory Board for the United States Secret Service and ... View Full Bio