The frequency and sophistication of worldwide cyberattacks continue to surge, with businesses falling victim to a ransomware attacks every 13.275 seconds, according to Cyber Defense Magazine. No agency, company, or organization is immune to the devastation a cyberattack can bring, and although companies are making progress in improving their efforts, they still face a growing number of challenges.
Challenge 1: Adversaries Are More Focused and Sophisticated
Using advanced techniques, attackers are increasingly seeking to lock critical systems and destroy data. According to Wombat Security's "State of the Phish" report, 76% of businesses reported being a victim of a phishing attack in the last year, with the average cost to handle a phishing attack coming in at $1.6 million. To combat these threats, companies must first break free from "snapshot thinking." This is the thought process that once a security strategy and solution are in place, all is well with one's IT environment. To manage and stay ahead of evolving threats, risk assessments, information assurance road maps, system patching, and other security measures must be continuous and informed by threat intelligence.
Challenge 2: Investing in Cyber Tools Doesn't Equal More Security
Cybersecurity expenditures are expected to reach $1 trillion by 2024. Even though companies continue to invest in cyber tools, spending alone does not ensure security for an organization. To get the most value from their investment, organizations should ensure they are fully optimizing the capabilities of tools they already have before buying new ones. They may find that available updates enable new capabilities that were not originally present. But if spending alone doesn't ensure security, what does? The most important ingredient is a culture of good security processes across the organization predicated on buy-in and accountability at the executive level.
Challenge 3: Ever-Growing Networks Lead to Blind Spots
A growing number of interconnected networks, cloud connections, and third-party connections leads to new blind spots and decreased visibility into a network's IT and operational ecosystem. Research found that a lack of visibility can lead to 20% to 40% of network and endpoint infrastructure becoming unknown or unmanaged by an organization. Organizations must take steps to safeguard enterprise software and their connected devices and also ensure continuous monitoring capabilities. The objective must be to know where your critical data and systems are in order to make it as difficult as possible for adversaries to achieve their goals while maximizing your chances to identify their presence, minimize their impact, and restore operations to normal.
Allocate Resources to Key Areas of Focus
How does an organization stand a chance in keeping up with ever-changing vulnerabilities? By knowing where to focus. And we know where to focus by treating vulnerabilities like a business risk.
The CISO is responsible for identifying the risks and driving the plan, but those responsible for the planned actions exist across the business — in IT, communications, marketing, human resources, finance, procurement, and more. If this doesn't happen, then your cyber-risks are not being managed as a business risk and your probability of success declines.
Using a Risk Approach Addresses These Challenges
Forward-looking, security-conscious organizations are shifting to a risk mindset, focusing on mitigation options, continuous monitoring, diagnosis, and remediation to improve security practices. Two well-respected references that can guide organizations towards institutionalizing risk management are the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) and the NIST Risk Management Framework (RMF) for Information Systems and Organizations (800-37).
The NIST CSF serves as a program framework to help organizations manage their cyber-risk awareness, security, detection, response, and recovery. Central to the framework are five core functions:
- Identify: A risk-based strategy begins with the process of identifying and reviewing the complete range of risks an organization faces. By first assessing risks, you become actively aware of where uncertainty surrounding events or outcomes exists.
- Protect: Based on risk prioritization, steps are identified to reduce risk or remediate a situation to protect the organization, people and assets concerned.
- Detect: Being proactive in reducing risk requires making timely discoveries with continuous 27/7 monitoring and implementing auditing and alerting capabilities.
- Respond: It is important to create, analyze, and triage potential threats. Once a threat is detected, take action with your established, robust response plan.
- Recover: Restore functionality by instituting a recovery plan and create improvements to prevent future attacks.
The NIST RMF complements the CSF by providing a more detailed risk management process of execution. For example, the RMF specifically addresses sections from the CMF in its seven steps: prepare, categorize, select, implement, assess, authorize, and monitor.
Increasing cyber threats means you need a more continuous, end-to-end approach to protect your critical communication environment. Ultimately, this approach saves time and money by proactively confronting potentially hazardous situations before they become acute threats. A real-world breach scenario is not the time to discover your teams, tools, and strategies don't hold up as you thought they could.
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