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Back To Basics: Maximizing Cybersecurity Capabilities

A number of prevention techniques that have existed for years remain fundamental components of any modern security program.

Stephen Scharf

November 15, 2016

3 Min Read

From worms and viruses to massive distributed denial-of-service attacks, the sophistication, scale, and impact of cybercrime has evolved significantly in recent years. For that reason, cybersecurity has made its way to the top of boardrooms' risk management agendas as CEOs and senior management teams assess how to best respond to and mitigate cyberthreats. Following the 9/11 attacks in 2001, firms around the world turned their attention to enhancing physical security as part of a commitment to mitigating risk. At the time, many organizations established vast data centers to protect against the loss of company data and to ensure the continuity of business operations in the event of an incident at one of their physical locations. 

Fast forward to the present day, and innovative information technology solutions are once again contributing to robust risk management programs, specifically around the ability to prevent and combat cyberthreats. These solutions have been complemented by the growing practice of sharing cyberthreat intelligence across organizations globally, which has further enhanced the ability for rapid response in the case of a successful network infiltration by malicious actors.

But while new defense technologies to obstruct cyberthreats are innovative and often helpful, there are a number of prevention techniques that have existed for many years that remain fundamental components of any modern security program.

First, the tracking and understanding of a firm's internal IT traffic remains critical in minimizing cyberrisk and responding to cyberthreats in a timely manner. In fact, many firms are beginning to move away from focusing solely on protecting their perimeter, having realized that even the most sophisticated solution can't stop all malware from entering an environment. As such, firms are turning their attention to analysis-led cybersecurity strategies focused on internal data movement. This internal analysis is highly effective in revealing abnormalities that point to cyberthreats and provide useful cyberthreat intelligence.

Second, the widespread use of cyberthreat intelligence across firms and critical industries can improve cyber defenses by enabling collective action, a strong complement to individual in-house security measures. Cybercriminals are known to share their attack techniques and learn from each other. The same should be true of targets. Automated sharing of cyberthreat information can help organizations across the globe to identify and respond to a network infiltration because malicious actors often use the same method to attack more than one target.

Third, firms need to realize that guarding against cybercrime is a company-wide responsibility. A large number of serious system breaches arise from something that may seem harmless, such as opening an email attachment or a link sent by an unknown sender. While the internal analysis-led approach can be helpful in this area, robust enterprise-wide cybersecurity plans ensure maximum protection against cyber attacks, irrespective of the individual knowledge base of employees.

Ultimately, firms should remember that despite the rise of new latest cybersecurity innovation, they need to get the basics right first. Those critical tools established some 20 years ago remain the foundation of any successful cybersecurity program. Opting for new technology solutions alone and underinvesting in core competencies and the basics, such as segregation of internal systems and monitoring internal data movements, may prove counterproductive at a time of growing cyberthreats. 

Related Content:

Dark Reading's all-day virtual event Nov. 15 offers an in-depth look at myths surrounding data defense and how to put business on a more effective security path. 

About the Author(s)

Stephen Scharf

The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation

Stephen Scharf is chief security officer at The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC<http://www.dtcc.com/#_blank>). In this role he is responsible for centralizing and aligning the firm's global information security, physical security, employee safety, and crisis/incident management functions, ensuring a comprehensive and holistic approach to risk management and resilience across the organization.

Scharf comes from Experian where he served as global chief information security officer, accountable for the overall strategy, leadership and governance of Experian's global information security, physical security and business continuity programs. Prior to that Scharf was global chief security officer for Bloomberg, LP. and managing security architect for security consulting firm @stake.

Scharf has over twenty years of experience in information technology with a 15 year concentration in information security. He has achieved the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), and previously held certifications as Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), Checkpoint Certified Systems Engineer (CCSE), and Cisco Certified Network Administrator (CCNA). He is a regular speaker at security events, including talks at the United Nations. Scharf has also authored multiple articles on security topics, including forensics, security administration, business continuity planning, and outsourcing. In 2012 Scharf was honored as CSO of the Year by SC Magazine.

Scharf received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ithaca College with a major in History and a minor in English.

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