The Importance of Cybersecurity

The Importance of Cybersecurity

Security is a complex and dynamic landscape that we all must navigate. Most of us do not fully realize the role that security plays in our daily lives. From signing into your email account to swiping your credit card, our most precious data is available at the tip of our fingers. Unfortunately, it can be available to other fingertips as well.

Security is multi-faceted, which means it requires many different approaches when developing a plan to secure your valuable technology resources. Such areas may include, but are certainly not limited to:

Physical Security

Physical security addresses the tangible aspects of our environment. 

Examples include such things as securing your data center behind locked doors, securing server racks to prevent unauthorized access, and even using camera systems to monitor critical areas not only to deter but to capture malicious activity. Physical security is paramount, as access at this level can often override other protections employed on devices. One often overseen security practice is keeping an accurate and updated inventory of all assets. We cannot begin to protect assets and resources that we do not know about. This allows us to get an organizational view of our environment and identify those pieces most critical to conducting business. From here we can audit existing or implement new controls to best protect these assets. 

Endpoint protection

Endpoint protection addresses the most common interface to our environment, the endpoint. Generally speaking, the endpoint refers to the end-user devices used as part of daily operations. These can include workstations, laptops, tablets and mobile devices. Next-generation endpoint solutions utilize traditional anti-virus technology along with additional capabilities such as advanced malware protection, machine learning, and EDR(Endpoint Detection & Response) to better mitigate emerging threats that have not been seen in the wild. 

Infrastructure

While infrastructure is a broad term, in this context we are talking about the OS and application layer. Similar to the endpoint, a good protection suite is vital to protect against both known and unknown threats. Following a well-established system hardening guide is also important to reduce the attack surface of a particular OS and/or application. Some basic practices to follow include keeping OS and applications patched, disabling services not needed for operation, enabling endpoint firewalls when possible, and employing least privilege principles. 

Network

The network facilitates communication between all critical IT resources. While the network and its resources can be the target of malicious activity, oftentimes it is simply the vehicle used to conduct malicious activity. With this in mind, we must do our best to ensure secure configurations are in place to best protect the data that transits the network. While perimeter defenses may consist of many different technologies, the perimeter firewall is usually our first line of defense against outside threats. Ensure that only services critical to the operation are exposed to the outside world. Not doing so not only allows potential attackers to gather additional information about your environment but also allows unintended access to insecure services. Many next-generation firewall platforms also provide additional features such as IDS/IPS, DDoS mitigation, and application-layer filtering to name a few. 

User Awareness

Unfortunately, end-users are the most vulnerable part of any security initiative. Training end-users to detect and report suspicious activity is the first and most important step in dealing with potential incidents. Ensure that you have a well-documented process in place for recognizing and reporting suspicious activity. A quick response is critical to the containment and mitigation of such an incident. Often times, incidents will go unreported for fear of embarrassment or reprimand, so it is crucial that users are encouraged to and feel safe reporting such incidents. 

There are many solutions, both free and paid, that allow organizations to safely perform campaigns against its users to get a better understanding of their current risk. Utilizing these types of services helps to increase user-awareness and better prepare users for possible real-world attacks. 

Cloud

While the idea of the cloud has been around for quite a while, it’s becoming easier to deploy and manage workloads on any number of cloud service providers. Along with this simplicity comes the increased chance of oversights that could lead to insecure configurations, exposing sensitive data that is critical to your organization. Gaining an in-depth understanding of the cloud provider of choice is critical to securing the cloud infrastructure. Methodologies change from vendor to vendor, and understanding those nuances could mean the difference between deploying a secure environment and exposing your organization to potential attack. 

As you can see, there are many topics to consider when addressing the security posture of an organization. The items outlined in this article only begin to scratch the surface. There is no silver bullet solution that can address all or even most of these areas, so it’s often best to take a look at your own environment, identify areas of concern, and reach out to a trusted partner who can help you navigate these often complex systems

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