Cyber threat anticipation

Issue 7 2023 Information Security, Risk Management & Resilience

Armand Kruger.

In a digitally connected world, the war against cyber threats has never been more critical – or ferocious. The ever-increasing number of sophisticated attacks on the horizon means organisations must evolve and adapt their cybersecurity strategies to protect their data, systems, and reputation. NEC XON is at the forefront of this fight, pioneering innovative approaches to enhance cyber defence and resilience.

Recent findings from the Microsoft Digital Defence Report have unveiled some alarming statistics. Human-operated ransomware attacks have surged by 200%, and it is not just large corporations in the crosshairs. Small and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 500 employees represent 70% of the organisations hit by these malicious attacks. Password-based attacks have also witnessed a significant spike, underscoring the need for organisations to adapt and prepare for the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape.

NEC XON’s cybersecurity strategy foundation lies in the core principles of threat detection, response, and anticipation. Its proactive approach to threat anticipation is the new frontier of defence, where it calibrates its readiness based on known vulnerabilities and observed attack techniques. This approach empowers it to reduce risk gradually while fostering business transformation and innovation.

A real-world example

Consider this scenario: Organisation A falls victim to a cyberattack due to a compromised credential to access its customer infrastructure via VPN without Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).

Threat anticipation is observing the attack tactics, going to all customers and partners and assisting them to enable MFA on VPN via a unified identity-centric strategy that is centrally controlled.

Threat detection is detecting an attempt to log into the VPN via a compromised credential, but it was mitigated by MFA and additional controls applied as part of the identity-centric architecture.

Threat response is disabling the compromised identity, changing its password and limiting its ability to log into any business application, protecting business assets and maintaining cyber resilience.

The role of cyber innovation

The ability to innovate cyber strategy is crucial in a landscape where cyber threats are prolific. NEC XON adopts an adversary-centric mentality, allowing it to view our customers’ organisations through the eyes of modern adversaries. By anticipating attack opportunities in the process of threat modelling and mapping them against current safeguards, the company can pre-emptively strengthen defences. Here is a cheat sheet with some key tactics to remember.

Key tactics for cyber resilience

• Map and reduce your perimeter: Identify and secure all potential entry points for adversaries, from VPNs to public-facing systems and login interfaces with no MFA.

• Architecturally redesign your infrastructure: Implement network segmentation to limit lateral movement within your network and gain control over adversary pathways.

• Adopt a unified and identity-centric approach: Strengthen identity and access management (IAM) solutions to ensure MFA across the entire network.

• Reinforce privileged access control: Prioritise securing privileged access to seal off unauthorised pathways and closely monitor authorised access.

• Prioritise basic cyber hygiene controls: Implement fundamental cyber hygiene practices, such as changing default credentials and reducing over-privileged users and groups.

• Build a robust incident response plan: Prepare for cyber incidents with a well-defined response plan that includes communication, coordination, and testing.

• Use a vigorous XDR solution: Implement extended detection and response (XDR) to correlate signals from various security products and execute rapid threat response actions.

• Maintain tested and isolated backups: Regularly back up critical data and applications, isolate them from the production environment, and test their restoration.

• Educate and guide the board of directors: Ensure the board understands the evolving cyber risks and aligns cybersecurity investment with a defence-centric strategy.

Cybersecurity is no longer just a matter of implementing security tools and services; it requires a holistic, proactive approach incorporating threat anticipation, innovative thinking, and a solid defence-centric strategy. NEC XON is at the forefront of this paradigm shift, leading the way in preparing for the cybersecurity challenges of tomorrow. In a world where cyber threats continue to evolve, its approach to threat anticipation is the first line of defence.


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