Understanding evolving cybersecurity needs

1 March 2020 Cyber Security

In the digitally-connected world with numerous data entry points into the organisation, cybersecurity requires a multi-layered approach. Attack vectors are growing in sophistication resulting in the need for cybersecurity to become integrated into all aspects of the business.

Typically, there are three prominent points of vulnerability. Firstly, network and perimeter security. This safeguards company networks from being accessed or attacked by malicious users. However, it must also protect staff from accessing websites that contain malicious content or content that falls outside the corporate security policy.

Secondly, email security. It is estimated that more than 90% of breaches have their roots in an email. So, not only is it important to ensure emails do not contain attachments or links that can cause damage, but it is also critical to continuously train and educate employees around cybersecurity awareness and good practice.

Finally, there is the need for comprehensive endpoint security solutions. Cybersecurity is only as strong as the weakest entry point into the corporate network. To this end, cybersecurity solutions providers must work with clients to ensure that all their end points are adequately protected.

Beyond ransomware

Ransomware and malware have continued in their prominence especially as data has become critical for business success. However, attacks are growing in sophistication to reflect topical information that trick people into clicking on links or opening attachments they would not ordinarily do.

For example, the current Coronavirus pandemic sees people wanting to get as much information as possible. Often, this means clicking on links without following proper security protocol that can result in opening the network of the company to potential attacks or damage.

Of course, human error will remain one of the biggest challenges when it comes to cybersecurity. Irrespective of how secure the network is, if an employee falls prey to social engineering then all comes to nothing. It is therefore critical that companies must have constant awareness campaigns and training in place to educate people about cybersecurity and potential attack tactics. Furthermore, the business must continually assess employee preparedness when it comes to cyber-attacks.

The growth of connected devices through the Internet of Things have opened a significant attack vector that is being exploited. Many of these devices do not come with any form of security or companies leave the security passwords to the factory-installed options. Companies must examine how to effectively isolate these devices from the network without compromising on the value they deliver.

Best practice

Despite the availability of sophisticated cybersecurity solutions, best practice still revolves around doing the basics right. For example, password management must be a priority. Companies must ensure that employees regularly update their passwords and ensure they are strong. This means not the typical using your mother’s maiden name or childhood pet as a password strategy.

Secondly, patching hardware and software must be an ongoing exercise. Vendors are continually updating their solutions to address new security concerns. It is therefore critical for a business to ensure that all aspects of the network are being kept updated to ensure the best-possible protection.

Two of the most common risks when it comes to intrusion and malware are the financial impact and reputational risk. Once a malicious user gains access to the network, it becomes easy to launch ransomware or other malware that can lock down the data of the business. In the case of ransomware, this can translate to huge sums of money being requested to release the data back to the company. And when it comes to the reputational damage, the loss of customer confidence and trust in the company can easily see them migrate to a competitor.

Fortunately, most decision-makers have realised that a breach can happen at any time. The challenge is to mitigate against the damage such a breach can cause. There are many ways to prepare and plan for a breach, but it comes down to having an adequate business continuity and disaster recovery strategy in place. Making frequent backups of data and testing systems for potential scenarios are fundamental. Moreover, companies should consider hiring experts in penetration testing to identify the weak points and train employees how to deal with breaches when they occur.

Ryan McGee

Defensive measures

Typically, there are three scenarios when it comes to a breach. Firstly, it is to gain access to the network and hold data for ransom. Secondly, it is about stealing intellectual property and selling it to the highest bidder. And thirdly, it is about causing as much damage to the corporate network and data as possible.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to breach management. Ultimately, it is about using effective cybersecurity measures that can detect breaches and alert the appropriate teams. It is frightening to think how long some breaches are undetected leaving the network completely open to the whims of the attacker.

Part of this revolves around understanding where and how the breach occurred. It also requires a specialist with an understanding of the corporate network to determine how it likely spread through the system. No network is completely safe, so even if a breach has not occurred, it is only a matter of time. The business must therefore continually test and monitor the network and its access points for likely attacks.

The increasing availability of artificial intelligence-based solutions mean companies can now pro-actively monitor their networks for potential attacks. By using sophisticated algorithms, these innovations can detect potential weak points in the network and automatically manage and maintain them. On the more traditional side, companies must conduct frequent cybersecurity audits to ensure that their network environment complies with best practice as well as regulatory requirements.

Looking ahead

Cybersecurity is a continually evolving landscape that requires ongoing assessment of the preparedness of the corporate network to deal with an attack. This is where partnering with a reputable cybersecurity provider is critical as it enables companies to remain focused on their core business while letting the experts manage the safeguarding of their network and data.

It must be part of an integrated strategy that delivers value from how pervasive technology has become in the organisation. The silo approach of the past is no longer good enough. The business must have complete oversight of its network and data as well as the processes in place to protect it.

For more information contact Vox Telecom, +27 87 805 0000, info@voxtelecom.co.za, www.voxtelecom.co.za


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