A common misconception about cybersecurity is the belief that it is only managed by a company’s IT department. Truthfully, cyber attacks have become an enterprise-wide concern.
In the past decade, as cyber-attacks have increased both in frequency and sophistication, enterprises are finding themselves the most popular victims. This may be because Enterprise entities have been a major target for hackers because of their high value. With this, companies must protect themselves before an attack happens.
In this blog post, we take a look at how to protect your company’s cybersecurity by implementing proactive monitoring strategies that can mitigate risk from breaches.
What is Reactive Cybersecurity?
Reactive security is a common way companies think of cybersecurity. In a reactive cybersecurity model, when a cyberattack happens, your security team responds to that threat. The attacker is repelled, the cybersecurity team assesses the damages, and a clean-up operation begins.
As a result, this model relies on being able to shore up your defenses, respond quickly, and make it difficult for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, this means that it puts your IT teams in firefighting mode.
These are some examples of reactive cybersecurity:
- Spam filters
- Next-generation firewalls
- Multi-factor authentication
While there’s nothing wrong with reactive cybersecurity, it’s never enough. Just turn off your defenses for a minute and see where it takes you. For expanding attack vectors, new attack strategies, zero-day vulnerabilities, reverse engineering, and exploits, relying on a reactive security network will expose your company.
To truly protect your operations, your company needs to be less reactive and more proactive.
What is Proactive Cyber Security?
Instead of simply absorbing the blow, companies stay in front of malicious actors and outrun them when using proactive models.
A proactive cyber security solution helps companies set the right policies, technologies, and philosophies to mitigate cyber threats and monitor the company network traffic to spot anomalies and defend against hacking attempts.
These are some examples of proactive cybersecurity:
- Penetration testing
- Security monitoring
- Vulnerability scanning
- Disk encryption/protection
- Security awareness training
- Cybersecurity risk assessment
This involves identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities before they come knocking at your door, but that is not all. A proactive approach toward cyber risk involves embedding security into every part of your technology stack and your processes. If every application you use in your company implements security measures, you can prevent vulnerabilities.
Another part of proactive security involves securing the tools and the development process of said tools in a process known as the “shift-left” approach. This process increases the chances of vulnerabilities and attack vectors being found and remediated before the website or app even sees visitors.
Signs You’re Stuck on a Reactive Cybersecurity Model
Sometimes, companies don’t know they’re following reactive practices. These are some tell-tale signs that your company is still stuck on a reactive model.
- You’re always doing malware clean-up
- Cybercriminals look like they are one step ahead of you
- Your employees aren’t trained in cybersecurity
- You struggle to remain compliant
If any of these signs look at least a bit familiar, chances are you’re still following a reactive cybersecurity model.
The Dangers of Reactive Cybersecurity
No company wants to experience a cybersecurity incident, especially if those incidents could have been prevented by following a proactive approach to cybersecurity.
Here are some of the dangers of following a reactive cybersecurity strategy:
- Loss of Customer Data: In 2013, Yahoo suffered one of the major data breaches in history, when a group of hackers got access to information of 3 billion user accounts across the world. Enterprise businesses need to go beyond reactive security to ensure that they can catch these threats at their inception to prevent potential legal liabilities and potential compliance issues.
- Reputation Damage:After Capital One suffered a data breach involving 100 million customers in the US and Canada, the company’s stock price suffered a hit, sliding by 6%. For enterprise companies, a data breach could mean losing the trust of investors and clients, but it also transforms the way people think about the company and its position in the market.
- Negative customer experience:Improper access management systems and bad identity management practices can spell doom for enterprises. As the importance of secure customer journeys increases, the ability to deliver a secure customer experience becomes more important. Reactive strategies can’t protect customers across their lifecycle, exposing them to cyber attacks.
- Non-obvious attack surfaces:The public is used to seeing only certain kinds of cyber threats, but an enterprise company following a reactive cybersecurity strategy has many non-obvious attack vectors that unscrupulous actors can exploit without ever being seen. A reactive model leaves many blind spots and fails to defend companies against all kinds of attacks.
- Lingering threats:Just because “something has never happened” doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Many cyber threats are pervasive and stay in your system even after you think you cleaned everything up. A reactive strategy that lacks monitoring won’t alert you if something is still in your system until it’s too late.
Proactive vs. Reactive Cyber Security
|Reactive Cyber Security||Proactive Cyber Security|
|Objectives||Mitigate and contain threats||Prevent threats at their inception|
|Tools||Firewalls, antivirus, and filters||Security monitoring, penetration testing, cloud security training|
|Response time||Short to moderate — information security experts see threats once they happen||Immediate to short — IT can prevent cybersecurity incidents before they happen|
|Reporting tools||Only forensics after a breach has been found||Granular reports about traffic and activity|
|Monitoring and alerts||User activated monitoring only||24/7 alerts and monitoring|
|Automated testing||Manual testing only||Allows for automated software testing tools|
|Patch management||Manual patch management||Automated patching for better security coverage|
How Can Proactive Enterprise Cyber Security Protect Companies?
2021 marked the year with the highest average data breach cost in 17 years, according to IBM. Data breach costs rose from USD 3.86 million to USD 4.24 million. As services and companies move to the cloud, the cost of data breaches will do nothing but increase. The days of reactive strategies are over and enterprises need to be prepared to nip the threats in the bud.
Here are some ways proactive enterprise cybersecurity can give them the peace of mind they need.
Proactive Scanning + Alerts
A usual feature of enterprise cybersecurity tools, proactive security scanning defends the company against cyber threats and attacks by monitoring and assessing your infrastructure for vulnerabilities.
Proactive scanning can help you prevent weaknesses in the system by tracking assets and workloads to identify blind spots in your security.
Regular Penetration Testing
Penetration testing, also called pen testing, is a proactive cybersecurity technique that IT teams use to test and highlight vulnerabilities in the system.
Pen testing involves consistent testing to improve upon not yet found vulnerabilities, giving enterprises the foresight to make changes in their security posture before a cybercriminal decides to carry out an attack.
Leveraging automated testing tools is another proactive measure companies can take to prevent issues at an early stage. Automated testing removes human error from the equation and delivers consistent, unbiased results faster.
Coding Best Practices
Following coding best practices is fundamental to a solid enterprise cyber security as many of the vulnerabilities and attack vectors hackers find stem from improper coding practices. By making sure that your software development team follows proper procedures, you mitigate many of the possible errors and bugs that happen in production.
CI/CD for Faster Patches and Fixes
CI/CD are two of the most important parts of proactive cybersecurity. CI/CD pipelines are capable of efficiently improving the software delivery workflow through a fully automated process, which reduces the need for human input and in turn reduces the possibility of human error.
Being Proactive About Security Patches and Upgrades
Proactive, automated patching can help enterprises protect their software and tech stacks against malicious actors. By automating the patching process, developers can free their minds and work knowing that the software they’re using is always patched and compliant.
Access To Experts
Cybersecurity experts are another part of the equation. Enterprise companies can ask for the help of DevOps and cybersecurity experts to audit and manage the company’s cybersecurity, providing the business with another layer of security and expertise that will result in fewer data breaches and cyber threats.
Read More: DevOps Automation: How it Works
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