A Proactive Approach To Vulnerability Management: 3 Steps

Having the tools to detect a breach is important, but what if you could prevent the attack from happening in the first place?

The stakes for securing an organization’s infrastructure are continuing to rise. Recent research from Juniper Research predicts the cost of data breaches will rise to a whopping $2.1 trillion globally by 2019, almost four times the estimated cost of breaches last year.

So what are businesses doing to protect their customers’ data? The scary truth is, many organizations are still leaving security up to fate; they’re prioritizing it only after an incident occurs.

A recent report on “Security Testing Practices and Priorities from Trustwave and Osterman research shows that businesses are failing to take even the most basic steps to protect their networks from cyberattacks. In fact, one in five businesses don’t do any security testing at all — despite the fact that 95% of respondents encountered at least one common issue associated with security vulnerabilities in the past year.

While financial and resource constraints are certainly factors, the main reason organizations aren’t conducting security testing is their lack of a proactive attitude towards security. Instead, businesses are reacting to attacks when sensitive data is already at risk. With a continuously evolving threat landscape, it is essential for companies to take a more activist approach to cybersecurity.

Here are four steps that security and business leaders can take to foster a more preemptive security approach – before it’s too late:

1. Security testing, first and foremost. I cannot stress how vital regular security testing is to the health of any organization. Testing is one of the first lines of defense against hackers, yet is too often overlooked. At the very least, organizations should be conducting in-depth network scanning and penetration testing on a monthly basis (when major vendors like Microsoft release their patches). Exhaustive automated and manual testing is also necessary when there are infrastructure changes and when new functionality is added to a technology because these changes can introduce new security holes. Testing can also help your business meet industry compliance standards.

2. People power. While testing tools are important, an organization’s defense against hackers ultimately relies on its people. The Trustwave and Osterman report found that insufficient staffing, skills, and time to perform security tests are the most common barriers when it comes to executing a proactive security strategy. Though it may require targeted recruitment and out-of-the-box hiring tactics, taking the time to find the perfect candidate for a security position will save your organization time and resources in the long run. Partnering your in-house team with an established managed security services provider is also an option.

3. A culture of security. This means getting everyone — from entry-level employees all the way to the C-suite, involved in shifting a security strategy from reactive to proactive. It starts by making sure all employees are educated on security best practices, from creating strong passwords to identifying common hack tactics like phishing. It’s also important for the C-suite to understand what security professionals do and how their work impacts the health and reputation of the organization. Forty percent of respondents to the “2016 Security Pressures Report” from Trustwave said they feel the most pressure either directly before or after their company’s board meeting. A security program needs support and investment from its C-level to be successful.

Having the tools to detect a breach is important, but what if you could prevent the issue from happening in the first place? Shifting your organization’s security stance from reactive to proactive is essential in creating a successful security strategy. Is your offensive line prepared to take on increasingly creative hackers?

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Kevin Overcash is the director of SpiderLabs North America at Trustwave. He has over 35 years of engineering experience and over 18 years of working for commercial network security vendors. Prior to joining Trustwave in December 2015, Kevin served as the VP of product at NCC … View Full Bio

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