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Category Archives: Cyber Security

Cybersecurity Performance

Measuring Success: Cybersecurity Performance Metrics that Count

Some time ago, businesses could go by with just a little help from their antivirus software friends. But as cybercriminals became sleeker with innovative tactics, the old lines of defense just didn’t work anymore. 
Staying vigilant in the face of today’s possible hacks requires a more thorough strategy. Long gone are the days when you could set an antivirus software and forget about it for about two or three years. These days, you need to continuously evaluate how effective your security controls are, what are the weak access points, compliance guidelines, and other elements of a sound security strategy.
But how do you determine how effective the tools are? Especially if your company leader wants to know the effectiveness of your strategy. You need to bring them value, be it through ROI or other results that are harder to quantify.
In this article, we will single out metrics that help determine how good your cybersecurity performance is.

The Best Cybersecurity Performance Methodologies

The two best methodologies you can use to assess cybersecurity performance work the best when combined.

The first one entails just measuring everything. Collecting data from all points of your cybersecurity strategy means you are aiming to create a culture of measurement and make decisions based on facts. The fallback of this method is that you can get overwhelmed with all the data to the point where it doesn’t bring you value. The truth is that you don’t need heaps of data to make management decisions. 

The second method entails collecting data and then applying analytical techniques that describe the nature of the data. Here, you don’t really go for numbers. Rather you go for scales that have grades such as “nominal, ordinal, ratio”, etc.

The Best Cybersecurity Performance Metrics to Use

Now we’ll go over some metrics that can give you practical ideas on forming your cybersecurity performance plan.

The Proportion of Devices with Endpoint Protection

In a company’s cybersecurity program, endpoints like laptops, servers, and printers are among the most vulnerable components, in part because they are handled by another fragile component: people. Every device should be taken into account for endpoint protection as part of a cybersecurity program, and any unprotected endpoints should be noted. This performance metric for cybersecurity aims for a value as near to 100% as possible.

Cybersecurity Performance Metrics

Number of Systems with Vulnerabilities

A crucial cybersecurity indicator for assessing the risk your company faces is the number of exposed assets in your environment. Although managing updates and patches is a difficult task, it is crucial to do so to close security gaps, especially those related to access control. A vulnerability scan that covers all of your assets will show you what needs to be done to strengthen your company’s security posture. An effective vulnerability management program is not just a matter of courtesy.

Amount of Users with “Super-user” Access

The most effective methods for managing information security involve giving users complete discretion over how much access control they have to the company’s resources. Employees should only have access to the assets, systems, and data they need to do their jobs. By identifying the access levels of every network user, you can change them as necessary by preventing any illogical super users or administrators.

The Time It Takes to Deactivate Former Employee Credentials

You can determine whether the IT and HR departments are on the same page by tracking these cybersecurity KPIs. In a perfect world, access for users who have been fired by the company would be promptly revoked through responsive access control. Maintaining them in use poses a danger since it exposes private data and may compromise devices.

Average Time to Handle Breaches

How long does it take to update the software when vendors provide security updates? Delays in installing security patches expose the organization to a known vulnerability that could be used to launch a cyberattack. Fast patch installation is recommended, as is virtual patching while patches are unavailable. Applying patches as soon as possible—within days or even hours following the publication of the update—is the aim.

Average Rating of Security Vendors

Attacks on supply chains are becoming a bigger concern to businesses of all kinds. A cybersecurity program must include ongoing monitoring of vendors’ cybersecurity defenses as well as the regular third-party assurance of both new and existing vendors. All third parties engaged by your company should receive high-security ratings and low-risk ratings from this KPI.

Final Word

If you want to know if your cybersecurity strategy is doing the job, you should do more than just secure your access controls. A good strategy incorporates KPIs that are both quantifiable and quantifiable. By combining the lessons learned from the metrics above, you can do your company a big favor. Along with getting continuous monitoring, you will also get results that will firmly set you on the right path.

Data security

Data Security Challenges in Cloud Computing

Businesses of all sizes are migrating to the cloud to take advantage of the increased data availability, substantial cost savings, and data redundancy that cloud computing offers versus a traditional data center-based physical infrastructure.

By removing data stores from storage closets, opting for the cloud can help data be managed and safeguarded per best practices and legal requirements.

For businesses, choosing the best cloud service and putting in place their own security measures present many difficulties. Since there are now more cloud platforms available, it’s critical to make sure the service you select supports data integrity, privacy, and availability.

When moving to the cloud or changing your cloud storage plan, keep the following factors in mind.

Top Data Security Challenges in Cloud Computing

Business apps can these days grow to sky-high levels and handle complex use cases thanks to the boundless potential of cloud services. However, the level of threats that data on the cloud poses also rises.

We’ll then look at some of the greatest hurdles to protecting your cloud data.

Insecure Access Control Points

Cloud services are by their very nature available from any location and on any device. The widespread usage of components like API endpoints, which can be accessed from anywhere, poses a serious threat to the cloud’s security standing.

By making API endpoints vulnerable, a cybercriminal can access data and possibly change it, jeopardizing its integrity.

Here are two often-used ways to secure yourself:

  • Penetration testing which simulates an external assault on a set of API endpoints to breach security and gain access to the company’s confidential data.
  • Audits of general system security

Some challenges are connected. And to that point, insecure API leads to misconfigured cloud storage.

‍Misconfigured Cloud Storage

Misconfigured storage is a follow-up to an API (Application Programming Interface) cloud security issue. In most cases, security risks arise in cloud computing due to human error and audit done in haste. Cloud misconfiguration is actually a setting for servers (used for computational or storage purposes) that leaves them susceptible to hacks.

The most often seen forms of misconfiguration are:

  • Default server settings for cloud security, including typical access control and data accessibility;
  • Inadequate access control: When an individual with limited access accidentally gains access to confidential information;
  • Mismanaged data access – leaving sensitive data without security measures for accessing it.

Here are some tips on avoiding such a scenario:

  • When setting up a specific cloud server, double-check the settings for cloud security. Even though this seems like an obvious tip, people tend to gloss over it in favor of supposedly more pressing matters like putting goods in storage without thoroughly dealing with cybersecurity.
  • Check security settings using specialized tools. Third-party tools from trusted providers can be used to periodically monitor the condition of security settings and spot potential issues before they become serious.
Data Security

Data Loss

Since it is simple to lose track of how much data you are storing, constant monitoring is necessary to ensure data security.

Data loss may occur in some situations where users don’t have adequate controls. In the cloud, data loss does not always equate to data being forever lost. The user just might not have access to this sensitive information for a variety of reasons. Lack of data backups, automatic data loss controls, and even audits and risk assessments can all result in data loss in the cloud.

Data Breaches

A data breach poses a cause-and-effect risk to data security. If a data breach occurs, it signifies that the business failed to address some cloud security issues, which then had a causal effect.

An incident where information is accessed and retrieved without authority is called a data breach. Typically, this incident causes a data leak.

Although classified info can be made available to the public, it is typically sold illegally or kept hostage by cybercriminals.

The event itself is a stain on a company’s reputation, even though the severity of the effects depends on the particular company’s crisis management capabilities.

Final Word

Proper data security in the cloud has typically proven difficult and ineffective. However, there are ways to simplify your approach to cloud security, particularly if you select a reliable managed service provider.

Businesses will continue to move to cloud infrastructure as remote working becomes more common. Because of this, it is more important than ever for enterprises to have a solid, trustworthy, and comprehensive cloud security policy in place to host a safe and secure cloud infrastructure. Having a plan in place can help businesses in avoiding overspending or underspending on cloud security measures.

Cybersecurity Habits

7 Cybersecurity Habits You Need to Break ASAP

Rarely a day passes without news of a cyber attack at yet another company, institution, or government body.

Many businesses continue to implement poor network security procedures in the face of identified risks. Here are 7 negative habits that are all too prevalent in cybersecurity, or lack thereof.

7 Worst Cybersecurity Habits

Here are the worst cybersecurity practices you might have seen, or been guilty of yourself.

Poor Password Security Rules

Commonly used and short passwords are a weak spot for your network, cloud apps, and email services. Such passwords can be easily guessed by potential attackers. So think about using a password manager tool. Such a tool helps you create and remember your unique logins. Another thing that helps is MFA (multi-factor authentication).

Also, consider not giving users admin access. That is sometimes given to users during troubleshooting, and then forgotten. Such a practice leaves you in a very vulnerable spot.

Bypassing Corporate Controls

Cybersecurity specialists frequently work around company controls – they disable them, or change repetitive settings only to forget to revert the changes after finishing.

Sure, it’s possible to disable or remove security measures like antivirus software, network security protocols, or MFA, but that exposes your system and unencrypted documents to attacks. And you should educate the rest of your staff on the dangers of bypassing corporate controls, too. Denying access to certain websites is done not just for productivity reasons but also to implement healthy cybersecurity habits.

Using Outdated Technology

Many businesses continue to use Windows Server 2003, despite the fact that it has a number of unpatched security vulnerabilities.

Rigidity is a common problem in the IT sector—if something isn’t broken, why fix it? Despite the fact that something may be functional, it is weak in terms of security. Even if an older piece of technology has been patched, that doesn’t guarantee that it is safe or that another vulnerability won’t expose it in the near future.

Companies must stop with the outdated methods and implement cybersecurity habits that can handle modern problems.

Failing to Review the Environment as a Whole

Security experts frequently don’t look at the wider picture to assess whether an environment is getting less safe. They are too busy responding to pressing problems. For instance, a senior admin’s privileges may be elevated to super admin status for the day, but due to urgent issues not revoked afterwards.

A thorough system review should be conducted following a penetration test. After a penetration test, we shouldn’t sit idly; instead, we should use the test as a starting point. Networks are incredibly dynamic, and updating or adding software can quickly alter your security posture.

Cybersecurity Poor Password Security Rules

Using Company Equipment for Personal Use

A lot of us are quick to use company devices for personal use. One personal email may not seem like a lot, but the outcome could be huge and damning.

Educate and train your staff on the dangers of misusing company equipment. Online shopping and downloading non-company apps and software can have wide-reaching company consequences. Especially if it opens the door for potential cyberattackers.

Your staff shouldn’t keep their personal data on company devices, and vice versa – no company data should be on their personal devices. To help them with the latter, get them all company devices to use so they don’t have to use their own laptop to perform tasks.

Negligence Toward False Positives

Some cybersecurity experts are careless when it comes to false positives, which happen when a security system identifies a benign file as malicious and blocks it. Data corruption, service interruptions, or a total inability to function are all potential consequences of this.

The cybersecurity habits some security professionals have is to minimize the possibility of high false positives and choose security stack solutions that are configured to overly cautious levels, which leads to false positives.

Not Patching Straight Away

Companies regularly invest thousands of dollars on security systems only to have them thwarted by something as simple as delaying the installation of a security patch. Many businesses put themselves at danger by delaying the installation of crucial security upgrades for at least a week after they are released.

Patch management weak spots include pushing out updates too quickly and devices going offline. But the most notable risk is simply and bafflingly leaving a system open to cyberattackers by not patching straight away.

Final Word

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to good cybersecurity practices and innovations. But we can all universally agree on bad cybersecurity practices. Never stop re-evaluating your security assets and how big a risk they pose. Vigilance in keeping a certain cybersecurity level is the foundation for strong security best practices. 

Incident Reporting Process

How to Create a Cybersecurity Incident Reporting Process?

In this day and age, it’s a given that any organization serious about growth will have a robust cybersecurity strategy in place. That includes having a well-rounded incident reporting process drafted, tested, and approved.

Any incident, both big and small, should be reported for analytics and pulling lessons from it. After all, chances of at least a small breach happening are high these days, since no strategy is 100% full-proof. Data dumps, ransomware attacks, and cloud breaches could happen to you today. Cloud-based workloads are especially vulnerable due to the interconnected nature of IT environments.

Start creating your detailed incident reporting process today. We’ve listed tips that can help you both put together an incident reporting template and the steps coming before and after its fulfilling.

Importance of Incident Reporting Processes

As much as it is practicable or functional, the response to cybersecurity incidents should be based on well-documented incident response plans that are periodically reviewed, tested, and put into practice by the people who will be required to use them in the event of an actual incident.

When an emergency does take place, that is most definitely not the time to use outdated documentation and rely on incident reporting processes that have changed a lot or are simply outdated.

At its core, the incident response process entails:

  • Detailed Preparation
  • Detection
  • Analysis
  • Containment
  • Eradication
  • Recovery
  • Following-up actions

And as always, bear in mind that you should use professional vocabulary and write concisely.

Proper Preparation and Data Accumulation

The first step is to realize that an incident will probably occur at some point and that there is an inevitability to it.

There are four main steps at this initial stage of creating an incident reporting process:

  • Training: You need to have the right people for this job. And that means helping your staff get the education it needs. Ask if they’re willing to go through cybersecurity webinars and courses, and if they’re willing to read and stay informed on the newest developments in the cybersecurity world
  • Aggregation: In marketing, content is king. In cybersecurity, data is king. To properly assess what went down, you need to develop a way of aggregating data. That way, when even something minor goes down, you’ll have answers to the questions of “How?” and “When?”
  • Identification: You can’t report on an incident before you know it’s happening. Recognizing abnormal behavior is the most common way your staff will know something is afoot. This step is usually a combo of manual data processing and powerful AI systems that should be in place. Consider implementing automated tools that can spot strange patterns in IT environments.
  • Cross-validating: Many organizations are rightly moving a part of their IT needs to verified outsourced teams. These managed IT service providers can notify you of incidents and cross-validate information with your inhouse IT team. Such a team often plays a crucial role in stopping minor incidents from growing into full-blown problems.
Incident Reporting Process Cybersecurity

Familiarize Yourself With Industry Regulation

All organizations should follow the incident response process accustomed for their niche. Different industries have somewhat different incident reporting processes. For instance, you might need to adhere to the HIPAA incident reporting requirements if you work in the healthcare industry.

These business regulations cover who they apply to and have very strict legislation regarding incident reporting:

  • You must comply with HIPPA if you create, obtain, keep, or transmit protected health information digitally.
  • If you work for a federal agency or a contractor for the government, you must comply with FISMA and NIST.
  • If you receive, store, or transfer credit card data, you must adhere to PCI DSS.
  • If you work for an energy or utilities provider, join NERC/CIP.
  • If your organization is a public company, you must comply with SOX.

Put Together an Incident Report Template

The following are some essential details to include in your incident report:

  • Incident reported:  The person’s name who submitted the incident ticket
  • Acknowledgement date: It is crucial to record the correct date and time of the incident.
  • Services affected: It will be possible for the adequate team to take part in the troubleshooting process if it is known which services are affected.
  • Detailed account of the incident: Instead of writing too much detail, the description should be brief, pertinent, and include information about the actual event.
  • Impact on business: A serious incident may result in major breakdowns or outages that have an effect on companies.
  • Action taken: Following the resolution of the issue and the restoration of regular services, all phases and troubleshooting tools are recorded for future reference.

Final Word

We have learned how crucial it is to establish an incident response team with expertise in cybersecurity analysis and a well-documented cybersecurity incident report process.

A company also has to have solid rules to support these essential elements. The goal of incident response is not just to stop the occurrence; it’s also to learn from it and strengthen the flaws that were revealed. Since it is more a matter of when than if an incident may occur, it is important to constantly be prepared.

hybrid IT environment

Establishing Seamless Server Security for a Hybrid IT Environment

The hybrid IT environment heavily used today brought with it a more seamless and practical way of operating and growing our businesses. But even with all the pros there are some cons to the system, mainly security-wise. The thing is, the servers that protect vital information, intellectual property, and card transactions are often the primary aim of cybersecurity attacks.

Even though we know this, lots of organizations still have subpar server security. That is partly because of CEOs and other top management personnel. They easily get overwhelmed with the lingo and the seemingly endless task list for establishing seamless server security in a hybrid IT environment.

But not only is it worth it (both in terms of time and money) to secure your sensitive data and replace outdated security tools – it’s also required. That is because there are a lot of legal requirements and regulations to be met, and users have also significantly leveled up their expectations.

And to accomplish all of that, you need a modern hybrid IT environment that highlights productivity, as well as security. Let’s do a quick rundown of server security for such IT environments and give a few useful tips along the way.

What is a Hybrid IT Environment?

Working in a hybrid IT environment means working in a space with both on-premise and cloud-based IT infrastructure. That infrastructure, of course, maintains and manages the organization’s IT needs.

This model allows organizations to combine traditional on-site data center IT infrastructure with private and public cloud environments.

It can be a challenge to handle such a hybrid data center. After all, that data center now sprawls from legacy on-premise solutions to the aforementioned private and public clouds. Whether the in-house IT team handles the management and security of that sprawling system or a managed service provider (MSP) does that – depends on the enterprise in question.

But what we do certainly know is that hybrid IT is perfect for today’s digital business climate. The world is moving at a fast pace, so being innovative and flexible when it comes to cybersecurity is a given.

Server Security Challenges in 2022

A lot of companies are experiencing the shift of moving to a hybrid IT environment. At the same time that their servers are located in an on-premise environment, they are moving a vast part of their data and operations on new sorts of servers:

  • Cloud workloads
  • Containers
  • Microservices
  • Virtual machines
  • Storage devices, and so on,
hybrid IT environment server security

That puts them in a situation of having multiple cloud platforms. And, normally that usually leads to more people having access to servers. And there lies part of the problems. Instead of a few server admins in-house, you may have outsourced developers working for you, too. So, along with your trusty outsourced developers, you must have secure remote access to servers in the cloud.

You have to keep in mind that cloud server security is a different beast from legacy data center security. Distributed IT server environments are harder to handle and protect from attacks. Numerous applications mean numerous risk profiles. And different cloud servers mean different policies instead of a unified framework.

So you need to help your server administrators do their job better, because they’re humans, and mistakes happen when they need to safeguard a distributed server environment.

Employing Privileged Access Management (PAM) for Server Security

The most important thing to do when transforming to a hybrid IT environment is to secure privileged access accounts since they are often the core of the servers’ function. Because cybercriminals go exactly for those sorts of accounts as access points to your sensitive data. It’s thus no wonder that well-established companies with hybrid environments are employing Zero Trust policies, meaning, they severely limit privileged access across their enterprise.

If you are a large enterprise, a hacker getting access to privileged access accounts means compromised IP assets, stolen identities, shareholder value, millions in regulatory fines, ransom payments that push you into bankruptcy, etc.

Not only do you need to safeguard against high-profile ransomware crimes, but also the regulatory institutions are increasingly demanding businesses to better handle privileged access management (PAM). And at the same time, you get cyber-insurance organizations breathing down your neck, asking for (useful) things like:

  • Better access control
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Preconditions for granting policies, etc

A good way of establishing a PAM system is to instill the principle of least privilege. Certain users will get access, but only to the lowest level. That way, if your employee gets compromised, the cyber-attacker can’t do much with said employee’s account. Rather, if the employee needs broader access, they need to ask for it, and they will be granted greater access through proper control for a limited timespan, and they will be monitored afterward.

You can even design the PAM system to operate automatically – once the employee’s job on the server is done, the PAM system takes away their access privileges. It’s no wonder IT pros are raving about PAM systems and their security, scalability, and flexibility.

Final Word

In today’s world of hybrid work, remote access, and increasing phishing and hacking attacks, there are robust solutions to keep your valuable data safe. There is no risk-free way of scaling your business and running daily operations. But instilling a culture of wide-spanning server security through controlled access management is the first step to feeling more at peace with where your business is heading.

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