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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.

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.

Internal Security Breaches

Internal Security Breaches: How to Spot Them and Stop Them

No security breach can hit on a deeper level than an internal security breach. Imagine working excitedly and painstakingly on your business, assembling a team that shares a common goal, and building a network cyber protection system just to watch it take a substantial hit from the inside. No one could blame you – sometimes we get so hung up on stories of outside threats, that we forget to focus on potential risks lurking in-house.

How do these security breaches happen? Because of oversight, forgetfulness, lack of experience, jealousy, hurt? The answers can be few and many. But below we’ll cover the most often seen internal security breaches, so you can prepare for a risk that hopefully never comes knocking on the door of your business.

Types of Insider Threats

The phrase “insider threats” is pretty explanatory as it is. But there may be some factors that you fail to consider as possible insider threats. To raise awareness of insider security breaches, we’ll list the often found culprits of such risks:

  • Vindictive Employees: There are those workers who knowingly steal, leak, or damage internal information or IT systems for their gain, corporate espionage, vindictiveness, or sabotage. These people are often swayed by malice from individuals outside the organization or by emotions like rage or greed.
  • Negligent Employees: Careless staff members may unintentionally compromise business information or networks. These individuals are unaware their actions put the company at risk of a data breach or cybersecurity attack. Negligent employees may produce internal security breaches just because they inadvertently put sensitive information in the wrong hands.
  • Unsuspecting Employees: The seeming source of the inside attack could be a worker whose computer has been compromised or whose login credentials have been stolen. Cyberattacks are used by criminals to steal employee credentials, which they then use to commit crimes under the employee’s name. 

As you can see, we chose to classify the inside threats through the lens of the people who are part of the in-house structure or ones that closely partner with the business in question. Now, whether the threat comes from a file, an app, or other data – we’ll leave a brief classification for you below:

  • Unauthorized removal, copying, transferring, or other data exfiltration methods
  • Unauthorized uses of business assets
  • Data alteration, like unauthorized data changes
  • sensitive assets deletion or destruction
  • downloading data from questionable sources
  • leveraging illegal software that might have malware or other harmful code
  • installing malicious software on purpose

All in all, you and your staff must be educated on just how easy it is to open the door to internal security breaches. It’s even more important that you know how to spot this deliberate or unintentional behavior.

Internal Security Breaches data

Insider Threat Indicators and Impact

Now we’ll briefly list the most obvious indicators of a security breach that stems from the inside:

  • Downloading or accessing an increasing amount of data
  • Accessing sensitive data not relevant to the employee in question
  • Accessing data not usual to the employee’s unique behavioral profile
  • Repeated requests for access to data not significant to the employee’s role
  • Using unauthorized storage devices (USB drives, etc.)
  • A rise in phishing attacks

We’ll take a moment now to look at what kind of impact these attacks have on organizations.

  • Loss of revenue
  • Loss of competitive edge
  • Loss of customer trust
  • Increased legal trouble
  • Complete financial fallout

Usually, when a cyber-criminal has compromised an account, they can use that data to compromise a staff member, thus making an outside attack an insider attack.

Securing Yourself from Insider Threats

One glaring statistic from Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report is that 82% of the recorded breaches involved a human element. Maybe you will be somewhat comforted by the fact that your staff members are 2.5 times more likely to make a mistake than to intentionally abuse their access. But that still doesn’t change the fact that you need to know how to keep sensitive company data safe.

Besides identifying the pattern of suspicious activity as advised above, here are some other steps you can take to secure your business from internal security breaches:

  • Prevent Incidents – Lower risk through blocking, monitoring (both staff access and user behavior), and real-time user notifications.
  • Secure User Privacy – To acknowledge employee and contractor privacy and comply with regulations, and anonymize user data.
  • Fulfill Compliance – Quickly and efficiently meet important compliance requirements relating to hacker attacks.
  • Integrate Tools – For better understanding, combine insider threat management and detection with SIEMs and other security tools (File Access Management, Behavioral Analytics, Email security for outbound mail, securing your staff from sending data to the wrong recipient, etc.).

These are, of course, just the basics of protection. To create and implement a full-blown cyber security strategy, the help from an external Managed Service IT Provider could be of immense assistance.

Final Word

Implementing staff monitoring, auditing system logs, maintaining open lines of communication with important stakeholders, separating duties, and training your staff to avoid common mistakes that jeopardize their credentials are all ways to protect your company. And to make it simpler for you and your team to identify and stop insider attacks, you can benefit from investing in both new and existing technologies, as well as proven experts with a good IT security track record.

hackers use AI

How Hackers Use AI and Machine Learning to Target Enterprises

AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machine learning are often touted as things that will bring both small businesses and enterprises to new levels. But the bad frequently follows the good. Meaning that while AI and machine learning improve cybersecurity, they are also being used by cybercriminals.

Cybercriminals are using advanced technology to create and launch sophisticated malware and cyber attacks that easily bypass and fool cybersecurity systems.

More complex cyberattacks are our future, along with increased frequency. So in this article, we will cover in more detail what AI and machine learning do when in the wrong hands.

Importance of Cybersecurity in 2022

With the increasing number of cyberattacks, spotting vulnerable spots in your IT infrastructure is crucial to keep your business’ data, hardware, and other software safe.

In case your company does fall victim to a cyberattack (which isn’t the end of the world because you can never be 100% safe), there are steps to take afterward. After neutralizing the threat, the important thing is to revise the security protocols using the lessons learned from the recent attack.

Another vital step is to never stop learning – hackers use AI and machine learning more and more, and you should know about the latest hacker trends and what exactly they do to extract sensitive company data.

What are AI and Machine Learning in Cybersecurity?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is great in assisting security operations analysts to tackle the cyberattacks’ increase in scale and variety. Artificial intelligence (AI) tech such as machine learning and natural language processing enables analysts to link together various threats.

Machine learning, as a subset of AI, creates automated analytical models. What this translates to is that it lets IT systems gain more insight and thus update various processes according to what the program experienced through continuous use. That allows IT systems to learn from previous calculations and adapt on their own.

Ways Hackers Use AI and Machine Learning

Hackers use increasingly sophisticated methods to breach IT security, gather information, and launch attacks. The usefulness of machine learning and AI also benefits cybercriminals. The following evolving threats in the IT sector are ones that your company needs to be aware of.

More Sophisticated Phishing Emails

Attackers create phishing emails using machine learning. On dark web forums, they are promoting the sale of these services. There, they mention utilizing machine learning to produce more effective phishing emails. They operate by creating fake personalities for use in scam efforts.

Hackers can use machine learning to creatively alter phishing emails so that they don’t appear in bulk email lists and are optimized to encourage engagement and clicks. They go beyond the email’s text. Hackers use AI to produce realistic images, social media personas, and other content to give the interaction the best possible legitimacy.

hackers use AI Cyber threat

Faster Password Guessing

Additionally, criminals use AI and machine learning to improve their password guessing skills. It is evident that password guessing engines now have more sophisticated techniques based on the frequency and success rates of criminal hacking attempts. The ability to hack stolen hashes is also improving as criminals are creating better dictionaries.

Additionally, they are utilizing machine learning to identify security measures so they can guess better passwords with fewer attempts, increasing their likelihood of success.

Using Deep Fakes

The deep fake tools that can produce video or audio difficult to distinguish from the real human speech are the most terrifying way hackers use AI and machine learning.

A few high-profile cases involving faked audio costing businesses hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars have come to light recently.

In order to make their messages seem more credible, scammers are increasingly using artificial intelligence and machine learning to create realistic-looking user-profiles and videos. It’s a huge industry. Since 2016, company email scams have caused over $43 billion in losses, according to the FBI.

Social Engineering

Cybercriminals use the tactic of social engineering to trick and convince victims to disclose confidential details or perform a specific action, like sending money abroad or opening an infected file.

By making it simpler and faster for them to gather data on businesses, employees, and partners, AI and machine learning make use of the actions of criminals. In other words, social engineering-based attacks are strengthened by artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Final Word

There are so many different aspects of cybersecurity to cover, and we covered just a tiny portion in this article. But it is enough to get you started and realize just how much hackers use AI and machine learning.

So if criminals are using the best technology out there to perform malicious activities, you should be breathing down their necks, too, by continuously updating your security systems.

Because remember – AI and machine learning can keep you safe from various cyber threats.

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