In today’s ever-evolving digital landscape, cyber threats continue to emerge at an alarming pace, putting organizations of all sizes and industries at risk. Malware alone grows by more than 450,000 new samples every day, but experts also keep uncovering new social engineering attacks and zero-day exploits.
To protect valuable digital assets, it’s no longer enough to address cyber threats in a reactive manner by fixing vulnerabilities once attackers have made them obvious. Instead, organizations must anticipate and address threats before they manifest by adopting a proactive security strategy.
6 Critical Cybersecurity Policies Every Organization Must Have
What Is a Proactive Security Strategy?
A proactive security strategy is a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity whose goal is to identify, anticipate, and mitigate threats before they become incidents.
For a long time, proactive security was practiced mainly by large enterprises and prominent government agencies due to their high-profile nature and the huge sensitivity of their data. Smaller organizations could afford to take a more leisurely approach to cybersecurity because attackers didn’t really care much about them at all.
However, times have changed, and cyber attacks are no longer limited to the most prominent targets. According to The State of IT Security for SMBs in 2022-2023 report, 60 percent of SMBs experienced a cyber attack in 2021, and 18 percent experienced six or more.
With the rise of automated cyber attacks powered by artificial intelligence, virtually every organization whose IT infrastructure is exposed to the internet can expect to be bombarded with increasingly sophisticated attacks, and reactive measures won’t be able to provide adequate protection. The best solution is to build a robust proactive security strategy designed to prevent both current and future cyber threats from causing data breaches and other incidents.
The Main Building Blocks of a Proactive Cybersecurity Strategy
A proactive security strategy can be broken down into individual building blocks that, when combined, provide a strong foundation for safeguarding an organization’s digital assets against cyber threats.
Understanding of the Evolving Threat Landscape
Staying informed about emerging threats, attack methods, and vulnerabilities is crucial for anticipating and preparing for potential attacks. Unfortunately, not all organizations employ or outsource the cybersecurity talent needed to keep up with the rapidly changing threat landscape. As a result, they are unable to adapt their security measures proactively, which leaves them with costlier and much less effective reactive measures.
Continuous Risk Assessment
Conducting regular risk assessments helps identify weaknesses in an organization’s infrastructure and processes. By evaluating the likelihood and impact of potential threats, organizations can prioritize resources and efforts to address vulnerabilities and minimize their exposure to cyber attacks. Risk assessment should be updated at least once a year or whenever significant changes occur in the organization’s infrastructure, technology, or business processes.
Monitoring and Anomaly Detection
Effective monitoring and anomaly detection play a vital role in identifying unusual patterns or suspicious activities within an organization’s network and systems. The ability to see early signs of a cyber attack allows organizations to respond to threats more quickly, which is critically important because it takes independent cybercriminals just around 9.5 hours to obtain illicit access to a target network unless they are detected and stopped.
Active Threat Hunting
Active threat hunting goes beyond passive monitoring by leveraging the expertise and intuition of skilled cybersecurity professionals. These threat hunters use real-world attack techniques (see the MITRE Adversary Tactics Techniques and Common Knowledge (ATT&CK) framework) to uncover vulnerabilities before cybercriminals do, making it possible for organizations to fix them in a proactive manner.
Timely Patch Management
Keeping software and systems up to date with the latest security patches is essential because unpatched vulnerabilities are involved in approximately 60 percent of data breaches. The goal here is to install patches as soon as they become available and do so for every device that is connected to the organization’s network, including servers, workstations, smartphones and tablets, wearables, and IoT gadgets.
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Incident Response Planning and Testing
A well-defined incident response plan establishes the roles, responsibilities, and procedures to follow in the event of a security breach or cyber attack. It ensures that an organization is prepared to act swiftly and efficiently to contain the incident, mitigate its impact, and recover operations as quickly as possible. To ensure their effectiveness, incident response plans need to be tested using tabletop exercises and simulated cyber attacks.
Cybersecurity Awareness Training
Regular cybersecurity awareness training can transform employees from the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain to a strong first line of defense. Employees should be educated about security best practices, company policies, and potential threats they may encounter in their daily work, especially social engineering attacks like phishing, spear-phishing, and business email compromise (BEC).
Conclusion: It’s Time to Embrace Proactive Security
It’s now more important than ever before for organizations of all sizes to adopt a proactive security strategy by implementing the main building blocks outlined above. Those who continue relying on reactive measures may find themselves struggling to keep up with increasingly numerous and dangerous threats. The good news is that the implementation of proactive security doesn’t have to be a complicated, costly, and time-consuming process.
A managed IT service provider like OSIbeyond can make it a worry-free experience that won’t distract from core business objective. Contact us today for more information about how we can help your organization build a proactive cybersecurity strategy tailored to your specific needs.