It's always better to be proactive than reactive in any part of life. A proactive approach involves planning for the future and taking into account challenges that may creep up along the way. By being proactive, you foresee potential problems and think of solutions that will keep these problems away. You also prepare solutions that will mitigate the damage if the problem still occurs.
Being proactive is always better. But that doesn't mean you don't also need a reactive approach. What if a problem still occurs in spite of all the safeguards you have in place? You need to react effectively so that the extent of the damage caused by the problem is curtailed and you can quickly ward it off.
When building your organization's cyberdefenses, it's important to have both proactive and reactive tactics to fight threats. You should plan for all kinds of incidents before they even occur by:
Performing comprehensive risk analysis: A risk analysis will enable you to identify the degree of risk that each critical data asset is exposed to. Based on the level of risk, you can prioritize your assets and your different defense mechanisms.
Carrying out penetration testing: It's always better to hack yourself before someone malicious does it for you! Penetration testing helps you find the vulnerabilities attackers are looking for and plug them proactively. It's always good to keep your red team engaged.
Developing use cases based on popular adversary tactics: Analyst firms like Gartner and Forrester have highlighted the importance of a use-case-based approach to cyberdefense. You should identify the main attacks your organization could fall victim to and implement the right defense techniques for these use cases. You should develop both essential and complex use cases. You can build more effective use cases by using frameworks such as MITRE ATT&CK.
Using threat intelligence: Threat intelligence feeds will help you keep tabs on malicious URLs, domains, and IPs that attempt to get into your network. They can be blocked as soon as they are identified. Make sure that you subscribe to at least three different threat intelligence feeds as what one feed gives, another feed won't.
Using machine learning algorithms for anomaly detection: You can use anomaly detection to find abnormal activities being performed by users and on hosts in the network. Based on the deviation of the anomaly from the normal, a risk score will be assigned to the entity. If the risk score increases above a certain threshold, you know you need to take action.
Educating users: Users are the weakest link and your network is only as secure as its weakest link. Cybersecurity has to become a culture within your organization. Cybersecurity awareness training should be given to every employee at least once every six months.
Above, we discussed some of the proactive approaches to cybersecurity. In case an attack still occurs, the following reactive approaches can help mitigate the damage.
Configuring alerts and advanced event correlation rules: Alerts and correlation rules can help you recognize threats as they occur in the network. You need to write rules that look for malicious occurrences. Once something malicious is identified, you need to know about it right away via an SMS or email alert.
Automating incident responses with workflows: If an attack does take place, you don't want to be waiting until you get an email or SMS alert to take action. Ideally, you want your security analytics solution to take some response action automatically. To do this, you need to configure workflows that can take actions such as disabling a user, shutting down a server, or executing a script to change the firewall policies.
Performing forensic analysis to identify the root cause: You need the ability to go back in time and figure out exactly why an attack occurred. Was there any user who was involved and, if yes, who was it? What were the processes that were run and from where? At what times were malicious activities performed? You need to carry out a thorough investigation to find the answers to these pressing questions.
Developing policies for informing the affected parties and other stakeholders: You need policies and procedures in place to inform people when a mishap occurs. Some compliance regulations actually mandate this.
Learning from the experience so it doesn't happen again: No organization wants an attack to occur within its network. If it happens once, the organization should learn about it and take steps to ensure it doesn't happen again.
Both proactive and reactive approaches are integral parts of a tiered cyberdefense strategy. Make sure both these types of approaches are integrated into your cyberdefenses to ensure comprehensive and effective cybersecurity in your organization.
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