Proactive vulnerability management is a must for any business that handles customer data
Safeguarding an organization’s digital vaults
Every organization takes relevant measures to keep their systems and data safe from cyber threats. However, the digital age comes with its own set of challenges and vulnerabilities. It is not easy to judge how far hackers and cyber miscreants would go to breach the corporate information networks. These threats could be directed from outside or even inside the organization. Many times, an innocent unmindful act by a new employee turns out to be very harmful.
Can we bullet-proof the corporate networks? What if something was overlooked that left open a gap for cyber-attacker to make in-roads into the business systems?
Repercussions of a security breach
The impact of a security breach could be far-reaching. A business revolves around data from and about its customers. The customer data could have Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or HIPAA related protected information. Protecting that data is the number one priority of a business to maintain trust with the customer. Therefore, it is vital that an organization’s digital vault is always guarded, as a breach of private data can negatively impact business credibility. It may even lead to punitive damages or regulatory fines.
A system break-down due to a virus attack on the other hand can cause business downtime impacting internal productivity and external sales resulting in financial loss. This simply would double the time and cost involved in reinstating security measures, along with the cost incurred due to lost business, and unwanted panic in the process of bouncing back. The situation calls for proactive measures to protect the digital vaults by enhancing cyber security and related processes.
A breach in IT security can raise eyebrows on business credibility
Ways to take on security breaches
One can turn a blind eye to this ever-looming danger of information security breach or burry our heads in the sand like an ostrich and believe that a breach won’t happen to their networks. Purchasing insurance coverage is another solution for protecting against the fallouts from cyber-attacks. However, a more holistic and proactive approach is called for to protect the overall digital infrastructure of a company.
A preventative solution for vulnerabilities in IT security
CES recommends a proactive and preventative approach to managing vulnerabilities. Securing the network perimeter, keeping end-point devices patched, and setting up clear access protocols are a must to shield data repositories from infiltrators.
There are two sides to this approach:
- Technology Focused
- Process Focused
The technology focused approach requires the organization to identify, prioritize, and remediate known vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cybercriminals to gain access to applications, systems, and data. Regular scheduled scanning of IT infrastructure helps find and fix vulnerabilities.
Proactive vulnerability scanning, assessment and remediation protects the IT infrastructure against perennial cyber-attacks.
Identifying, quantifying, and prioritizing security vulnerabilities in an environment can be difficult without proper methodology, skills, and toolsets. A customized Vulnerability Assessment approach tailored for the specific needs of the organization helps manage vulnerabilities. The approach should involve:
- Asset Discovery
- Vulnerability Scanning
- Vulnerability Assessment
- Vulnerability Remediation
The process involves taking stock of the infrastructure assets (Asset discovery) like servers, desktops, laptops, OS, applications, databases, etc. This inventory database must be updated every time new systems are added, or existing systems are removed from the environment.
A good vulnerability management approach includes continuous 24/7 monitoring and integration with patch and configuration management. Ability to assess the scan reports and spot missing patches, errors, and weaknesses in system configuration settings, and general deviations from policy are also part of this approach.
Vulnerability Remediation would involve activities like Patch Management which is the process of packaging and deploying the required security patches to targets requiring remediation. Without a vulnerability testing and patch management system, old security gaps may be left on the network for extended periods of time and allow hackers or DDoS attacker to creep in through hidden backdoors. Necessary processes should be in place for routine deployment as well as emergency patch deployment.
Information Security should be an important part of the overall corporate risk strategy.
Despite the best measures taken to secure IT infrastructure and prevent cyber-attacks, there is a human element where an error can take place. The mistakes could be mischievous or unintentional. There are processes and best practices that can be institutionalized to prevent such incidents. We will discuss the processes and best practices in a different blog but some of these are: Guidelines for strong password, Multi-level user access, separation of authority, etc.
As IT moves towards becoming a utility and is increasingly being delivered from the cloud, businesses must invest in proactive Vulnerability Management. It should be part of the digital culture of a modern enterprise. The cost of Vulnerability Management should only be seen as a small insurance premium for the peace of mind of business stakeholder. Information Security should be an important part of the overall corporate risk strategy. For more information or a conversation on how CES can implement Vulnerability Management and safe-guard your environment against cyber-attacks, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.