The landscape of cybersecurity is constantly changing, which can make protecting your business a truly Sisyphean task. Sometimes it can seem like for every vulnerability that you fix, another three crop up. You may sometimes ask yourself “Is it even possible to fix every single cybersecurity vulnerability?”
There is no way to fix every single cybersecurity vulnerability. New software with new vulnerabilities is released & old software becomes obsolete every day. Hackers constantly devise new ways to get around security measures, meaning we have to constantly adapt to their attacks.
The fact of the matter is, cybersecurity is a lifelong pursuit. Your need for your cybersecurity team and strategy will be ever-present just like your need for an accountant or bookkeeper. It’s just a part of doing business in this day and age.
Thankfully, you can reduce your burnout and maximize your cybersecurity efforts with a few different strategies. The rest of this post covers both a risk-based cybersecurity approach and a zero-trust approach, both of which, when used in tandem, can help protect your company from cyber threats in a sustainable and healthy way.
How to “Work Smarter, Not Harder” Rather Than Fix Every Single Cybersecurity Vulnerability
The reality of the situation is, your cybersecurity team will never have enough resources or time to address all the vulnerabilities they find. Asking them to undertake that Herculean pursuit with the odds stacked against them could break your employees and lead to high turnover.
Letting go of the need to address every single vulnerability that you discover can be tough. As a business owner, it can feel unnatural to leave a vulnerability untouched. You’ve got to prioritize the ones that put your business at the most risk. Don’t get bogged down by the minutiae that are unlikely to ever be exploited. The health and longevity of your cybersecurity department depend on that.
Additionally, it’s key to structure your organization and company culture around a cybersecurity mindset. Every employee should do their part to help ensure the security of the business’ data. Setting up systems which verify access and authorization frequently are just as important as addressing vulnerabilities.
But how do you begin to prioritize a list of vulnerabilities that never stops growing? And how do you achieve a cybersecurity mindset organization wide?
Risk-Based Vulnerability Management (RBVM)
This is the preferred approach to cybersecurity among industry professionals today. RBVM allows your security team to prioritize threats/vulnerabilities in order of risk. Then you can address them accordingly, directing time and resources to your business’s vital systems and data.
Calculate cyber risk with this simple formula: Threats + Vulnerability = Risk.
Essentially, you cross-reference known vulnerabilities with known exploits of those vulnerabilities, especially within your industry. To take it a step further, you can also factor in the assets or data which are at risk. If it’s sensitive personal data of customers or employees, fast-track that vulnerability for patching.
The larger your organization, the less likely it will be that your team can actually fix every single cybersecurity vulnerability. Every company smartphone, every laptop, every single piece of technology can add vulnerabilities as you grow.
This is when risk-based vulnerability management becomes increasingly important. You don’t want to leave high risk vulnerabilities open while closing low risk ones.
The success of RBVM does hinge on the quality of the data your team makes these informed decisions with. If they’re working with a list of known threats from 5 years ago your priorities won’t be in line with what attackers are doing to access data at all.
In order for this strategy to work, it’s important to ensure you are doing frequent vulnerability scanning or penetration testing. Make sure your IT and Security team is keeping an eye on current events in cybersecurity within your industry.
If you have any questions or would like a free preliminary cybersecurity analysis of your company, please contact us. We’d love to talk with you about your concerns and needs.
Another key component of a proactive cybersecurity strategy is a zero-trust architecture. This approach is best outlined in a fantastic resource by zerotrustroadmap.org. They wrote, “Traditional network architecture was built with the concept of a perimeter network where once someone was on the network, there was an implicit level of trust.”
The zero-trust architecture asserts instead that all traffic in and out of a network must be verified and authorized frequently. The thought process behind this is that if unauthorized access has occurred, even through a compromised user, you can catch it and stop it before the bad actor has time to inflict much damage.
There are seven major components to the implementation of a zero-trust framework:
- Endpoints/Devices – Any device, API, or software service used for the business or that has access to the business’ data. Once you have a thorough web of these pieces and how they work together, you can implement authorization and verification policies tailored to each endpoint or device.
- Users – Establish a list of employees, contractors, customers, and anyone else with access to your network. Make note of what data they need access to and how frequently they need that access. Then you can create different levels of access and authentication required customized to your organization, giving you comprehensive control over your entire network.
- Network – Take stock of all the public, private, and virtual networks within your company. Once you have the overall picture of the network, you can segment them strategically to prevent lateral movement (if you don’t know what that is, read our blog about it).
- Internet Traffic – Every item of outbound internet traffic (users navigating to sites via your business’s internet connection) is vulnerable to malware and malicious sites. It’s important to gain visibility and control over your user’s traffic destined for the internet.
- Applications – These are software resources where organizational data exists or on which business processes are performed. Once you have a comprehensive list of the applications that are in use, you can decide which ones to block outright or set up zero-trust policies for.
- Data Loss Prevention & Logging – At this point, all the zero-trust elements and policies on your network should be generating lots of data about what is really going on within your network. Data Loss Prevention and Logging are processes and tools that aim to warn you of any potential data leakage and help keep your sensitive data within your business.
- Steady State – When you complete the other 6 components of a zero-trust framework, you record processes and policies. This is to ensure all new resources from this point on are integrated into the zero-trust framework. This helps establish consistency moving forward.
You Can Do It!
The sheer number of vulnerabilities that could lead to a cyberattack or data breach can be overwhelming at times. If you and your cybersecurity team embrace RBVM and a zero-trust framework, you can rest easy. You’ll be well positioned to block off the highest risk vulnerabilities AND detect unauthorized movement on your network before sensitive data is exfiltrated.
These tools and frameworks will aid you in protecting your business to the best of your ability with the resources you have at your disposal. And it’ll keep your cybersecurity team feeling effective and content in their jobs. It’s a win for everyone!