Reactive vs Proactive Cybersecurity – Which Is Better?

reactive vs proactive cybersecurity

If you’re doing business in this day and age, you’re going to be the target of a cyberattack eventually. While you can’t control whether or not it happens, all small business owners can control how much damage a cyberattack does – by carefully choosing their cybersecurity strategy. When it comes to a reactive vs proactive cybersecurity strategy, which is better?

A combination of reactive & proactive cybersecurity strategies works best to both defend against & mitigate cyberattacks. Many managed service providers try to convince their customers that one strategy is superior to another, but we find that a more holistic approach provides better outcomes.

Great – but what IS reactive cybersecurity? And proactive cybersecurity? What techniques and tools can you purchase or apply to incorporate each into your business’ security plan? We’ll cover the answers to these questions and more in the rest of this post.

reactive cybersecurity

Explaining Reactive vs Proactive Cybersecurity 

In order to implement a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that covers both reactive and proactive techniques, it’s important to have a firm understanding of each approach. 

In the timeline of cybersecurity, there’s three distinct periods. Before an attack, during an attack, and after an attack. Proactive cybersecurity centers on what is done before and during an attack. Reactive cybersecurity focuses on what is done during and after a cyberattack. 

All About Reactive Cybersecurity

Simply put, reactive cybersecurity strategy is all about detecting and responding to cyberattacks as they happen. In order to detect and respond to an attack, reactive cybersecurity relies on a number of tools and techniques with a range of purposes. Ultimately, though, each technique comes down to either discovering or planning for an attack. The following are some of the most common methods of a reactive cybersecurity plan.

Endpoint Detection and Response

This method consists of two key components: real time monitoring tools and automated threat response. Real time monitoring tools help you establish what your company’s normal usage patterns are – and highlight unusual activity. Automated threat responses are programmed mitigation actions that are triggered by suspicious network activity. 

By monitoring for unauthorized activity and developing automated responses to that activity, you can drastically reduce the damage an attack has on your business.

Incident Response

This technique is a set of policies developed to guide your team through exactly what to do and who to contact in the event of a security incident or data breach before they can advance or access more data. The goal is to mitigate potential damage and reduce the cost of such an attack.

Need more information about responding to a data breach? Read our blog on the topic!

Disaster Recovery Plan

Developing a thorough and comprehensive recovery plan in the event of a cyberattack can help an organization recover efficiently following an attack. Providing a step by step guide for each department on what steps to take after an attack happens removes the pressure of deciding what to do while in crisis mode.

Vulnerability Assessment

This method involves the review and analysis of your business’ hardware, software, and network infrastructure to look for known vulnerabilities. Once identified, these vulnerabilities can be addressed. While this may sound more proactive than reactive, we’ve classified it here because these assessments typically only search for and identify common threats. 

proactive cybersecurity

Proactive Cybersecurity 101

Proactive cybersecurity strategy hinges on anticipating and preventing cyberattacks before they happen. In order to detect and respond to an attack, reactive cybersecurity relies on a number of tools and techniques with a range of purposes. Ultimately, though, each technique comes down to either discovering or planning for an attack. The following are some of the most common methods of a reactive cybersecurity plan.

Proactive Threat Hunting

Proactive threat hunting is when your cybersecurity team uses means outside of typical cybersecurity measures to search for stealthy cyberattacks. The most common of these techniques are those used to detect lateral movement in a network. Read our blog about lateral movement to learn more.

Building A Culture Around Cyber Hygiene

The most common cause of security incidents or data breaches is human error. If you cultivate a sense of pride and responsibility for cybersecurity in every employee, not just your security team, you’re less likely to experience a breach due to them. 

Regular and frequent training and social engineering exercises can decrease the number of simple mistakes that hackers take advantage of. And it can be incredibly easy to fall for a phishing attempt if you don’t know anything about them.

Penetration Testing

This technique relies on good guy, white-hat hackers who test your company’s systems in order to detect known and unfamiliar vulnerabilities within them. They imitate a legitimate attacker, their thought processes, and their techniques to infiltrate your organization. If they uncover any, you can fix them before anyone else exploits them. 

Data Loss Prevention

Data Loss Prevention is a combination of software and processes that prevent the leakage of sensitive data. Partitioning off data, tracking who accesses it, and monitoring any exfiltration that occurs, whether it’s authorized or not, are all ways to prevent data loss. Additionally, ensuring that you are compliant with applicable regulations regarding data and privacy is a key component of Data Loss Prevention. 

Attack Surface Management

The attack surface of a network includes all digital assets, internal or external. Servers, computers, databases, vendors, or any other avenues that could lead to a cyberattack make it up. An attack surface management plan allows you to identify, prioritize, and manage all endpoints (devices). 

The crucial ingredient to successful cybersecurity is knowledge of your network, inside and out, so you can tell the difference between usual and unusual traffic. Attack surface management is part of that information gathering.

Get To Work, Securely!

With our preferred modality of both methods rather than reactive vs proactive cybersecurity, you can rest easy knowing that your customer’s data is as secure as possible. Preventing as many attacks as you can while preparing to respond to attacks you can’t prevent is a surefire way to make yourself a difficult target for hackers. 

Honestly, that’s a big part of the cybersecurity game too. If you are too difficult to hack, most cybercriminals will move on to a business that is less secured. It’s a sad truth, but you can use it to your advantage. 

How do we implement both approaches to cybersecurity? Learn more about CloudNexus and our services here

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