Improve your network security by eliminating blind spots
Spaghetti and meatballs. Batman and Robin. Peanut butter and jelly. Notice a theme? Well, here are two other pairs that go together as clearly as these, but you might be less familiar with: cybersecurity and visibility, and threat actors, and vulnerabilities.
Cybersecurity threats are at an all-time high as threat actors are ruthless and willing to exploit any vulnerability without regard for the victim. Although many businesses were already on the digitization path, the pandemic spurred acceleration. That, combined with expanding attack surfaces brought on by the work-from-home era and general business growth, has made visibility difficult for CISOs, IT managers, and other security professionals.
The cybersecurity tech industry has made significant strides to address growing needs. For example, traditional antivirus solutions (AVs) have evolved into next-generation antivirus solutions (NGAVs), which offer more features and more sophisticated capabilities. However, even with access to more advanced tools, cybersecurity is too often treated as a set of actions to check off a list or approached with a “set it and forget it” attitude. Worse yet, some businesses, especially SMBs, are under the impression they don’t need cyber tools. Both approaches are wrong for so many reasons.
Understanding that cybersecurity is a strategy that needs to be continuously maintained and verified is critical. Denial of this process is exactly how blind spots occur, creating an open-ended invitation for attackers.
Why is visibility critical?
In short, you can’t defend what you can’t see. Visibility is about continuously and comprehensively seeing your entire attack surface so you can fully understand your risks. Knowing what’s happening across your entire IT infrastructure will serve as a roadmap, helping you identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses and determine whether they represent a real risk. That visibility will serve you well, dictating which risks you should prioritize first.
Are a few tools enough?
With the immense amount of cybersecurity tools and solutions, each with its own features, strengths, and purposes, it’s easy to see how professionals get overwhelmed or believe their chosen tools are enough. Unfortunately, this belief is what leaves businesses vulnerable. Cybersecurity tools should work together harmoniously; their end goal should be to provide better visibility and enable teams to accurately and effectively map out their IT environment.
Achieving comprehensive visibility is one of the most demanding challenges security professionals face and not a problem easily solved. Cybersecurity tools are complex, so even when well-intentioned companies purchase tools or solutions, those tools are often mismanaged or misconfigured, leading to blind spots and a false sense of security. While security teams are stretched thin these days due to a lack of budgets or hirable talent, attackers have all the time in the world to look for infiltration points, blind spots, and unprotected assets.
Consider this as an example: Let’s say your company is using a signature-based AV solution. That will protect you against known threats, but as bad actors become more sophisticated, extensive signature lists become too long to maintain. If this is the path you’ve chosen for your company, you need to ask yourself some crucial questions:
- Do you have another tool that looks at behavior-based analytics to detect threats missed by malware signatures?
- Do you have an endpoint detection and response tool (EDR) in place?
- Are you appropriately protecting your endpoints?
- Are all of your assets being monitored?
- Are you aware of all your assets?
Have you ever heard the saying “junk in, junk out?” Even the most sophisticated SOC relies on your tools, so achieving operational efficiency and security can’t happen if a lack of visibility limits your SOC.
5 Common Blind Spots
As businesses grow, companies continue to add new pieces of technology to facilitate more productivity and expediency. In turn, the latest technology introduces unknown security risks and blind spots.
Although there are numerous causes, let’s look at some of the most common blind spots.
Misconfigurations account for 65-70% of security challenges, and it’s primarily due to security teams not having the necessary in-depth knowledge of a new software or technology’s intricacies. It’s imperative that security teams are aware of common misconfiguration issues and how to mitigate them.
Phishing & Ransomware
Employees are a company’s most valuable asset and their weakest link, particularly when it comes to phishing and ransomware attacks. A lack of security awareness is quite common among non-security professionals, leading uneducated employees to unknowingly open infected files.
Whether for simplicity’s sake or a lack of awareness of the risks, many employees use the same weak passwords repeatedly and for personal and work-related platforms. Try as you may to establish password guidelines, you can’t force people to actually abide by the policy.
Lack of Access Control
Without a stringent and properly followed identity and access management policy, businesses can quickly find themselves in a situation where too many people have access to systems. This can be especially dangerous if you don’t immediately revoke access for employees who are no longer with the company or too many third-party business partners have access.
Some companies are lulled into a false sense of security as more and more traffic is encrypted. However, without ensuring SSL inspection or proper encryption, your network is exposed to malware and other threats.
Visibility is the key to security
Visibility isn’t nice to have; it’s a must if you want to protect your entire environment proactively, including your network perimeter, assets, cloud infrastructure, and more. Blind spots open you up to attacks, and the fallout can be crippling both financially and reputationally.
Identifying blind spots is a constant job, as is reassessing ever-changing attack surfaces. Only when this process is done with continuous intention can companies take a proactive stance towards security and harden their security posture.