Different organizations and companies will define the stages within the lifecycle of a cyber security event a little differently. The American National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) follows a four-step process of preparation, detection & analysis, containment, eradication & recovery, and post-incident activity. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) quantifies the process with five stages: prepare, identify, assess, respond and learn.
What’s clear is that the cycle is a never-ending circular motion. No matter how prepared your company is, the learnings from every attack should be fed back into the preparation stage, so you can harden your security posture and be better equipped as you move forward after an incident.
But, to gather the proper learnings and defend systems from future attacks, you must conduct a thorough investigation, which is perhaps the most challenging of all stages. Being proactive is an essential part of threat identification and handling. Quickly and effectively responding to threats is the key to minimizing impact.
With teams stretched thin and cyberattacks becoming more frequent, severe, and complex, AI and automation solutions are the answer to fast and thorough investigations. AI technology can ingest billions of data points from research institutes, news and industry outlets, and other sources of chatter to continuously learn and become smarter.
At the same time, AI can analyze malicious or suspicious files, make sense of the thousands of IT systems and log alerts, determine relationships, and ultimately decide which alerts are benign versus real threats. AI can reduce time-consuming tasks significantly, and its risk-analysis capabilities give analysts the information they need to make decisions and remediate threats.
That said, all the technology and security tools won’t be enough if they aren’t used properly and teams don’t have the correct processes in place to conduct optimal investigations that reveal the truth behind the data.
Don’t believe us? Let’s look at some examples that show how things can go up in flames when businesses think they’re entirely protected and put security on the back burner.
No matter what you think, things can always be done better, smarter, and in ways that truly sure up your defenses.
As the saying goes, admitting you have a problem is the first step to fixing things. Regardless of size, every company is vulnerable to attacks. Enterprises may be able to pay exorbitant ransoms or hire experts to negotiate, but smaller businesses don’t have those resources. Given that nearly half of all small businesses experienced a cyberattack last year and 60% of companies go out of business within six months of a data breach, not accepting you can be attacked and not preparing appropriately can have dire consequences.
More tools don’t equate to guaranteed protection. Neither does having a best-in-breed solution which can also have weaknesses that hackers will exploit. A case in point: the Solarwinds attack. The fact that hackers wormed their way into an organization with the highest level of security and went undetected for months only proves that solutions are fallible and need to be tested constantly. You should also take steps to simulate attacks and test your team’s response to learn when improvements need to be made.
Of course, whenever a vulnerability is found, it needs to be patched right away. But what about more accessible points of entry? Your employees are your most valuable asset, but they are also the most vulnerable, particularly if they aren’t trained to identify suspicious emails. Phishing attacks account for 80% of reported security incidents. You can dramatically cut down the chances of this kind of attack by educating your employees on how to identify phishing scams.
Cybersecurity is never a one-and-done situation. As much as we’d like to think our tools and strategies keep us ahead of hackers, that’s just not true. New threats emerge almost daily, and that means that tools that worked a few years ago are probably outdated unless they are built with AI technology. Cyber strategies need to be updated to meet the times and the current trend of dispersed teams. It’s imperative to use micro-segmentation and zero trust policies.
For those who see themselves making this mistake and need a new solution, a Security Operation Center (SOC) could be the answer. A SOC can dramatically increase the quality of your investigations because the system ingests data from every source but provides one pane of visibility into your environment. AI-powered SOCs can cut through the noise, remove false positives and expose malicious actors in seconds. Smaller teams should look to fully-managed SOCs as they will benefit more because the solution is backed and monitored by experienced teams of threat hunters, analysts, and other cyber specialists.
Unfortunately, there’s now one single way to mitigate attacks or accomplish thorough and effective investigations into incidents. You need to have the right tools and strategies to prevent attacks from happening in the first place, but, as attacks are likely, you need to have the proper procedures to address every phase in the threat lifecycle diligently.
Unfortunately, many SMBs don’t have the manpower or resources to adequately conduct investigations let alone handle the entire security process end-to-end. For those in that position, it’s best to find a cyber firm that can take the weight off your shoulders while providing the protection your company needs and deserves unless you want to end up as a statistic.
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