When it comes to cyber security, resting on your laurels is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. New malware threats are emerging at a breakneck pace – according to the AV-TEST Institute, nearly 400,000 unique malicious strains are identified every day. Even if that figure seems inflated – and it’s worth noting that some security firms have placed that number as high as 1 million – it only takes one malware strain, one vulnerability or one breach to completely upend your business.
The current threat landscape is something of a minefield for even the most experienced cyber security professionals. Ransomware, phishing emails, denial-of-service attacks – the list of clear and present dangers goes on and on. How can small and medium-sized businesses, which account for 61 percent of data breach victims, according to the 2017 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report – hope to keep their critical data and systems safely out of the reach of malicious external actors and internal threats?
If your current cyber security setup is even a little outdated, an upgrade is absolutely necessary. As the Verizon report noted, just because you haven’t been breached doesn’t mean your system is secure or that you’re flying under the radar of data thieves. The data breach wheel of fortune simply hasn’t turned your way just yet. And while it may not seem financially prudent to purchase cyber security defences when you have yet to experience a malware incident, rest assured that the right tools are a worthwhile investment. Here are three to strongly consider:
1. Zero-day endpoint protection
Zero-day threats are perhaps the most worrisome cyber security issues out there, as they take advantage of unknown vulnerabilities, making them extremely difficult to prevent. When a new zero-day threat rears its head, there’s typically a mad scramble to patch system vulnerabilities and update threat lists to stamp them out. For cyber security professionals, addressing zero-days can feel like a never-ending game of Whac-A-Mole. But endpoint protection can help.
Defence in Depth is your best tool for combating zero-days.
Although not a single platform or piece of software, “Defence in Depth” is your best tool for combating zero-days. The basic idea is creating a layered defence system, so your coverage is as wide as possible. Doing so on your own isn’t easy, but managed security service providers can help make Defence in Depth a reality for your organization. In addition to outfitting your network and system with the best cyber security options available, MSSPs take on the burden of keeping these tools up-to-date and capable of defending against the latest threats. No need to worry that your system is vulnerable, because these cyber security professionals have you covered.
2. Data encryption
Regardless of how good your cyber security setup is, you always want to be prepared for the worst and have a comprehensive breach response plan in place. One of the best ways to minimize the fallout from a breach is to encrypt your sensitive data, both at rest and in transit. This way, if either a hacker or an internal actor – say, a disgruntled employee – manages to access and exfiltrate your files or other data, they won’t be able to actually view that information without the encryption key.
In the event that consumer data is stolen from your database or network, encryption will also protect you against industry or governmental regulations regarding consumer data privacy, as they often list data encryption among their stipulated guidelines. More than that, though, you will be able to demonstrate to affected customers that you have acted in good faith and that they can rest easy knowing their personal information cannot be viewed.
3. Real-time monitoring
When malicious actors get into your system, you want to root them out as soon as possible. Hollywood may present hackers as a smash ‘n’ grab breed, cracking systems, grabbing files, and quickly making their exit, but that’s far from reality. It’s generally more lucrative to stay hidden and surreptitiously exfiltrate data for as long as possible. The most costly breaches are often the least “noisy,” managing to avoid detection for months on end. In 2015, Infosecurity Magazine reported that, on average, hackers remained within organizational networks and systems for more than 200 days before being detected. They can cause a lot of damage in that amount of time.
Real-time monitoring tools like security information and event management software make it easier for companies to identify intrusions. By looking for suspicious activity, you can quickly spot threats hiding within your system and minimize the opportunity for data exfiltration. MSSPs can help with these endeavors, offering round-the-clock coverage and support so you can respond to intrusions as soon as possible and minimize remediation time.
The one thing to keep in mind here is that there’s no reason to go it alone. The cyber security landscape may be daunting, but a reliable MSSP will help you safeguard your system and protect data against the most pervasive threats lurking in cyberspace.
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