With growing cybersecurity concerns across the globe, businesses everywhere are wondering what the best method of defense is to protect themselves from cyberattacks. Cybersecurity professionals are forced to be agile in an attempt to not only prevent breaches, but do so while remaining compliant and keeping costs low.
Overall, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, especially considering the complexity of many environments has increased due to a shift to mobile and the cloud. But regardless of the complexity of your environment and network, a proactive approach to security with a proper threat management strategy is a great place to start.
In a nutshell, threat management is a specific network security approach that implements a number of different moving parts and pieces, designed to spot and thwart threats before they breach a system. Dealing with threats on a case-by-case basis can be difficult, but taking a more proactive approach to monitoring threats helps to improve your overall security posture and stop malicious activity before it turns into something more.
To truly protect your business from cyberattacks, a comprehensive threat monitoring approach is necessary to address the rapidly-growing threat landscape including malware, ransomware, blended threats, spam, phishing attacks, and even intrusion at the gateway or endpoint levels.
So how can threat management protect your business from cyberattacks? Take a look at some of the most popular methods and approaches behind a successful threat management strategy.
One of the best tools to implement into your threat management strategy is an intrusion detection system, or IDS. An IDS is typically a software application that works to monitor for suspicious or malicious activity, and sits between your firewall and the rest of your network. Because of this, even if unknown traffic is able to circumvent your firewall, the IDS adds an extra layer of security to stop the traffic from accessing the rest of your network. While a firewall analyzes packet headers, intrusion detection systems analyze entire packets, including both the payload and header. As soon as any malicious activity is detected, the system then reports it directly to the system administrator or to a security information and event management system (SIEM).
The job of the SIEM is then to use its alarm filtering abilities to decipher whether the activity is actually a malicious or a false alarm. The ability of the systems vary greatly however, as intrusion detection systems range from simple antivirus software to advanced systems that can monitor the traffic of the entire network. Some tools, also known as intrusion prevention systems (IPS), follow the same exact process of collecting data and identifying malicious activity with the added ability to block malicious traffic.
A business’s firewalls, servers, and other equipment have log files that contain important information, providing insight about malicious activity that could affect your network. And in addition, log data and effective log management can also help with identifying and repairing equipment or configuration errors. But since these logs track any and all traffic within the network, the tremendous volume of files can make analyzation difficult to say the least. And that’s where log management tools come in. With log management software, the long and tedious process of manually reading and responding to log data is eliminated.
These software tools are able to read, respond, and interpret information within your equipment log files to provide real-time updates of any potential threats or equipment issues. Some larger companies however with extreme volumes of files are required to use a centralized log management system, using a server to collect records and store log data for future analysis. Managers can then use the analysis of these logs to detect security events that have the potential to affect the entire organization. Why is effective log management so important?
Mainly because no want wants to end up like Target. Target missed several obvious warnings that were ultimately discovered by reviewing logs, long after over 40 million customer credit card numbers were stolen. Had they noticed either of the instances where malware was installed within their system, the attack likely could have been stopped. But instead, experts have estimated their slow response to the attacks and the lawsuits stemming from them could end up costing the company north of $1 billion.
One of the oldest and most used methods to repel threats is a very heavily reinforced firewall. A firewall is usually either software or hardware based, and is the cyber barrier between a trusted network and an untrusted or unknown network. It controls access through a positive control model, which means the only traffic allowed on the network is the traffic defined in the firewall policy and any outside traffic is denied.
While firewalls generally tend to be the strongest layer of security, their issue is that a clever hacker understands that hacking a firewall is for the most part, unproductive. All it takes to bypass one is a little social engineering, some simple phishing emails, and one unprepared or under trained employee to put your network at risk. This reason alone is why your threat management strategy should also include added security controls to prevent cyberattacks like network segmentation and endpoint security. By securing all endpoints, you ensure that no employee laptop or cell phone allows an attacker to gain access to your network.
Ultimately the goal of threat monitoring is to protect your business from cyberattacks and prevent intrusion by staying ahead of the game, instead of attempting to deal with threats once they’ve already breached the system. It’s a tall task and requires a very proactive approach to security, but it’s without a doubt less risky and costly in the long run. And with today’s technology rapidly advancing to keep pace with cybercriminals, much of the work that used to be manual and tedious is now completely automated, leaving network administrators to do their job instead of sifting through piles of log data.
Proactive may be more work, but more work is certainly worth less risk, isn’t it?
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