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Leave the Fear Behind: What the World of Cybersecurity Needs Now



Solutions Review’s Contributed Content Series is a collection of contributed articles written by thought leaders in enterprise software categories. Mark Cooley of Involta examines how resiliency is key to “leaving the fear behind” in the world of cybersecurity.

As we navigate the complex landscape of cybersecurity, the looming possibility of a cyber-attack on any given day and at any given time leads to an ever-present element of fear and uncertainty. From recent thought-provoking movies, like “Leave the World Behind” portraying a nationwide cyber-attack, to the increase in AI-generated deepfakes to new reports of foreign governments using malware to damage civilian infrastructure, cybersecurity stands as an ever-expanding and critical topic of discussion, especially for CISO and CIOs of enterprise organizations.

In our connected world, the threat of a data breach is not a matter of “if” but “when,” and amid this unpredictability, one question arises—

Is it all unrest and uncertainty?

Leave the Fear Behind: What the World of Cybersecurity Needs Now

A Renewed Focus on Resilience

While a nationwide attack often portrayed in movies may be far-fetched, other types of sophisticated and targeted attacks are on the rise, and it is critical to be as prepared as possible. The extensive discussions around enterprise cyber defense and monitoring for potential threats continue to heat up, and the one key element found missing from many enterprise cybersecurity plans is a deeper level of resiliency and preparedness across vital systems in the event of a breach.

Looking back 10 to 15 years ago, the biggest concern for IT teams was simply neutralizing viruses and preventing minimally invasive network disruptions. Over time, threats became more intense as ransomware emerged, and bad actors realized they could make a significant amount of money by holding critical data hostage. Today, these cyber-criminals are getting even smarter, going beyond stealing data and attacking organizations’ backup systems and their ability to recover quickly.

Cyber-criminals are actively aiming to disrupt an organization’s operational efficacy, and when an attack occurs, it can cost millions, if not billions, depending on the time it takes to bounce back. As we become increasingly reliant on technology, we can also expect to see attacks transition more and more into our physical world, such as disabling servers, crashing autonomous cars, or disrupting operations within an HVAC system.

Top Cybersecurity Threats Amid a Dynamic Digital Landscape

The motives driving cyber-attacks are diverse, ranging from financial gain to ideological fury. As we’ve seen over the past few years, beyond monetary incentives, more and more attacks are stemming from political motivations, exacerbated by escalating tensions between countries on a global scale. Additionally, as we enter an election year, the potential for politically motivated threats only amplifies. On the other hand, some threat actors simply attack to boost their reputation as a force to be reckoned with and to promote their ability to take down large organizations.

Just like the motives vary, the techniques attackers employ vary widely, too. Malware, or malicious software, still reigns supreme as the most common cyber-attack, with 5.5 billion attacks detected around the world in 2022. Ransomware, a form of malware, is also on the rise, with more than 493 million attacks reported worldwide. Notably, the United States is the most targeted country for ransomware. In fact, ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly severe, with an uptick in double extortion tactics. In a double extortion scheme, cyber-criminals not only encrypt systems but also seize sensitive data, threatening to release or sell it unless the organization meets their demands.

In addition to malware, artificial intelligence (AI) is a growing concern for many CISOs and CIOs. Scammers are utilizing deepfakes and synthetic media to manipulate and deceive unsuspecting individuals and organizations. These advanced technologies enable threat actors to craft convincing fake content or impersonate others, allowing them to gain access to critical business data, infiltrate an organization’s network, or spread false information. Along the same lines, social engineering ploys are on the rise, with bad actors manipulating victims into handing over secured access to vulnerable systems, causing havoc on companies’ operations.

While tactics, motives, and threats will continue to evolve, uncertainty will always be a factor when it comes to cybersecurity. However, one thing is clear. Organizations can effectively navigate the changing landscape of cyber threats by remaining prepared, proactive, vigilant, and, most of all, resilient.

The Keys to Mastering Resilience

The truth is that security breaches are bound to happen. The important thing to remember is preparedness is paramount. Putting a resiliency plan in place will help ensure the impacts of an attack are minimal.

The DIE model is emerging as a valuable checklist for preparedness with the ability to scale as modern workloads continue to grow more significant by the minute and much of enterprise traffic is moving through an internal connection. Unlike other models, DIE is focused on infrastructure, where impacted assets are more easily disposed of and replaced.

  • Distributed: Are systems distributed in a manner that facilitates scalability while mitigating reliance on a single zone?
  • Immutable: Is infrastructure unchanging over time, or unable to be changed, such as backups and restore data, to be sure bad actors can’t alter or delete data sets?
  • Ephemeral: What is the timeframe for system reprovisioning, and are assets disposable if a breach occurs?

Another valuable model to be used in conjunction with DIE is the CIA Triad, which focuses on the irreplaceable assets of an organization.

  • Confidentiality: Have appropriate steps been implemented to safeguard sensitive information and manage enterprise data securely?
  • Integrity: Is there a method in place to ensure data is not changed or lost?
  • Availability: Can individuals who need to use the information access it easily at any time?

Evaluating your network through the lens of both the DIE and CIA models will help ensure your business can bounce back quickly after a breach. Time is money, and when data is sensitive, companies must be prepared to ramp up fast. As of 2023, 60 percent of all corporate data is stored in the cloud. To ensure resiliency, make sure data is distributed across various platforms, especially utilizing the cloud, where data can be accessed quickly.

One of the most overlooked steps for ensuring resiliency is testing. A recovery plan is essential, and enterprises need to test it thoroughly at least once a year. Many organizations have a plan on paper, and they occasionally read through it. However, when it comes time to execute it fully, they’ve never really tested the “restore” portion of it, or they miscalculated what it will take to restore data access.

Often, the limiting factor to getting up and running fast is the internet connection from point A to point B. Many organizations estimate it will take five or six hours to recover data, but in reality, it ends up taking days — or even weeks. What’s more, even if your data is intact, being able to use it to operate is another story. It is vital to walk through every step of your recovery and business continuity plans often. Make sure you do a physical recovery of the systems to ensure you have enough capacity to restore.

In addition, resilience will be critical as new SEC reporting requirements come into play for publicly traded companies. Breaches must be reported within four days, so there will be more pressure to share a recovery plan sooner. The bottom line: When a breach unfolds, transparency and preparedness will go a long way in maintaining customer and investor trust.

The Crucial Role of Constant Vigilance

While having the ability to restore operations is critical following a breach, threat prevention, and vigilance should always be a top priority to help ward off attacks in the first place. Organizations need to secure every potentially vulnerable access point throughout their network, including IoT devices and other connected equipment that may be susceptible to unexpected attacks.

First, make sure to enlist the help of tools to identify, block, and quarantine potential threats before they reach your network. If your workforce is remote, ensure all devices are equipped with your company’s security tools before employees are able to connect to your systems.

Additionally, it goes without saying that employee training is a critical piece of the cybersecurity puzzle. Implementing an ongoing training program is especially beneficial to keep security at the forefront of your workforce. Additionally, not only is it important to incorporate training that educates employees on how to recognize threats and prevent attacks, but also to know what actions to take when a breach has occurred.

A New Dawn of Resilience

While threats are always looming, as businesses intensify their recovery plans, the impact of a breach diminishes, marking significant strides in reducing current threat levels. Bolstering cybersecurity efforts further, exciting developments are on the horizon, promising to revolutionize how organizations recover from breaches, with governments collaborating to enact impactful changes and the integration of AI to elevate cybersecurity strategies. Despite ever-present unknowns, a transformational shift away from a “fear and uncertainty” viewpoint to a more assured and confident outlook is underway, especially when we prioritize awareness, education — and, most importantly — resiliency.

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