Nowadays, practically a day doesn’t go by that we haven’t been reluctantly informed of another breach in data security. Sensitive information belonging to millions of users is constantly at risk and it seems like even the big players like Facebook and Google (and by extension, the little guys) haven’t been able to keep security on a satisfactory level. In turn, we – the users – have been informed of said security breaches after quite some time has passed and kindly asked to change our login information. Which begs the question, is it so difficult to detect a cyber attack? And why exactly?
You know that saying If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it? Well, there are few industries it applies as well as it does to cyber security. The world of cyber security is hard to defend because of its very complex constitution. Aside from its size, IT networks need to be highly functional in order to provide constant and quick access to employees, customers and selected third parties WHILE KEEPING THE UNWANTED ENTITIES OUT. Therefore, for the user, the multiplex nature of an IT network is its greatest advantage. It is also its greatest risk, from the perspective of a cyber security officer. With so many threat factors to pay attention to and prepare defense mechanisms for, the job consists of numerous challenges.
Let’s see what some of them are:
1) Inadequately secured network
Having a complex IT network as part of your business environment poses a significant challenge when it comes to defending it. Yes, it might also be challenging for a (newbie) hacker to try and get in, but the size of the network is irrelevant if left unguarded or unproperly secured. That is why it is important for companies to invest time, money and legwork in securing their IT network right off the bat leaving attackers no room for performing security breaches. Having a developed cyber security strategy to implement would go a long way here.
2) Unaddressed vulnerabilities
Software developers continually work on testing their product with the goal of finding ways of improvement. Not only do they focus on upgrading key software features to make them more appealing to consumers, but also its security levels. As soon as a new security patch is released, hackers get to trying to find a way around it leading to creating and releasing a new security patch by developers, and so on. Hence, swift implementation is the key here. The amount of time from when you are informed of a security threat, to when it is fixed, to when you actually update your software can mean the difference between your IT network being secure and being hacked. In that time, no matter if it’s a few days or a few hours, it is vulnerable to all sorts of cyber attacks, which means your business is at risk.
3) Excessive reliance on technology
Implementing a cyber security strategy largely means putting in place a set of codified procedures for detecting cyber attacks on the IT infrastructure based on a list of expected types of attacks and specific activities they involve. However, some companies find themselves doing ONLY that, neglecting the human role in the defense system. What they expect is that the deployed technology detect threats and serve alerts, using increasingly sophisticated analysis techniques, from event correlation and heuristics to machine learning. But, monitoring technology can be manipulated and blindspots in coverage can be exploited meaning that technology can be defeated or evaded by attackers skilled in breaking it. Therefore, making employees care about cyber security can turn out to be the protective barrier that ultimately keeps your company IT network safe.
4) Too many points of access
The less the number of users with access to an IT network, the less chance it can be compromised. The fewer permissions one user has, the less damage they can cause if their user accounts are compromised. You need to set a defense perimeter around the different kinds of data in your IT network with access permissions granted only to those who need specifically that data in their work. Not every part of the system needs to be accessible to everyone in the company. Segregating compliance duties and controls in this way will make it harder for outsiders to damage your IT network.
5) Threats from employees
As much as the human factor can play a big role in defending an IT network, it can endanger it just as much. That is why employees often present the biggest threat to a company’s cyber security, sometimes out of malicious intent (selling off data or sabotaging a database to get revenge for perceived mistreatment), but most of the times simply out of an innocent mistake. By leaving their own personal accounts vulnerable, employees leave a door open for their business ones to be taken over as well. However, educating your employees on the latest cyber security risks and actions required to defend against them is just one of the steps to protect businesses from cyber attacks.
6) Third party negligence
What every company also needs to pay special attention to are third party users that can access parts or their entire IT network. E-commerce websites can be particularly vulnerable here as they need to provide some kind of access to banks and other related entities in order to provide the complete service to their customers (processing financial transactions, providing IT support, etc.). They act as extensions to your company’s IT network, meaning they can also be targeted by nefarious actors just to gain access to you and need to be protected just as well to avoid all the devastating effects cyber attacks can have on a business.
Finally, in order to protect your business against cyber security threats, you need a solution designed from the ground up with all these factors evaluated and prepared for – everything from creating a secure IT network and patching it regularly, through not depending only on technology, deftly assigning access permissions and minimizing the employee risk factors to making sure your partner companies don’t endanger your company either.