By: Jason Elmer, CEO, Drawbridge
The cyber landscape has changed dramatically over the last year. As companies increasingly adopted permanent remote and hybrid work policies, cybercriminals attempted to remain one step ahead – and in many cases succeeded. In fact, the global volume of ransomware attacks increased by 151% in just the first six months of 2021, with the average cost of a breach recorded at US $3.6 million per incident.
The types of attacks threat actors execute has rapidly evolved. In a recent attack on Nvidia, threat actors demanded product updates and open sourcing – a stark contrast from traditional monetary demands by ransomware groups. We are also now seeing the proliferation of weaponized cyberattacks in the face of geopolitical events. This new era of attacks demonstrate that the cyber landscape will never be the same.
How are businesses responding? Cyber and information security is at the top of the list of planned investments for CIOs in 2022, with 66% reporting they expect to increase associated investments. But while planned investments look good on paper, they can only help protect your firm if they are adequately designed and deployed.
Now is the time for businesses to immediately evaluate and buttress their cyber defenses. To begin, here are six strategic cyber investments your business should immediately assess to protect yourself for the next six months – and beyond:
- Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) – SASE is merging many of the great technologies that are critical in hybrid work environments. Zero Trust access to multiple cloud and SaaS services (similar to SSO) with the addition of layered security normally found on physical end points or offices, such as web-filters, mail-filters, and Data Loss Prevention (DLP) tools.
- Single Sign-on (SSO) – The core technology that allows disparate systems all to identify users from a single set of credentials. SSO centralizes access and simplifies management of services and permissions over Clouds and SaaS from a single management point.
- Extended Detection and Response (XDR) – XDR combines the power of endpoint detect and response services with other traditional network security controls to provide a better overall picture of abnormal activity from more than one data point. Abnormal network activity can be tracked and blocked on endpoints before it reaches devices. XDR continues a trend in the cybersecurity marketplace where technologies communicate for better security coverage.
- Real-time vulnerability management – Real-time vulnerability tracking keeps firms secure even in remote environments by monitoring installed software, network information and more. Real-time cyber risk monitoring enables firms to protect their most sensitive data and safeguard against internal and external threats. Continuous risk mitigation solutions and reporting and cyber programs tested using real-world scenarios provide a clear picture of how the business would defend against and respond to an incident.
- Thorough cyber risk assessment – A cyber risk assessment will help your firm make thoughtful cybersecurity procedure decisions. Risk assessments can identify risks to organizational operations and assets resulting from the use of information systems. In the event of a breach or a potential breach, the assessment can reveal the signs early, allowing your business to mitigate the impact of damages, additional risks, or stolen assets and information.
- Employee training – Employees are your first line of defense against cyberattacks and should be prioritized as such. Employee training can heighten employee awareness surrounding critical data and dramatically reduce the likelihood of employees falling victim to phishing attacks. Phishing attacks are particularly concerning as they often begin via email or text message and can result in a widespread breach that affects the entire business. Conducting training with simulated cyberattacks can better prepare your employees for what they may encounter.
Selecting the right solutions that meet your needs
Regardless of the size of your business or the industry in which you operate, you must make cybersecurity a top priority or risk falling victim to malicious parties that can compromise your business operations, third-parties and clients.
But where do you begin? Start by assessing your current cybersecurity program. List all components that are working well, and which features require improvement. Then prioritize your needs and direct your investments to best protect the business and your critical data. This type of proactive assessment and investment is key to remaining vigilant and ensuring your business does not fall prey to devastating ransomware attacks, data breaches or reputational damage.
An attack can happen at a moment’s notice. It simply cannot be overstated – the time is now to prioritize your cyber defenses and invest in protecting your business against the growing number of threat actors. And remember: Cybersecurity is not a one-time, all-or-nothing check box exercise. It is an ongoing, continuous journey to ensure your business is protected.