Cybersecurity Monitoring: Importance, Steps and Examples

Payal Wadhwa

Payal Wadhwa

Jan 17, 2024

cybersecurity monitoring

“Boards are having the wrong conservations about cybersecurity. They focus on protection when they need to focus on resilience.” – A report by Harvard Business Review

Shifting the mindset from protection to building resilience requires a new, deep perspective at an organizational level. It’s no longer about “this is how we’ll respond to an attack” and more “let’s assess what kind of risks could possibly persist in the first place”.

Investing in cybersecurity monitoring plays a crucial part here by adding a proactive approach when integrating resilience into overall organizational cybersecurity strategy. It brings new attack vectors into light, helps build strong defences, and identifies areas for fine-tuning.

This blog delves into the importance and examples of cybersecurity monitoring along with actionable implementation steps.

What is cybersecurity monitoring?

Cybersecurity monitoring is the process of identifying and analyzing the security environment for any areas of threat, suspicious behaviour, potential data breaches, or and attacks. This involves observing network traffic, activity logs, endpoint devices, servers, etc. to proactively recognize security anomalies.

Why cybersecurity monitoring is crucial for organizations?

Cybersecurity monitoring helps identify potential security vulnerabilities and protect mission-critical data across cloud environments, remote setups and on-premise infrastructure. It provides a comprehensive view of attack surface exposure thereby reducing downtime and upgrading cyber resilience.

Here’s why you shouldn’t think twice when investing in cybersecurity monitoring:

Threat actors are progressing fast

With zero-day exploits, hackers today have started exploiting vulnerabilities not known to the developers. The rise of multi-stage and intricately planned attacks necessitate the need for swift detection and robust restoring capabilities. Cybersecurity monitoring acts as a watchful eye and an early warning system for the organization against evolving threats.

Response turnaround time must be expedited

Early threat detection and real-time alerts help in containing security incidents rapidly, minimizing prolonged threat repercussions and downtime. Cybersecurity monitoring acts as a business continuity enabler ensuring smooth operations and resolving events quickly.

BYOD policies are increasingly popular

While remote working and BYOD policies offer advantages such as cost savings, flexibility, and employee satisfaction, they also introduce security complexities. Additional endpoints become susceptible to malware infections, access from insecure environments, incidents of device loss or theft, etc.

Cybersecurity monitoring helps with better endpoint management, unauthorized access identification and deviations from normal behaviour patterns, enhancing data protection.

Compliance management has to be proactive

Cybersecurity monitoring enhances visibility into IT infrastructure and assists with threat detection, incident reporting, log management and other security activities.

The constant emphasis on maintaining a secure environment facilitates improves policy enforcement and active cybersecurity compliance management.

Preventing breaches requires preemptive measures

IBM highlights that 39% of the costs are incurred even more than a year after a data breach. Adopting a pre-emptive approach to data breach prevention makes perfect sense.

Cybersecurity monitoring tackles this security stress by regularly implementing user behavior analytics to catch anomalies and helps patch vulnerabilities. This helps organizations proactively protect data from the pressing implications of a data breach.

What are the steps for implementing cybersecurity monitoring?

Cybersecurity monitoring, as a process, is implemented in four phases— identification, preparation, execution and review. This encompasses the identification of monitoring objectives, selecting the right tools, drafting policies, deploying monitoring infrastructure, training the workforce, and reviewing progress against threat detection.

Here are the 6 implementation steps you need to take:

Determine risk-specific security goals

While some organizations may look for a quick-patch, the longer, more structured method may prove more beneficial in the long run. High-risk assets and security priorities vary for businesses and that’s where risk-focused security goals come into the picture. To understand what an organization precisely needs from cybersecurity monitoring, it must:

  • Assess the current threat landscape
  • Align security and business objectives
  • Foster collaboration amongst multiple stakeholders
  • Score risks based on criticality
  • Set measurable security goals

This helps chalk out a strategic plan tailored to your unique cyber protection needs.

Also check out: Cyber security goals

Source and vet the right tools

Your cybersecurity monitoring efforts can be supported by a range of tools-Security information and event management tools, intrusion detection systems, network traffic analysis tools, endpoint detection systems and more.

Base your decision on the fundamental risks identified and choose a tool that:

  • Is compatible with the organization’s specific needs – check features and functionalities
  • Fits the security budget – calculate real return on investment
  • Integrates with other internal cybersecurity tools – look for faster setup and deployment
  • Is intuitive – validate ease of navigation and user-interface
  • Has market reputation – check vendor reviews

You can pick a single tool to solve specific-problems, a combination of these or a comprehensive tool like Sprinto that takes care of cybersecurity monitoring as well as security compliances.

Outline policies and procedures

A cybersecurity monitoring policy functions as a strategic compass, directing the team’s next steps. It must include purpose and scope, monitoring objectives, procedures and tools, roles and responsibilities, training, policy enforcement and violations etc.

There should be a communication plan for the policy, any exceptions should be notified and all supporting documentation must be attached.

Deploy monitoring infrastructure

This is the next step in the preparation stage for seamless working of cybersecurity monitoring tools. Any server connectivity settings, configurations, backup mechanisms and other infrastructure must be deployed. Since these components support crucial implementation efforts, these must be periodically tested and updated.

Train the Workforce

There are 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity job vacancies in 2023 as per a report by cybersecurity ventures. The existing workforce has to battle the cyberthreat storm all managing juggling through various tasks and leading to frequent burnouts.

It is imperative to close knowledge gaps and empower the workforce with necessary resources for upskilling. Train them to identify and close vulnerabilities and let them earn those bug bounties!

Regularly review and improvise

To ensure continuous improvement, gather insights from incident response experiences, feedback from stakeholders and observations by surveillance teams. Also take into account industry trends and evolving threat patterns when collating these learnings and document the final summary as a trusted reference.

Cybersecurity monitoring tools and techniques

Cybersecurity monitoring tools are used to identify signs of malicious activities and other security risks and gain insights into network and systems behaviour. SIEMS, network traffic analysis tools, intrusion detection systems, endpoint management systems etc. are some examples.

Check out these cyber security monitoring tools with examples:

SIEM

Security information and event management tools help maintain a unified repository of security-logs in real-time. By gathering data from multiple sources, these tools enable event correlation and raise context-rich suspicious activity alerts.

SIEM’s extensive features also include automated responses as well as reporting and forensic analysis capabilities, making them a versatile tool for cyber monitoring.

Example: Exabeam Fusion

Exabeam Fusion is a cloud-first SIEM solution that is designed to help organizations with effective threat detection, investigation and response.

Core functionalities

  • Centralized log Management with advanced search and filters
  • Integrated threat intelligence for better threat detection
  • Behavioural analytics and machine learning for identifying deviations
  • Automated investigation for meaningful insights

Also read: Best practices of security compliance management

Intrusion detection systems

Intrusion detection systems serve as an early warning system for any unauthorized access, abnormal network behavior, malware infections etc. Network traffic is compared to baseline normal activities to identify any indicators of compromise and flag suspicious behaviour.

IDS help with proactive threat detection at initial stages thereby preventing them from becoming full-blown security events.

Example: Suricata

Suricata is an open-source intrusion detection and prevention system that uses a signature-based ruleset for identifying any malicious activity or abnormal network traffic behaviour.

Core functionalities

  • Multi-threaded infrastructure for inspecting multi-gigabit traffic at high-speed
  • Automated protocol detection for identifying malware
  • Can capture and analyze data during TSL/SSL exchanges, HTTP connections and DNS activities for pinpointing any security compromises
  • Network security monitoring for comprehensive visibility into potential issues.

Vulnerability scanners

Vulnerability scanners scan networks and systems to identify weaknesses or vulnerable points that can be exploited by hackers. These vulnerabilities include misconfigurations, weak passwords, suspicious applications and more.

By highlighting vulnerabilities and providing a detailed overview, vulnerability scanners facilitate swift patch management and guide other follow-up actions.

Example: Nessus

Nessus (developed by Tenable) is a vulnerability scanning solution with capabilities to assess both traditional IT assets and cloud infrastructure for any security weaknesses.

Core functionalities

  • Comprehensive database of vulnerabilities for broader coverage
  • Scans potential threats in cloud infrastructure before deployment for a reliable cloud environment
  • Configuration auditing for identifying insecure configurations
  • Remediation guidance after malware detection

Explore: List of Vulnerability scanning tools

Endpoint detection and response

Endpoint detection and response systems provide threat detection capabilities on endpoints like laptops, mobile devices, cloud, networks etc. These tools leverage machine learning, behaviour analytics and threat intelligence to identify any deviations in user behaviour, networks, processes and more.

EDRs raise contextualized alerts, reducing false positives and offer full-visibility into the endpoint while automating remediation.

Example: Carbon Black

Carbon Black is an endpoint detection system that provides instant visibility into endpoint devices, inside and outside corporate networks.

Core functionalities

  • Incident triage for reducing downtime
  • Tackles malware, non-malware (fileless attacks) and living-off-the-land attacks—the ones that can be bypassed by traditional security measures.
  • Remote-shell access to endpoints for rapid troubleshooting and incident response
  • Enhanced visibility from initial point of compromise to post-attack activities

Security compliance automation solutions

Security and compliance are inherently connected and so compliance automation solutions facilitate efficient cybersecurity monitoring. These tools give real-time visibility on security posture, evaluate effectiveness of security controls, escalate deviations while enforcing security policies.

These tools identify gaps and weaknesses in existing controls and also integrate with other tools like access management, vulnerability scanners etc.

Read how Sprinto helped Uncover, continuously monitor security gaps without additional infrastructure deployment and achieve compliance. We made sure security and compliance are ingrained to the organization’s core functions.

Automate Cyber Security Monitoring with Sprinto

In this complex digital landscape, every device, user, software and application are susceptible to vulnerabilities and that’s where cybersecurity monitoring precisely plays its part. However, the volume and complexity of data, latest attack patterns, round-the-clock monitoring requirements and skill and resource constraint call for automated solutions.

Sprinto uses adaptive automation capabilities for 24/7 monitoring and centralized visibility. It has in-built endpoint detection, templatized security policies and enforcement mechanisms as well as proactive alerting capabilities. There’s also automated evidence collection and auditor collaboration dashboard for painless audits.

Want to simplify cybersecurity monitoring and enhance your posture? Talk to our cybersecurity experts today.

FAQs

How automation improves cyber security monitoring?

Automation reduces human effort and error by streamlining tasks like log management, data collection and analysis, round-the-clock monitoring, swift threat detection and response and compliance management. These solutions are scalable, handling large and complex data with ease and help organizations stay ever-vigilant.

How network traffic analysis tools help with cybersecurity monitoring?

Network traffic analysis tools track network activity and traffic in real-time. Any potentially malicious behaviour is detected after studying network data packets while supporting forensic investigations and incident response.

What are some challenges in implementing cybersecurity monitoring?

Some challenges in implementing cybersecurity monitoring include growing sophistication of threats, large volume of alerts and false positives, less trained personnel, budgetary constraints and maintaining visibility in remote environments.

Do vendors need to know you are engaged in cybersecurity monitoring?

It depends on your relationship with the vendor, the sensitivity of information being monitored and legal or contractual requirements.

Payal Wadhwa

Payal Wadhwa

Payal is your friendly neighborhood compliance whiz! She turns perplexing compliance lingo into actionable advice about keeping your digital business safe and savvy. When she isn’t saving virtual worlds, she’s penning down poetic musings or lighting up local open mics. Cyber savvy by day, poet by night!

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