Companies nowadays are rapidly shifting to cloud-based apps. Although this change is aiding organizations in conducting business, cloud-based technology is vulnerable to cyber attacks, hence compromising organizations’ sensitive data.
Cyber threats and hackers are evolving, in numbers and sophistication, targeting businesses of all sizes. Organizations are under constant pressure to protect their sensitive data, in addition to strict compliance standards, where the traditional ways of online security are no longer considered sufficient.
It’s now a priority more than ever for organizations to have a clear vision of their cybersecurity posture. The ability of an organization to counter cyberattacks is referred to as its security posture.
What is security posture?
The security posture of a business is its overall ability to identify and counter different types of malware and protect against security threats and cybercrime to prevent the theft of intellectual property.
Security posture encompasses information security (InfoSec), network security, data security, penetration testing, vendor risk management, security awareness training to prevent social engineering attacks, data breach prevention, vulnerability management, and other security controls.
Your security posture is an evaluation of the following:
- Level of visibility into attack surface and asset inventory
- Compliance processes and controls to protect the enterprise against cyber-attacks
- Real-time monitoring to detect and counter attacks
- Ability to contain and recover from security events
- Automation level in the security program
Why security posture is important for organizations?
You need to identify assets and vulnerabilities within your organization in order to build a strong security posture. Security attacks and breaches can either originate from a malicious party or sometimes happen unintentionally.
Having a strong cybersecurity posture enables organizations to have the following benefits:
A data breach takes place when an unauthorized person accesses confidential and/or personal information.
Data breaches might be intentional, where a hacker targets vulnerabilities, or unintentional as well in case wrong access permissions are given to an employee, a piece of hardware containing confidential information is lost, etc.
Cyber-attacks are carried out with deliberate ill intent to target an organization’s computer network with the goal of disabling, disrupting, and/or controlling stored information.
These attacks can be carried out by people within the organization (contract workers, disgruntled employees, etc.) or external actors (criminal groups, hackers, etc.)
Vulnerabilities and threats
A security vulnerability refers to weaknesses within an organization’s network and can vary greatly—from weak passwords to operating systems not functioning properly.
On the other hand, threats are hypothetical instances identified due to security vulnerabilities that could negatively affect an organization. For protecting your organization against data breaches and cyber-attacks, understanding and analyzing potential threats and their likelihood is vital.
How to assess your organization’s security posture?
Cybersecurity posture assessment involves risk assessments that enable your organization’s security professionals to identify assets and vulnerabilities within infrastructure and solutions to rectify them.
Let’s explore three keys steps in security posture assessment to assess security posture:
1. Get an accurate IT asset Inventory
The beginning of your security posture assessment involves getting a comprehensive and accurate inventory of all your critical and vulnerable assets that lays the foundation for your security posture.
For most security standards, the ability to track and audit your inventory is a baseline requirement, including the CIS Top 20, PCI, and HIPAA. Your organization can keep track of the type and age of hardware as well as software in use by having an accurate, up-to-date asset inventory. You are likely to identify technology gaps and refresh cycles by keeping track of this information.
2. Map your attack surface
Mapping your attack surface is the second step in security posture assessment. Your attack surface is defined as all of the points or vulnerabilities on your network that an adversary can attempt to exploit to gain entry to your information systems. All of these points must be monitored at all times.
3. Understanding cyber risk
Understanding your cyber risk is the final step in security posture assessment. As your security posture becomes stronger, the cyber risk decreases, demonstrating that cyber risk has an inverse relationship with the security posture.
What are the steps to improve your security posture?
Let us dive deep into ten steps to improve your security posture:
Inventory all of your IT assets
Identifying and tracking down all of your digital assets is the first step toward protecting them. Begin with a full accounting of all your computing assets, including those currently in use as well as older systems with components that may still be in operation. An inventory audit must include digital assets used without the knowledge or approval of digital leaders, all assets that connect to the network, and the so-called shadow IT.
Conduct a security assessment
After you’ve inventoried your digital assets, assess the level of risk for each component mapped against known and potential vulnerabilities. This kind of assessment should identify as well as assess risk from your vendors, partners, contractors, suppliers, and service providers that have access to your internal data or systems.
Prioritize risks to business resiliency
Assets that are most critical to business operations must be identified and prioritized, with more resources devoted to them. Perform a benefit/risk assessment on how much of your security budget you should devote to it once you identify the assets that are most crucial to business resiliency.
Establish a consistent patching schedule
Although software vendors are continually identifying and patching security flaws, but organizations often don’t implement them for weeks or months after they’re released. Sticking to a relatively frequent and consistent update schedule will minimize the duration of time a vulnerability is exposed to attack.
Automate threat detection, remediation, and mitigation
Every enterprise now requires a robust suite of cybersecurity tools. Increasingly, security teams are utilizing AI-powered tools to surveil networks 24/7 as well as isolate potentially serious attacks for further investigation. A more proactive cybersecurity posture is achieved by automating threat detection and mitigation and offers some relief for overworked, understaffed security teams. Put your compliance on autopilot while improving your organization’s cybersecurity posture with Sprinto.
Monitor critical security vulnerabilities
Cybercriminals are constantly evolving their means and methods of attack. To protect against rapidly changing threats, your security team needs to continuously monitor and gauge if your IT systems are vulnerable to new kinds of attacks. Threat intelligence feeds that distribute information on cybergangs, and active exploits can help organizations proactively protect their networks against the latest threats.
Adopt a zero-trust framework
As per a May 2021 presidential executive order, federal agencies have to implement a zero-trust framework, which requires all users of federal computer networks to be continuously authenticated when utilizing network resources and to only have access to the data, apps, and systems they need to do their jobs. This makes it difficult for attackers who have breached the perimeter to move laterally within the network.
Transition to a DevSecOps approach
Integrate security into the process of software development and deployment by adopting a DevSecOps approach. Security personnel can swiftly identify and mitigate potential vulnerabilities before code is shipped, avoiding expenses and resources on rework, as well as preventing uncertain code from inadvertently being deployed in production.
Implement cybersecurity training for all employees
Employees are involved in human error in More than 8 out of 10 security breaches—from a manager losing a laptop or phone containing sensitive corporate data, employees revealing their log-in credentials by phishing emails, or an admin misconfiguring server settings to allow public access to proprietary intellectual property.
An organization can minimize exposure to social engineering attacks and malware infestations by educating all employees in cybersecurity fundamentals, reducing its overall vulnerability. Educating employees on recognizing and reporting attacks can reduce response times which is a key element in successful mitigation.
Develop and practice an incident management plan
Proactive security posture management in case the organization falls victim to an attack or suffers a data breach requires having an incident management plan in place to identify, assess, and resolve such critical incidents. For each department head, the plan needs to outline the appropriate responses and detail their procedures and roles.
Strengthen your cybersecurity posture with Sprinto
The first step towards a cyber security strategy is to identify vulnerabilities and place controls in real-time, starting with a cybersecurity audit.
Sprinto is an automated security compliance software that enables you to get an independent, comprehensive analysis of your current cyber security posture, runs compliance checks to consolidate risk, and maps entity-level controls, all from a single dashboard.
It can identify vulnerabilities, expose weaknesses and high-risk practices, mitigate the risk of attacks, and continue to foster trust and confidence with your key investors and customers alike. Get in touch with us now to know more.
Types of security posture within an organization
A strong security posture implies evaluating and strengthening all aspects of digital operations within an organization and can be categorized as the following:
Network security posture
Measures such as next-generation firewalls or automated compliance software that have more layers of security built into them ensure the protection of data, devices, applications, and systems connected to the network.
Data security posture
This describes how organizations protect sensitive data against being lost, corrupted, or stolen.
Cloud security posture
This describes how organizations authenticate users and manage access to sensitive systems to assess and mitigate risks from SaaS applications as well as cloud hosting providers.
Third-party security posture
Between an enterprise, its suppliers, and other external organizations, it maintains the integrity of system connections and data flows.
What is the level of security posture?
The level of visibility you have into your attack surface and asset inventory. The processes and controls you have in place to protect your enterprise against cyber-attacks as well as the ability to detect and contain attacks.
What are the 3 IT security posture principles?
The key principles for a better IT Security Posture are
What are the 5 examples of application security?
The examples of application cybersecurity developers use code to reduce security flaws in the application are:
- Application security testing