Analyzing and Improving Your Security Posture

April 15, 2024

Cybersecurity is an ever-present concern for virtually every business, but it is especially important for those that handle financial data. Your security posture — your ability to protect your digital assets and respond effectively to compromises that may occur — is critical to the resilience of your company.

Your information security and ability to maintain  regulatory  compliance depend upon your understanding of your vulnerabilities as well as your capacity to detect, defend against, and respond to a cyberattack, and your organization’s capacity to recover from a security breach.

Strong security posture is important for protecting your business.

Does Your Security Posture Need Improvement?

There are a few key points that every organization requires for good cybersecurity:

  • Visibility
  • Control and reporting
  • Maintenance and ongoing compliance

Do you have transparency of the assets in your network? You need a clear view of your entire IT structure and your information security management policies to evaluate core assets and assess vulnerabilities.

For a healthy security posture, you also have to exercise control over access to your systems and maintain up-to-date detection and defense capabilities. You need real-time reports on the status and performance of your systems.

Finally, you must ensure that you are observing ever-changing safety protocols and regulations to maintain information security and compliance.

What Aspects of Your Security Posture Need Evaluation?

security posture

To determine where you need improvements, you need to take a full inventory of your assets and analyze which elements on your network present vulnerabilities. This includes your digital infrastructure as well as your employees. You’ll also need to understand the many ways in which hackers can exploit your systems, and how serious or destructive a particular type of intrusion would be.

Once you have a clear view of where and how your systems can be breached, formulate a plan for detecting compromises to your system and containing and minimizing potential damage.

Asset Inventory

Your assets include any software employed by the organization, regardless of whether it is physically located on your premises, cloud-based, or mobile. They also include the hardware and the people who use these programs and equipment.

If a device or software can connect to your network, it must be included in your inventory. Every program, app, computer, mobile device, or data storage system is a possible vulnerability. Users of your IT should be aware of security protocols as well.

The first step in assessing your security posture is to comprehensively map all assets, including what they are, where they are located, and whether and how they connect to the internet and each other.

Attack Vectors

Once you have evaluated your IT assets, you should have a clear picture of your digital network. Each asset is a possible entryway that an intruder might use to gain access to your network.

Next, you need a thorough understanding of the methods intruders might use to infiltrate your systems and how much of a threat each type of attack poses to your organization.

Vulnerable Software

Older, outdated, or unpatched software or poorly configured installations can allow intruders to attack your network. Flaws that developers overlooked can be found and exploited by hackers as well. These are known as zero days attacks because, by the time they are discovered, programmers have zero days to repair the flaw and mitigate associated risks.

Compromised Credentials

Identity and access management — the process of monitoring and updating who within the organization has permission to view or use various assets — is critical for your security posture. If you are not on top of this aspect of security, you are leaving the door to your networks open.

Weak passwords are a common problem that should be a priority to address. Stolen or fraudulent credentials are an easy way to infiltrate your system, so it’s imperative to improve your requirements for login data and make them complex. A malicious insider attack is one in which legitimate login data are abused for nefarious purposes.

Stolen Keys

The keys to trust relationships or those required to unlock encryption can fall into the wrong hands. This is generally a higher-level attack and can be especially dangerous to your organization if a hacker attains keys and exploits them to penetrate your security systems.

Other Malicious Hacks

Phishing and ransomware attacks both attempt to gain access to your company’s sensitive data by fraudulent means. Phishing generally involves tricking someone with legitimate credentials into allowing access to systems or information, often via email.

Ransomware attacks are focused on locking down your networks until you pay a ransom demand. They generally involve a code-based attack, such as a virus or a worm, to gain access to your system rather than infiltrating your network via an employee.

Denial-of-service hacks are intended to block legitimate users from employing your system services. Hackers will tie up the resources of the network to prevent them from functioning, disrupting normal business operations.

Detection and Containment

The third step in evaluating your current security posture is determining how prepared you are for a cyberattack. Do you have sufficient systems in place to detect an intrusion? Do you have a strategy for containing a threat when you identify one?

These are simple questions with potentially very complex answers. The goal at this juncture is simply to have a clear view of what you have in place and what you need to improve. Make an honest assessment of your current ability to identify a threat and minimize or eliminate the risk associated with the breach.

System Resilience

This portion of your evaluation measures how quickly you will be able to recover after a particular type of cyberattack. The time and costs involved will vary based on the type and intensity of the intrusion. Assess as closely as you can what it would take for you to get back to business as usual after each type of assault on your networks or infrastructure — both in time and dollars.

How Can You Improve Your Security Posture?

You have evaluated your assets and vulnerabilities. You’ve determined whether you have adequate detection and defense systems in place, and you have estimated the damage that various threats could cause to your company.

How do you address each area where your cybersecurity doesn’t meet the necessary standards?

1. Prioritize Risk

Organize threats in descending order of severity. You should address the most serious or potentially damaging types of intrusion first. As you mature your security posture, you will handle all risks, but a triage approach is practical in the early stages.

Be sure to include both lost production and direct financial loss in your assessment. Consider your liabilities regarding compliance regulations as well; fines and penalties can be expensive.

2. Develop a Plan for Improvement

Establish a task-based strategy for reducing risk. This starts with organizing the information gleaned from your assessments. It will probably include some changes in how your network is structured. It may require eliminating assets that are outdated or no longer in use and ensuring that employees are properly trained in security protocols.

Your plan should address your business’s specific vulnerabilities and risks.

3. Monitor Your Network

Having effective software monitoring your network 24/7 is crucial for a good security posture. The system should detect and defend against hacking threats and provide you visibility into every aspect of your information security. You need to know what is operating properly and where there are performance or security gaps throughout your systems.

Ensure that you are aware of relevant regulations and that your security is up to the required standards. Ideally, you have a reporting system that will alert you to any actionable items.

4. Maintain Compliance

Information security is a serious business. Any breach of your network can wreak havoc with your data and business operations. Failure to follow regulations can be financially devastating as well. Compliance is an important aspect of your security posture. Following regulations will protect your data and will also protect your business.

What Is a Virtual CISO?

Many large organizations employ a chief information security officer, whose job is to monitor IT systems, including data, apps, and websites. The CISO is also responsible for creating and implementing security policies and resiliency plans for the organization, as well as keeping an eye on regulations to ensure compliance.

A CISO will recommend best practices for structuring and protecting the network and make sure employees have the training they need to understand security risks and prevent the introduction of threats due to human error.

A virtual CISO performs all the same functions but is fully automated. With a virtual security information service, your systems are always monitored. Reporting and recommendations are centralized to provide you with an integrated and clear view of every aspect of your security posture, along with actionable tasks you can perform to reduce risk.

Which Regulations Must You Follow?

Depending on your business, you might be subject to regulations from any one or more of over 700  regulatory agencies  at the state, federal, or global level.

For example, if you process credit card payments, you are required to be PCI compliant. If you handle health information, you must be HIPAA compliant. If your business collects or handles personal information in the EU, you’ll have to follow GDPR regulations.

The only consistent thing about all of these regulations is that they are constantly changing. To remain in compliance and maintain your security posture, you need to be mindful of all the rules that apply to your operations, keep up to date with any changes to these rules, and follow the current requirements. If you are out of compliance, you can experience more than just financial penalties. You will also lose productivity and could damage your business reputation.

Compliance also requires that you disclose any conflicts of interest, that you maintain diligence in guarding data integrity, and that you are responsible for reviewing or auditing your operations regularly.

What Is ISMS?

An information security management system is a set of controls that protect your assets. To maintain the integrity of your systems, you must keep them updated and functioning properly. This requires that you perform assessments and repairs from time to time.

An automated  ISMS  will remind you of which tasks must be completed and when to perform them. It will also track which items have been completed, which are outstanding, and which will be due for completion in the near future.

How Can You Integrate Security and Compliance for an Optimal Security Posture?

To ensure information security and  regulatory  compliance without placing an undue burden on your staff, you should fully  automate your security requirements. With the right software, you can achieve consistent safety and compliance with one integrated system.

A good virtual CISO can handle all aspects of your security posture. This includes monitoring and guarding the integrity of your data, applications, and infrastructure. Such a system should be constantly updated with the latest strategies to handle security threats, minimize risk to your systems and client information, and improve your organization’s resilience.

Look for an integrated  ISMS  to ensure that actionable items are defined, assigned, and tracked for completion. You also need to keep on top of the myriad regulations that apply to your business and all changes and updates that they undergo.

Finally, you’ll require reporting on all of this information that you can review quickly and easily to get a clear picture of the state of your cybersecurity at any given moment and what you should be doing to enhance or improve it on a day-to-day basis.

Improve Your Security Posture With Automation

Compyl can handle your information security and compliance needs with an interface that is easy to read. You will have your finger on the pulse of your cybersecurity at all times and have tasks broken down into actionable items for easy and constant improvements to your network and data security. In addition, we monitor regulations that apply to your business and ensure that you are in constant compliance.

Get in touch with us today to request a demo of how we can manage your information security needs. We can help you optimize your security posture and maintain  regulatory  compliance.

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