The growing threat of cyberattacks has made it critical for companies to go all out to protect their assets. At the heart of these protection measures is Continuous Security Monitoring (CSM). These measures enable companies to stay on top of the health and security of their system. CSM is also known as cybersecurity monitoring, network security monitoring, and information security monitoring. No matter the name used, CSM is a proven strategy to reduce the chances of successful attacks occurring.
In this article, I’ll talk about what CSM is, how your organization can benefit from it, and how to implement it successfully. Finally, I’ll show you a few tools that can come in handy for you.
Let’s get started with what CSM is!
What Is Continuous Security Monitoring?
Continuous Security Monitoring (CSM) is a strategy that automates the process of continuously checking and evaluating your operational security. The idea behind this approach is to enable you to identify vulnerabilities and fix them before cybercriminals exploit them. Since vulnerabilities can exist anywhere or crop up at any time, continuous monitoring of your entire network allows you to identify them quickly. Further, it makes sense to automate these monitoring processes to eliminate human error.
Before we go into how CSM works, let’s see why you should adopt this approach in the first place.
Continuous Security Monitoring Benefits
Continuous security monitoring offers many benefits for your organization. For instance, it:
- Provides real-time visibility into your applications and infrastructure
- Identifies vulnerabilities before they become a problem
- Meets regulatory compliance requirements
- Supports internal auditing, capacity planning, and budgeting
- Reduces cyber-attack risks
- Classifies devices to allow you to implement preventive measures
The above benefits enable you to reduce your costs and protect critical assets. That said, CSM also comes with its share of challenges like:
- Identifying critical assets to protect and monitor
- Tracking all network endpoints with remote workers
- Finding the right tools to mitigate threats
Despite these challenges, many organizations use CSM because of its numerous benefits. Now, let’s see how CSM works!
How Does CMS Work?
A CSM tool collects information from all your endpoints, devices, tools, user activity, etc. It does this based on established metrics across the entire organization.
CSM collects data through automated scanning methods and security controls. This data collection process is continuous and in real-time.
The information collected is run against established thresholds continuously, and any deviations are immediately identified. Most cybersecurity monitoring tools have a first-level automated response system that actions a response and notifies the administrator of serious threats.
In general, this is how continuous security monitoring platforms work. That said, you’ll find minor variations with each platform and strategy. Despite these variations, all information security monitoring approaches follow certain best practices like the ones discussed below.
5 Best Practices for an Effective CSM
CSM is a strategy for reducing cyber risks and proactively staying on top of your threat landscape. That said, you’ll need to implement principles and methodologies that enhance your CSM’s effectiveness. Here are 5 best practices to follow:
1. Understand Your Data
Understand how your data can be compromised. Any threat to your data can come from external cybercriminals or internal bad actors like disgruntled employees. Know which players are more likely to compromise your data and plan to protect it accordingly.
2. Identify User Behavior
Your information security monitoring strategies must include your employees and their behavior to prevent insider threats. These measures also ensure that only authorized users are accessing your assets.
3. Set up Auto-Discovery
Use various strategies like web crawling and artificial intelligence to automatically discover new devices, domains, and IP addresses in your network. The auto-discovery process can easily identify and block malicious software from unknown domains and IP addresses.
4. Monitor Your Endpoints
Monitoring the endpoints is another critical best practice for any CSM strategy. Continuously monitor your endpoints and devices to avoid the possibility of cybercriminals gaining access to these devices through phishing attacks.
5. Create a Process for Patch Management
Set up a process to check whether all your devices are up to date. Ideally, use patch management tools that will check and automatically download patches and install them on your devices. Using this tool can avoid vulnerabilities that originate from third party software.
Please note that the best practices mentioned above aren’t exhaustive. That said, they should give you an idea of what you need to consider when implementing CSM.
You should also note that patch management is the most essential best practice to follow. Below I discuss 3 popular automated patch management tools available today.
3 Popular Patch Management Solutions
Patch management is a crucial tool for eliminating software vulnerabilities. As patch management is a time-sensitive and labor-intensive task, leveraging automated tools is beneficial. Below are 3 popular patch management tools with all the features you need to implement an effective continuous security monitoring strategy.
1. GFI Languard
GFI Languard is a comprehensive endpoint security tool that continuously monitors your network to identify vulnerabilities. It assesses your software and patches exploits automatically. GFI Languard also monitors and provides visibility of every part of your network. The best part is this tool is easy to deploy and simple to use.
Languard has auto-discovery capabilities allowing you to find all the end-points in your network. You can view every part of your network through a central dashboard and distribute the management of these devices to specific teams. When using the dashboard, you can manage what vulnerabilities need patching and define the priority for each software. Languard also allows you to conduct rollbacks when needed. All this means your applications will run smoothly, and your network is always secure.
2. Upguard BreachSight
Upguard BreachSight is another good choice for securing your network and sensitive data from intruders. It monitors your attack surfaces continuously to reduce the chances of data breaches and cyber-attacks. It also categorizes risks into six areas, continuously monitors them, and provides an individual security risk score. With this workflow, you can know at a glance what areas need more focus from a security standpoint. Here are BreachSight’s 6 security aspects:
- Website risk
- Email security risk
- Brand protection risk
- Reputation risk
- Malware and phishing risk
- Network security risk
Cloudforce One from CloudFlare is an advanced tool that tracks and stops all threats within a network. It also provides an in-depth insight into the security of all products, tools, and end-points in your network. This provides you with the status of all network devices. You can also access historical threat data to get a better idea of vulnerabilities present within your organization.
Overall, GFI Languard has many more features than others on the list. Languard is also compatible with other GFI security solutions making it a wise choice for businesses already running GFI offerings.
Using patch management software will take you closer to a more secure network. You also can use these tools in tandem with other security-related tools to get comprehensive security coverage .
Here’s a quick recap before I finish.
CSM is a security strategy that continuously checks and evaluates your operational security. The advantage of CSM is that you’re able to patch vulnerabilities quickly before cybercriminals can exploit them. Using CSM also keeps your network more secure and reduces the costs associated with data breaches.
You can use the 5 best practices discussed in this article to help your CSM and patch management strategy. Also, remember to use one of the three popular security monitoring solutions to help enhance your security.
Do you have more questions about continuous security monitoring? Check out the FAQ and Resources sections below!
Does my organization need a continuous security monitoring (CSM) strategy?
Yes, a CSM is a good idea for all organizations to have to mitigate internal and external threats. CSM provides comprehensive visibility across the entire network, so you can quickly identify and fix security gaps. It also helps with auditing and compliance tasks.
What are continuous security monitoring (CSM) tools?
Continuous monitoring tools come with automated capabilities to handle one or more aspects of your security. These tools provide complete control and visibility in their area of operations. This way, they reduce the attack surface area and identify vulnerabilities. Some examples are GFI Languard, Upguard BreachSight, CloudFlare, and more.
Is network security monitoring the same as continuous security monitoring (CSM)?
A network security monitoring provides information about network vulnerabilities and failures. Conversely, CSM tools are more comprehensive and can include end-point protection. That said, it’s common to use the two terms interchangeably especially if a CSM is implemented only for networks.
What’s a proven strategy to enhance the security of my operations?
Many proven strategies include continuous security monitoring (CSM). This is because it reduces the chance of a cyber-attack. You can choose from a wide range of monitoring tools based on your business’s goals.
Should my security strategy be based on risk tolerance?
Risk tolerance is one of the defining factors in a continuous security monitoring (CSM) strategy. Risk tolerance refers to the level of risk an organization is willing to accept. To this end, you can extend your security strategy to different operational areas to balance risk and the extent network security reduces utility.
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