Rising to the challenge: How cybersecurity has evolved to tackle new cyberthreats

Technology has come a long way in the last decade and it is still constantly evolving. Newer tech is constantly popping leaving older technology looking like ancient artifacts. Digitization has taken over and everything from information to offline services are virtualized and readily available for access at remote locations across the world. However, with this new age of computing, newer challenges pertaining to cybersecurity have also come to light. Cybersecurity doesn’t just mean protecting an individual device from ransomware or a basic attack anymore. It has now evolved into something much bigger that encompasses entire networks and all the virtual resources. Traditional security tactics and solutions are simply not cutting it anymore with more complex threats in the picture.

Up until even a decade ago, cybersecurity wasn’t as challenging as it has gotten today. There were fewer devices to protect, and virtualization wasn’t yet a big thing. As a result, many resources were located locally and on-premises. This meant that there wasn’t a big threat of cyberattacks. All you needed was a good and efficient firewall and careful maintenance of your resources and you were good to go.

cybersecurity

The threat of cyberattacks was there, but it’s consequences were quite limited and not remotely as terrifying as they are now. With more and more endpoints getting connected to the network from laptops to mobiles to even printers and due to the rise in adoption of IoT, an attack can come from anywhere. The smallest device can act as a gateway for attackers to access your network and take hold of essential data. Data breaches are a common occurrence today and can be devastating to any organization. After several big breaches, enterprises finally started giving security precedence. Enterprises have come to understand a security breach can not only lead to a loss in business performance but also affect an organization’s reputation. This is why security has become an important concern unlike in the past when it was often just a mere afterthought.

Let’s look at some recent shifts that have taken place in the cybersecurity paradigm in recent years that have arisen to handle the growing cyberthreat landscape.

DevSecOps

The biggest issue that has been brought into light lately pertaining to cybersecurity is how it is always considered an afterthought. You can convince the management about the importance of strong security and they might let you suggest some ways to tackle it that involve some cybersecurity software. However, security shouldn’t be treated as a patch that you can add to your deliverables at the very end once the app is produced. There’s only so much an external security agent can do to protect client data and expensive virtual resources. However, if the foundation itself is shaky, that can lead to vulnerabilities inside the application that can easily be found and exploited by attackers looking to wreak havoc on your network as well your client’s data. Therefore, there is a need to weave security directly into the development process. This is where DevSecOps comes in.

Silos don’t make sense anymore as they only hinder efficient security solutions. Having separate DevOps and security teams means that the product reaches the security team at the very last minute just before it is to be put into production. Security teams usually lack the time and clear knowledge about the application. This means not much can be done to help secure an application efficiently. Having an in-depth knowledge of the ins and outs of an application can help security teams spot vulnerabilities before it’s too late. Security teams should be involved in the development process from Day 1 so that they can come up with efficient solutions for potential vulnerabilities and can impose security best practices onto the DevOps teams. At the same time, development and operations teams should be provided training on security best practices including warning them about the use of code snippets from the internet and older project and not to hardcode cloud credentials among other valuable best practices.

cybersecurityTwo-factor authentication

Another threat that can prove damaging is the one that comes from inside the enterprise. With enterprises having a workforce of thousands, it’s common to have a rogue employee that deliberately puts the enterprise in harm’s way. A rogue developer might try to leak sensitive information and credentials that could then be used by attackers. Other than this, employees are also subjected to phishing and other attacks that can help attackers quietly gather sensitive information or use the systems to enter the enterprise network. Some employees might carelessly or accidentally reveal their credentials which could then be used to attack the enterprise network. And in today’s world, each device is equally important and should be secured accordingly.

One of the solutions here is to evaluate the risk profile for every access attempt made by a user. The risk profile will tend to be lower for attempted access from an authorized device connected to the enterprise network without any suspicious activity. However, it will be higher if the attempt to access sensitive information is being made from an external network from a new device.

Another cause for a higher risk profile can be when an employee is attempting to access the information they don’t have the right to access. In the high-risk cases, users can be asked to provide two-factor authentication. This can include biometrics or a one-time password (OTP) sent to a trusted and authorized device. This can considerably lower the risk of unauthorized access, but at the same time, it is important to employ monitoring tools. Some endpoint security tools help monitor user activity and help report any suspicious email or activity directly to security teams. While other tools that use intent-based networking to enable security across the network.

cybersecurityCybersecurity, like technology, is evolving

The market is evolving and changing and it means that enterprises have to stay on top of all the major security threats and make sure steps are taken to protect their networks from them. It is not as simple as it was a decade ago to tackle cyberattacks. The risk is imminent and there needs to be no trust in a security solution or an employee or inbuilt firewalls. The stakes are high and there is a lot to lose if security is not up to the mark. The principle of least privilege should be applied effectively to ensure that no one system or person has more access and rights then they need. Enterprises should invest in state-of-the-art network and endpoint monitoring solutions that help security teams identify suspicious activities and take actions as quickly as possible to avoid any breach.

Digitization and virtualization are only going to grow, maybe even faster than it is today. There is a lot of unpredictability in the market and no one can tell what new technology could become the next big thing in the future. Therefore, enterprises can’t afford a lazy security approach anymore. They have to stay vigilant and careful and ensure their networks and applications are secure. They should apply security patches to their older applications as attackers can sit inactive in a system for years before they decide to go on a full-fledged cyberattack rampage. As enterprises have shifted towards cloud architecture, attackers’ jobs have gotten easier because they can access virtual machines, databases, K8 clusters all from one place. And even though cloud vendors provide basic security, enterprises should employ third-party security tools to ensure their clouds are safe.

Featured image: Pixabay

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