6 Tactics to Combat High-Level IT Security Threats

The number of cyber-attacks and security threats across the country and throughout the globe has gone up – but there’s an even more critical problem businesses should worry about. The complexity and threat-level of those security breaches have increased, becoming more sophisticated. It’s increasingly more common for hackers to target larger companies—oftentimes, many at once. Today’s malware tends to have many different attack vectors compared to malware five or ten years ago. This means IT security is even more integral now to the overall health and integrity of your company’s data infrastructure.

One of the most recent cyberattacks to make the headlines sent ripples out across the world as Internet usage flickered out for many large businesses and popular online services, such as Netflix, Twitter, and the Financial Times. The attack on the New Hampshire-based Internet performance management company, Dyn, was carried out as a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that came in waves. The result was literally hundreds of thousands of devices around the world infected with malware.
cyberattack motivation chart
Hackers are becoming emboldened, and as activity from hacktivist groups and both cyber warfare and espionage remain somewhat steady, the world of IT security has to rise to the challenge of protecting and preventing future attacks. If the DDoS on Dyne was any indication of the scope or power of hackers out there, then companies most certainly need to reevaluate their level of IT security to ensure they have something capable of handling high-level security threats such as these.

1. Increase awareness for all users, regardless of skill level or position

Employees are going to be the ones who inevitably encounter the malware or trigger vulnerabilities on the network, so doing something to raise their awareness to cyber security threats can go a long way toward protecting the company’s data infrastructure. This encompasses an understanding of software employees should avoid and behavior that could open vulnerabilities in the network, including not clicking on links from unknown or suspicious sources, browsing unsecure sites, or accessing data from unprotected access points (like public Wi-Fi).

2. Monitor internal networks and log activity

Keeping records of all security event data within your network is crucial to forming an understanding of what might be happening. Some companies have ways of aggregating and centrally managing this information, others might not be so fortunate; but it’s important to realize that there is very telling security data to be found within the various log sources of your network, including firewalls, routers, and applications. This data can be put to real use, to help guide or shape security policies, or mitigate a potential problem before it causes an actual security breach.

3. Use the data you’ve collected to act against security threats

You have to leverage any data you collect if you hope to improve your security measures, and when the malware and attacks are becoming more complex, you can’t afford not to put that information to actionable use. After realizing they’ve suffered a breach, many companies come to find that they actually had evidence of the attack but because they didn’t review their logs, aggregate the data, or do anything with their findings, the attack was left there undiscovered.

4. Develop detailed threat models and understand the flow of data in your company

Like the aggregation and utilization of security data, threat models are a practice companies often neglect. Companies should know who has access to what data, where that data can be accessed from, and what sort of third-party/hacker would be interested in their data. Knowing this information can help limit access to those who absolutely need it, minimizing the chances of a breach. The goal with threat models is to reduce the likelihood of infiltration by having a clear understanding of the flow of data, from the individuals accessing it, to the locations it can be securely accessed from.

5. Assess and manage network vulnerabilities

Businesses should be using a network vulnerability assessment tool to ensure patch levels are updated when they need to be, run at least routinely (weekly, monthly, etc.). Failing to patch terminals can cause missed security updates, which can lead to vulnerabilities and breaches—all of which can be prevented by regularly updating the network and managing the vulnerabilities in your system.

6. Disclose security policies and enforce all practices transparently

It should go without saying but if you have policies in place to maintain the company networks, everyone should be privy to what those policies are and how best to follow them. Further, you have to be proactive in enforcing those policies. If a company doesn’t demonstrate that they take IT security seriously then employees are unlikely to take them seriously themselves.
To match the growing complexity and threat of malware and other security threats, IT security has also improved its defenses. The problem is that not many companies have or know how to incorporate high-level tactics to fight these advanced dangers, which is exactly how and why so many organizations have faced down the consequences of a serious breach. If you’re ready to have your network security reach the next level, contact the professionals for a quote today.