The primary goal of all cybersecurity programs is minimizing or eliminating the threats posed by hackers and cybercriminals. Since no system can eliminate the risks associated with a data breach or adverse cybersecurity event, effective threat detection and response solutions should focus instead on accounting for and addressing these assaults when they happen. Nowadays, threat response solutions come in many different shapes and sizes, from basic infrastructure to niche services.
Best Threat Detection and Response Solutions
Threat detection and response is a realistic approach to cybersecurity; it stipulates that attacks will occur and designs protocols to identify and correctly respond to them when they do.
No company is completely safe from cybercrime. In which case, what threat response solutions provide is damage control. The following sections break down four of the best solutions for any type of company:
- Preventive, defensive cybersecurity infrastructure
- Seamless compliance with regulatory frameworks
- Comprehensive threat and vulnerability management
- Managed cybersecurity incident detection and response
But first, let’s consider why these solutions are so crucial for your company to implement.
Which Threats Pose the Biggest Risks
While no two attacks are identical, generalized data on security events across various industries is immensely valuable for all companies’ cyberdefense planning. Consider the following takeaways from Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR):
- Brute force or stolen credentials accounted for over 80 percent of hacks
- Nearly 60 percent of all incidents involved a denial of service (DoS) hacks
- Over 40 percent of known, measured breaches targeted web applications
- Of all malware incidents specifically, over 25 percent involved ransomware
Ultimately, accounting for threats specific to your industry is key to preventing damage to your business. For example, Management is particularly prone to large breaches (25 measured in 2020) but not to smaller attacks (zero measured in 2020; just one unknown). Conversely, Finance saw 32 small breaches in 2020, compared to 28 bigger ones (and 388 unknown).
#1: Preventive Cyberdefense Infrastructure
The first solution to detect and respond to security threats is building up your company’s cyberdefense networks and systems. Overall, this minimizes your risk profile. Additionally, the design and implementation of cybersecurity architecture play a significant role in reducing the threats your business faces.
Vital infrastructure and architecture comprise perimeter protections (see below) and safeguards for wireless and cloud networks. As businesses become more mobile, especially due to COVID-19 and work-from-home mandates, attacks on smartphones and internet of things (IoT) technology have flourished, giving rise to innovative approaches like “zero trust.”
Nowadays, there is value to be found in protecting sensitive data regardless of who is accessing it. Hence the importance of access control.
Identity and Access Management
One of the most important elements of strong, preventative cybersecurity infrastructure is robust identity and access management. Your company needs to restrict access to its most sensitive data with a system of authentication based on strong, regularly updated user credentials.
A strong identity and access management program includes:
- Strict minimum length and complexity requirement for passwords
- Regular, frequent required updates to passwords (i.e. every month)
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA) with an additional device or biometric
- Limits on access sessions; prompt termination upon completion of tasks
Given these baseline controls, all user profiles need to be inventoried and monitored for irregular behavior to neutralize internal (or faux-internal) threats.
Proactive Firewall and Web Filtering
Another integral piece of cybersecurity architecture comprises perimeter defenses designed to keep malware from entering your company’s networks and servers. Among these, some of the most important are “firewalls” and proactive web filtering technologies, like Cisco Umbrella.
In general, firewalls work by identifying irregular or suspicious agents attempting to enter your network and then blocking them based on criteria defined by the organization. Automation takes the guesswork out of detection.
Cisco Umbrella adds an additional layer on top of other existing screens, finding malware that passes through your firewall and flagging or eliminating it before it does further harm. For more information on exactly how the Umbrella works, consult our OpenDNS data sheet.
#2: Regulatory Framework Compliance
The second way to maximize the efficacy of incident detection and response involves streamlining regulatory compliance across your enterprise. Most regulatory frameworks have built-in requirements for detection and response that your company will need to follow. Responsible companies should strive to exceed these requirements.
Two of the most prevalent and wide-reaching frameworks are:
- HIPAA – All healthcare companies are required to uphold incident detection and response protocols for before, during, and after a data breach occurs related to patients’ data.
- PCI-DSS – Similarly, most companies that process payments via credit card are required to monitor for, and immediately respond to compromises of consumer financial data.
Even if your company is not directly involved in these industries, it might scale into them. When that day comes, the threat detection built into these frameworks is tailored to the specific risks you face when processing health and financial data.
Patch Monitoring and Reporting
Compliance requirements can be extremely complex and challenging, whether your company is working to meet them for the first time, sustain controls, or exceed the bare minimum. For all of these goals, a patch management program of monitoring, reporting, and correcting gaps is appropriate.
For example, consider the position of companies seeking contracts with the US Department of Defense. To achieve preferred contractor status, they need to comply with a set of requirements established across the DFAR and FARS. This involves compliance with multiple frameworks, including NIST SP 800-171 and the Cybersecurity Model Maturity Certification (CMMC).
To facilitate mapping and tracking all controls across these types of frameworks, a simple patch availability report makes clear what work to prioritize in patching existing gaps.
Compliance and Security Management
Oversight of regulatory compliance typically falls under the jurisdiction of a chief information security officer (CISO). Which means recruiting and retaining an excellent CISO is a key factor in threat detection and response. However, many companies are now outsourcing to virtual CISOs.
Using a vCISO to streamline compliance management is an ideal threat response solution for small to medium-sized businesses with more modest IT budgets. Rather than hiring a full-time, often C-suite level employee, you can contract experts at a steep discount. Additionally, a vCISO offers the flexibility of on-demand service. Then, internal IT staff, or managed IT resources from a service provider, can handle the daily tasks of threat detection and response.
#3: Threat and Vulnerability Management
The third solution to threat detection and response is integrating a threat and vulnerability management program into your company’s IT infrastructure. This type of vulnerability management prioritizes monitoring and analysis to mobilize threat intelligence. This differs slightly from a more incident response focused approach, which we’ll touch on below.
Threat management begins with publically available resources, two of the most valuable being:
- NVD – The US government’s standard list, presided over by the National Institute for Standards and Technology, ranks threats by severity and other vulnerability metrics
- CVE – A more comprehensive, proprietary list, compiled by MITRE, that informs the NVD and accounts for even more niche and uncommon risks not indexed by NVD
By indexing these and internally developed lists, your company will generate a matrix of which potential threats pose the biggest actual risks — and prioritize monitoring accordingly.
Third-Party Risk Management
A significant component of overall vulnerability management involves accounting for one of the biggest and most complex vectors of risk: your vendors, suppliers, and the broader network of strategic partners. Mitigating their threats requires third-party risk management (TPRM).
A strong TPRM program extends protections for your company’s own internal risks. It also covers all third-parties you do business with. It begins with a comprehensive onboarding process that screens third-parties and enables visibility from the very beginning of your first touchpoint. Then, TPRM continues throughout the relationship, ensuring they maintain compliance and visibility respective to your internal threat detection standards.
Internal and External Penetration Testing
The deepest and ultimately strongest cyberdefenses are informed by offense — or a close study of the tactics used by hackers and cybercriminals to compromise your data. Enter penetration testing, a form of ethical hacking that empowers threat detection, analysis, and response.
There are two main forms of penetration testing that monitor for different (but related) risks:
- External – Also known as “black hat,” the attacker begins with limited knowledge of your company’s defenses, and the goal is measuring how quickly they can compromise them
- Internal – Also known as “white hat,” the attacker begins from a privileged position, and the goal is studying exactly how they would behave once they have already infiltrated
Also, many companies employ hybrid “grey hat” tests that incorporate elements of both, or “red team” initiatives that simulate even more complex, multifaceted attacks from multiple angles.
#4: Managed Detection and Response
Finally, the most direct solution to the challenges of threat detection and response is developing a dedicated managed detection and response (MDR) program. This is a systemic approach that isolates resources for the sole purpose of monitoring, analyzing, and mitigating damage done by cybersecurity risks before, during, and after they turn into full-blown attacks.
A powerful MDR program incorporates many of the solutions defined above, especially threat management and compliance. It also mirrors threat and vulnerability management. One area in which it stands out, however, is its focus on Root Cause Analysis (RCA), a practice of digging into identified threats to understand and eliminate their origin within the company. In addition, MDR places a far greater emphasis on incident response than TPRM.
Cybersecurity Incident Management
The hallmark of managed detection and response, as noted above, is a focus on incidents themselves (as opposed to risks, or proto-incidents). To that end, strong MDR programs may further isolate the functionality of incident management to a dedicated expert or team.
An effective incident management program includes the following six steps:
- Real-time identification of cybersecurity events
- Immediate logging and inventorying of incidents
- Analytical investigation and diagnosis of incidents
- Practical assignment and prioritization of resources
- Complete resolution of incident and lingering effects
- Long-term recovery and proactive preventative efforts
This can all be accomplished by internal personnel, external service providers, or, in many cases, a collaboration between both. In all cases, training your staff is one of the best ways you can bolster your cybersecurity.
Company-Wide Training and Awareness
Finally, what is arguably the most important element of effective MDR and cybersecurity is a focus on your personnel’s IT and security awareness. The protections you build are ultimately moot unless your staff knows how to maintain safe behavior.
First and foremost, robust training needs to be integrated into the onboarding process for new hires. This includes practical exercises based on real-world threat intelligence and theoretical training for all possible threats. For example, one of the most common cybersecurity threats is cyber phishing. Employees need to be put through simulated phishing drills to know how to respond to social engineering attempts. They also need to understand the warning signs for DoS, “man in the middle,” and other threats they may encounter.
While new employees’ training is crucial, they’re not the only ones at the company who present cyber vulnerabilities. Mandatory training sessions for all employees held throughout the year can ensure that your personnel’s cybersecurity defenses are up-to-date.
Professional Threat Response Solutions
Here at RSI Security, our talented team of experts has provided MDR and other cyberdefense solutions to companies of all sizes, across all industries, for over a decade. Whether your needs fall into one of the categories detailed above, or your company needs niche services like cloud security, open source scanning, and technical writing, we have you covered.
To see how powerful and efficient our threat response solutions can be, and how simple we can make safeguarding your company and its stakeholders, contact RSI Security today.
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