Managed security monitoring programs involve deploying and maintaining controls to scan for and prevent risks, while also assisting your company achieve regulatory compliance. Should incidents occur, managed security helps you deal with them in the most efficient manner. Working with third-party advisors makes all these processes more effective.
Are you considering managed security as a service? Request a consultation to learn more!
Four Steps to Managed Security Monitoring
Security monitoring is a way of dealing with threats proactively, making actual incidents less frequent and less likely to succeed when they happen. There are many ways to accomplish these ends, and many organizations choose to outsource some or all of the process.
One of the best approaches is managed detection and response (MDR), including:
- Implement a risk scanning program to identify threats and vulnerabilities
- Conduct in-depth risk analysis to develop a repository of threat intelligence
- Prepare for incidents with response, recovery, and management protocols
- Ensure all regulatory compliance requirements for security monitoring are met
In an MDR deployment, organizations work with a managed security service provider (MSSP) to optimize processes it would normally cover internally. Whether outsourcing or not, these steps are crucial to installing and maintaining effective intrusion detection and prevention systems.
Step 1: Install Controls to Scan for Risks
First, you’ll need to install cybersecurity architecture that scans for and identifies risks. At the most basic level, that means visibility programs that monitor all assets and systems within your interlocking networks. For example, a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system identifies a security baseline, then compares assets and systems against it regularly.
You might also consider monitoring user access and behavior through Identity and Access Management (IAM). MSSP services can help with any part of the process, from initial strategizing to installation and long-term management of safeguards.
Managing Threats and Vulnerabilities
In cybersecurity, risk is the relationship between two critical variables, threats and vulnerabilities:
- Threats – These are individuals (actors) and the means they could use to harm your organization (vectors) in a cyber attack. The primary focus is on intentional threat actors, but you should also account for unintentional threats like user error or natural disasters.
- Vulnerabilities – These are weaknesses that could be exploited by a threat actor or vector, exposing your organization to harm. Common gaps in cybersecurity architecture include lapsed updates and patches or connections to unknown, unsecured networks.
The likelihood that a threat will exploit a vulnerability, and the potential harm that would incur, is what risk is. Working with an MSSP will help you implement risk-informed managed security monitoring, which calculates risk and accounts for it in threat prioritization and mitigation.
Step 2: Create Analytical Frameworks
Next, you’ll need to develop processes for logging and analyzing any threats, vulnerabilities, or risks your monitoring apparatuses identify. The idea is to turn every potential negative into a positive by digging deeply into what caused weaknesses to appear and dealing with them proactively. The most direct and impactful application is root cause analysis (RCA).
You can also consider more advanced MSSP services such as penetration testing. Pen tests simulate an attack on your system to provide insights into how attackers would operate and whether your systems would withstand an attack—and what you can do to make them.
Threat Intelligence and Awareness Training
One way to put your threat intelligence to use is in IT and cybersecurity awareness training for your staff. Employees need to be educated about the sensitivity of data in their IT environments and what kinds of risks are posed by internal and external threats. Training should begin in the onboarding process, but it should also continue throughout their tenure. A great approach is to incorporate annual or quarterly training based on recently discovered threats or incidents.
Even better, you can use your accumulated threat intelligence to inform incident response tabletop exercises, which simulate attacks to teach employees how to respond in real-time.
This is one of the best ways to leverage past incidents and threats for future response tactics.
Step 3: Prepare for Real-Time Incident Response
No matter how effective your intrusion detection and prevention systems are, the fact of the matter is that incidents can still happen. And you need to be ready to respond to them.
Quality MSSP services include measures for swiftly recognizing, quarantining, and eradicating an attack or other security incident. You need to make sure that the spread is limited and the fewest possible assets and systems are impacted. Then, you need to completely remove any harmful code or remnants of the attack (besides what is necessary for reporting and analysis).
Working with a service provider will help ensure a full, swift recovery and ongoing continuity.
Incident Response vs. Incident Management
The most effective approaches to incident response take a longer-term view. Holistic incident management programs account for future prevention and ongoing customer satisfaction:
- Identification – In addition to scanning for risks, you should also scan for irregularities that could indicate unauthorized access or another breach of your cyberdefenses.
- Logging – Once attacks or other incidents are spotted, they need to be logged immediately for comparative analysis against other known incidents and threats.
- Diagnosis – Analysis will produce an accurate diagnosis of what the incident is, where it originated, and what measures should be taken (by whom) to eradicate and resolve it.
- Assignment – Response resources are gathered and teams are assembled and deployed, with adjustments made as new information about the attack surfaces.
- Resolution – Response practices continue until all traces of the attack have been removed from your systems. At this point, governance may declare the issue resolved.
- Continuity – Throughout the attack, measures should be taken to ensure business continuity to the extent possible, maximizing uptime—and customer satisfaction.
Crucially, the final step should also account for continued compliance, ensuring that breaches are reported per regulatory standards and requirements are maintained to the extent possible.
Step 4: Cover all Regulatory Compliance Bases
Finally, managed security as a service needs to account for any regulatory standards that govern sensitive data classes your organization comes into contact with. Typically, these standards are imposed by governmental or other bodies. For example, consider:
- The Health Information Portability and Availability Act (HIPAA), governed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), requires security monitoring and analysis to identify and prevent threats to protected health information (PHI).
- The Security Standards Council (SSC) of the Payment Card Industry (PCI) mandates that organizations that process cardholder data (CHD) monitor for and prevent risks to it by implementing the twelve requirements of the Data Security Standard (DSS).
Working with an MSSP will help you implement monitoring controls up to the specifications of any standards that apply to your organization—and in many cases, more than one will apply.
Meeting Compliance Assessment Needs Efficiently
The HITRUST CSF is a framework designed to help organizations bolster their security and meet the needs of multiple regulatory standards efficiently. By installing a selection of the CSF’s robust controls up to particular Implementation Levels based on the regulations that apply, you can reduce overlap. HITRUST also allows for flexible assessments, including self-assessment, for differing levels of security assurance required. It allows you to “assess once, report many.”
Working with an MSSP who is a certified HITRUST partner will help you meet all of the security requirements of various standards with one, unified implementation. It streamlines compliance.
Optimize Your Managed Security Monitoring
Implementing managed security monitoring comes down to critical processes of scanning for risks, identifying and analyzing them, responding to incidents, and making sure your compliance needs are met. Working with an MSSP makes all of these processes more effective and easier.
RSI Security provides MSSP services, including monitoring, to countless organizations. We’re committed to serving our partners above all else, and we will work closely with your IT and security team to design and implement protections that create freedom through discipline.