In today’s world, data security is a central concern for organizations of any size. With attacks happening more frequently and with greater sophistication, organizations must take an increasingly aggressive stance towards protecting their cyber networks and assets against unauthorized access. At the forefront of this effort to combat new and emerging threats has grown a reliance on the tools and best practices utilized to protect enterprise systems from attacks that originate both externally and internally.
Adopting the tools, methods, and best practices that compromise enterprise network security solutions can offer a range of benefits for organizations of all sizes. In this article, we’ll dive into the advantages that come with adopting enterprise network security solutions and practices. We’ll look at how these solutions help you protect your data and cyber assets and importantly create the framework for making lasting cybersecurity decisions that will reduce your risk of suffering a breach or other harmful event.
Enterprise network security management is centrally focused on identifying key areas of risk and mitigating that risk to the highest degree feasible. These solutions approach this problem in a variety of ways, from deploying a network architecture that enhances security, to creating an ongoing training and awareness program for staff to stay aware of current and emergent threats. Because of this, enterprise network security solutions are comprehensive, addressing weaknesses or vulnerabilities on a number of levels, while working towards creating an enterprise it security policy that helps address ongoing areas of risk.
One misconception about enterprise network security solutions is that they are only available to very large organizations, such as multinational corporations, banks, or government entities in critical infrastructure. While it is true that these organizations have a scale that allows them to establish a robust cybersecurity program internally, this doesn’t mean that the technology or underlying knowledge and expertise informing their cybersecurity implementation isn’t available. Organizations of any size can utilize external security consultants to help develop or deploy a cybersecurity program that is informed by industry accepted best practices. This is an advantage for organizations that understand their level of risk but lack the scale to develop their own program internally.
There is a common misunderstanding of the level of risk that all organizations face, and this misunderstanding informs decisions about what level of security implementation you need and why you should care about cybersecurity at all. It may not be an overstatement to say that most people today are at least somewhat aware of the rising frequency of large-scale data breaches affecting companies and governments around the world. Chances are, your personal data has been affected by one of these breaches in the past. Yet despite the daily headlines about the most recent breach, many organizations continue to rely on a relatively weak cybersecurity implementation that opens them up to vulnerabilities.
The truth is, the threats facing organizations today are more advanced, pervasive, and persistent than ever before. This is highlighted by a recent report by the Council of Economic Advisors which found that the economic impact of cyber attacks in the United States was between $57 – $109 billion dollars in 2016. While the economic impact of these attacks is staggering, it is also worth paying attention to who is carrying out these attacks. The report found that there are six broad groups of threat actors that stage these attacks, and include nation-states, organized crime, corporate competitors, and disgruntled employees.
What this information demonstrates is that the threat landscape facing organizations is becoming increasingly broad. Threat actors staging attacks have a wide range of capabilities and are funded and organized on a level that wasn’t seen in the past. Threat actors may have a financial, political, or personal motivation for the attack, making it difficult to anticipate where an attack will be coming from and what the target of that attack will be.
By adopting an enterprise cybersecurity strategy, organizations are able to better positioned to proactively address new and emergent threats. Today’s organizations are faced with advanced persistent threats (APTs) that require an approach to cybersecurity that is proactive and constantly at a heightened state of alert. What is emphasized by the Council of Economic Advisors report but is often overlooked is the fact that cybersecurity risk is shared by many organizations. Weakness and vulnerabilities in one industry may translate to attacks in another industry. Through a strong cybersecurity implementation, organizations not only reduce their own risk but the risk of other entities that share their same vulnerabilities. In conjunction with this, by approaching cybersecurity as a shared responsibility, organizations can pool resources and knowledge that allows them to quickly adapt to emerging threat vectors.
Vulnerability and Threat Assessment
One of the greatest benefits that utilizing an enterprise network security solutions bring is an enhanced ability to identify vulnerabilities. In some cases, an enterprise security solution will eliminate areas of vulnerability entirely, such as through the development and implementation of a more secure network architecture that reduces your attack surface area. At the same time, enterprise security solutions and managed security services offer greater vulnerability detection. For example, through constant network monitoring and regular penetration testing, security providers can identify key vulnerabilities that can be addressed before they become a harmful event.
By quickly identifying and addressing vulnerabilities, you’ll often thwart what would otherwise be a successful attack. One common area for vulnerabilities is in outdated software or unpatched systems. These can be highlighted during a vulnerability assessment and your software and systems can be brought up-to-date before an attack is successful. At the same time, a patch management system can be implemented to ensure that future software patches are deployed on a regular basis.
Enterprise network security solutions not only help identify and shore up vulnerabilities before they can be exploited, but are also informed by active threat intelligence monitoring that helps organizations become more resilient in the face of emergent threats. Through threat intelligence monitoring, organizations are able to incorporate knowledge of emergent threats into their cybersecurity implementation. This reduces the window within which they can be successfully attacked. The downside of effective threat intelligence monitoring is that it requires an awareness of emergent threat vectors, the types of tools that threat actors are utilizing, and a knowledge of the types of attacks facing your specific industry. Because of this, it is largely outside of the capabilities of smaller organizations that don’t have a dedicated cybersecurity program.
Enterprise network security solutions aren’t simply about utilizing certain tools or hardware to minimize the chances of a harmful event. Within the suite of enterprise network security solutions is the creation of a security policy that enables organizations to become more resilient and have a cybersecurity forward posture. If you aren’t sure what is enterprise information security policy, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Enterprise information security policies must incorporate accepted cybersecurity best practices but are also informed by your industry, level of risk, tolerance for risk, and capabilities. Most information security policies can be characterized as a risk-management approach to cybersecurity.
The risk-management approach to cybersecurity is embodied by the National Institution of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework. If you aren’t familiar with the Framework, it was designed for implementation in critical infrastructure. However, this voluntary Framework serves as a useful roadmap for the creation of a robust cybersecurity program. At its core, the NIST Framework is concerned with identifying the level of risk that faces an organization and then implementing appropriate controls to minimize that risk to an acceptable level. The Framework is designed to be flexible. There aren’t strict requirements for specific types of hardware or systems, but rather a recognition that the implementation of cybersecurity best practices is the most effective approach for reducing risk as a whole.
The flexibility inherent in the NIST Framework is necessary because each organization has different needs. Not every organization is protecting critical infrastructure, and so not every organization faces the same level of risk as another. What is important, and what the Framework stresses, is that organizations identify cybersecurity threats as an area of ongoing risk that must be addressed on every level of the organization. This means that organizations that adopt a comprehensive information security policy must be risk-informed from the top down in order to address not only the threats they face today but also the threats they will face in the future.
Create a Culture of Security
One of the challenges that many organizations face isn’t securing their cyber systems and assets, but also securing their personnel. As the report released by the Council of Economic Advisors stated, employees and contractors utilized by an organization are a key area of risk that must be addressed. While the report highlights disgruntled employees as a threat actor, an unwitting employee that lacks a basic understanding of the risks facing the organization and their role in the cybersecurity program can represent a vulnerability.
One of the ways that some of the largest and most successful organizations protect their systems and data is through effective training of their personnel. This can be a difficult and time-consuming undertaking, yet is essential for creating a security-minded culture within your organization. Developing and implementing a security awareness program can bring your employees into the fold on cybersecurity threats facing your organization. Training programs highlight the important role that each individual plays in maintaining the overall security of the organization and are incredibly important for creating an organization that is more resilient in the face of varied threats.
Creating a security-minded culture is one important part of an enterprise security solution, but it works together with other measures that limit access to sensitive data or systems. For example, an effective enterprise security solution will ensure that strong access control measures are put into place, which limits access by harmful actors to sensitive data and systems. Access control measures are essential for limiting the ability of harmful actors to move horizontally across network systems. Developing and implementing access controls is one crucial part of a comprehensive cybersecurity program.
Enterprise network security solutions aren’t one thing, but rather a constellation of tools, policies, and measures utilized to create a comprehensive cybersecurity program. The purpose of using an enterprise security solution is to enhance your organization’s resilience and ensure that your cybersecurity implementation reduces your risk to an acceptable level. The suite of services and tools included in an enterprise security solution include things like implementing strong access controls, developing a security awareness training program for staff, deploying a patch and vulnerability management program, and creating a network architecture that enhances system resilience and security.
Supporting these efforts must be a robust enterprise information security policy that helps organizations identify and manage the risks that they face. As the economic toll of cybersecurity events rises, the need for organizations to create a security-focused culture from top to bottom is growing. Today’s businesses must operate in recognition that cybercrime and cyberterrorism pose an existential threat. In light of this, organizations must make operational and business decisions informed through a lens of cybersecurity and supported by a comprehensive information security policy.
While not every organization will have the resources or scale to implement an adequate cybersecurity program internally, they can gain access to the same tools, knowledge, and best practices through a third-party security provider. By outsourcing key parts of their cybersecurity efforts, organizations can have a cybersecurity program that is just as effective. This approach has the advantage of reducing costs associated with having a large cybersecurity footprint, while also giving organizations access to a pool of expertise and capabilities that are generally reserved for much larger entities. A third party security provider can help your business create and implement a comprehensive security policy that incorporates industry recognized best-practices and ensures you are more resilient in the face of the threats you face today and the threats you will face in the future.