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You know the changing threat landscape as a business executive or cybersecurity expert. Hackers are becoming more intelligent daily, employing ever-sophisticated tools to attack businesses, sabotage operations, and breach essential IT assets.
You must evaluate and improve your organization’s cybersecurity posture to protect it from these attacks. This article covers depth knowledge of How to Assess and Improve Your Cybersecurity Posture.
What Is Cybersecurity Posture?
An organization’s overall strategy for defending against possible cyberattacks is its cyber security posture. It is described as follows by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST):
Based on the information security resources and capabilities in place to manage enterprise defense and respond as circumstances change, the security status of a company’s networks, information, and systems. Along with the many security solutions implemented, like antivirus and malware protection software, this covers all security policies and personnel training programs.
Your company’s cyber security posture refers to how well-prepared it is to defend itself from prospective attacks. It includes every equipment, procedure, security rule, and training program you have implemented to safeguard it from attacks and threat actors.
The Importance of Cybersecurity Posture
Understanding your security posture is essential since failing to do so can leave your company open to potential threats and attacks in the future. These occurrences can lead to business interruptions, data loss, reputational harm, regulatory fines, and civil litigation from parties dissatisfied that your company failed to take adequate protection against its cyber risks.
Understanding your cybersecurity posture will help you assess how ready you are to handle such hazards. The only way to tighten security controls and create a more secure operating environment is to determine where the organization is most vulnerable.
Cybersecurity Posture vs. Cybersecurity Risk
Cybersecurity risk and cybersecurity posture are not the same thing. The latter refers to a possible loss that might be brought on by a cyberattack or data breach. Cybersecurity posture is the state of the organization’s security, more precisely, the readiness of its networks, hardware, software, services, applications, and sensitive data.
How Is Cybersecurity Posture Measured?
Measuring an organization’s cyber security posture involves three crucial steps:
- Creating an inventory of IT assets
- Mapping attack surface
- Understanding cyber risk
Step 1: Compile an IT Asset Inventory
Your IT asset inventory is a comprehensive list of all the networks, computers, software, and security tools your business employs. For each asset, the data must be precise and thorough.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Categorize IT assets by type, sub-type, role, location, and internet-facing or not.
- Get in-depth information about each asset, including open port status, software and hardware details, user accounts, and linked services.
- Evaluate how each asset contributes to your enterprise’s cybersecurity posture.
- Ensure all assets operate on licensed and updated software and comply with security policies.
- Create “trigger actions” whenever an asset deviates from your enterprise’s security policy.
- Decommission assets that are no longer being updated or used.
- This is an essential step in assessing your company’s cybersecurity posture because it enables you to spot technology gaps and update cycles, as well as get rid of outdated software that can put your company at risk.
Step 2: Map your Attack Surface
The network points a cybercriminal could use to access your information systems are part of your attack surface.
Generally speaking, your attack surface increases with the size of your business. If the number of access points on your attack surface is hundreds or thousands, you must ensure they are constantly being watched to stop sophisticated cyberattacks.
Step 3: Understand your Cyber Risk
Understanding cyber risk, or the potential loss or exposure probability from a data breach or hack, is the last step in assessing your company’s cybersecurity posture. The smaller your enterprise’s cyber risk, the more robust its cybersecurity posture.
You need to measure cyber risk for each point of the attack surface. For this, you must consider the following:
- The importance (the “business criticality”) of the IT asset
- The severity of any known vulnerability
- The effectiveness of your implemented security controls
- The overall threat level (for example, whether any cybercriminal is currently exploiting an attack method)
- Strategies to Fortify Your Security Posture
Strategies to Fortify Your Security Posture
Here are some actions you may take to improve your cybersecurity posture:
Automate Asset Inventory Management
As your IT environment expands, manually maintaining your asset inventory will become time-consuming and laborious. However, if maintaining a solid security posture is your aim, you must have an updated inventory. Thus it would help if you embraced automation.
If automated, your asset inventory management process will run more smoothly and with fewer errors. Real-time asset inventory updates allow you to immediately adjust security protocols and protect the security and integrity of your assets.
Continuously Monitor All Assets and Vulnerabilities
Check all assets for weaknesses across several attack vectors. Utilize a vulnerability management program to assess each vulnerability routinely. Ensure the risk owner has a plan to address problems before they cause a loss event.
Conduct Third-Party Vendor Assessments
You can improve your security posture by evaluating the cybersecurity practices of your third-party partners and vendors (especially those who handle your sensitive data or deliver mission-critical services). Determine their weaknesses and the potential harm they could cause your company if a threat actor exploits them.
Define Metrics to Measure the Security Posture
Establish the appropriate metrics and service-level agreements (SLAs) to increase attack surface visibility and swiftly address vulnerabilities and risk issues. These measurements will show you where security controls might be strengthened and assist you in evaluating their efficacy.
What are Some Examples of Cybersecurity Posture?
Based on an enterprise’s approach and readiness to detect, respond, and prevent cybersecurity threats, here are some examples of cybersecurity posture:
Instead of taking steps to stop a data breach from happening in the first place, an organization with a reactive cybersecurity posture typically responds to a breach by taking action.
In order to identify and address cybersecurity risks and potential vulnerabilities before those weak spots are exploited, proactive organizations constantly carry out security assessments, penetration testing, and vulnerability scans.
To stop cyberattacks, organizations with a defensive cybersecurity posture put in place a range of protective measures, including firewalls, intrusion detection, antivirus, and access control and prevention systems.
Organizations in the military and government adopt an aggressive cybersecurity posture, actively identifying and countering possible threats.
Instead of adopting a comprehensive strategy for cybersecurity, organizations with a compliance cybersecurity posture concentrate on meeting regulatory requirements and standards, complying with pertinent legislation, and adhering to industry best practices.
Risk-based organizations believe in protecting their most important IT assets first, then adding additional security measures. Before making security decisions, they evaluate risks based on the possible consequences of a security breach.
The state of an organization’s networks, information, and systems’ security is based on the information security resources (such as personnel, equipment, software, and policies) and capabilities to manage the organization’s defense and respond as circumstances change.