The IT Security world continues to be a bit of a scary place. It’s not as though the sky is falling, at rSolutions we’re no Chicken-littles, but with increased media attention in the past several months and expanding surface area of threats on everything from smart watches to smart, or not so smart, TVs – the simple breadth and advancement of threats has many feeling like they are on their heels.
To some degree, in IT Security, it comes with the territory. You have to like the cloak and dagger, intense environment of security to survive, never mind perform, but lately it feels a little different. Stacy Collett, contributing writer with CSO online wrote on January 4th 2017, “According to this year’s data, global cybersecurity confidence fell six points over 2016 to earn an overall score of 70 percent — a ‘C-‘ on the report card.”
As referenced in her article, with over 700 professionals surveyed by Research firm CyberEdge Group and Tenable Network Security there is quantifiable statistical relevance to the claim. At rSolutions we’re seeing qualitative proof to support the hypothesis, that has come by way of a maturation of questions with respect to IT Security that we field as part of our daily business. On the upside, it shows us that industry professionals are increasing their body of knowledge. On the downside, it shows the threats are evolving quickly and from seemingly everywhere, which makes it hard for many to get a handle on meaningful priorities.
We’ve put together a list of the top seven things you should consider as you plan tackle IT Security in 2017.
1. Understand what you have– Knowing what you are protecting is a good portion of understanding vulnerability. By understanding everything that is accessing your network (we know it’s way easier said than done) you at least have a defined “territory” from which you can build your strategic plan or “map” to help navigate that territory.
2. Create a culture of security – One of the greatest threats to an organization is an end user who doesn’t understand the importance of vigilance in security. We have to create cultures of security and critical thinking when it comes to security. Your internal communications teams can help facilitate that with the assurance that you are doing the right thing for your organization.
3. Define your budget – Why isn’t this number one? It very well could be, but it seemed self-effacing to always have that at number one. The simple truth is that security teams need continual training and tools to perform, period. Outside of IT when other departments build solutions, there is likely a longer life-cycle on that business solution. In IT things cycle much quicker. The other departments and CEO might get tired of hearing you continually asking for more budget to properly feed your teams, but in all reality few other areas of the business are so vital to the business’s performance as secure IT infrastructure is.
4. Collaborate with peers – Within your group of trusted security professionals you have allies, leverage them and let them leverage you. You can talk about common challenges and your technology pairings that mitigate threats, without revealing your most internal of secrets. None of us can be omnipresent and know all things, but in our experience as a hub to both vendors and clients in IT Security, we continue to learn in-step with developing threats because we talk to people every day about the risks to their IT environments. The bad guys and gals collaborate continually, which is a big part of their success, if we want to rise to the challenge, we need to steal a page from their playbook.
5. Investigate new tools – There is always something new and shiny on the horizon. For 2017, the area of machine learning is likely one of the greatest growth areas for IT Security. Products that offer the ability to analyze networks, learn from them, detect inconsistencies and secure the business from hazards, might provide the business with insight sufficient enough to get ahead of them, finding and removing them before they can do harm. Like just about anything, early intervention is key. Having said that, rSolutions cautions that machine learning and artificial intelligence, although a powerful and step-change tool, it isn’t going to eliminate all threats forever.
6. Be mindful of the Internet of Things (IoT) – As our companies are hungry for Big Data to drive operational efficiency, it’s also important to understand that those same sensor networks that provide us with greater operational intelligence also provide a new risk to our networks. It’s a delicate balance that needs to be respected, at rSolutions we provide a full suite of Splunk licensing, professional service and managed services for Big Data Analytics, in fact we’re the only Splunk Elite partner in Canada, so we understand the business need for operational intelligence. At the same time, we also understand that all data is security relevant, as we were a security firm long before IoT was even a thing. So if you are in the race for IoT and Big Data, it’s important to understand that they can co-exist, but it’s fundamentally important that whoever you choose as a Big Data partner has the security acumen to keep you secure in the process.
7. Keep a watch on the evolution of threats – Ransomware will continue to be threat to business in 2017, which was a major consideration in why we bumped our “culture of security” to the number two spot on the list. How many times has it seemed so clear to us in security that an attempt was malicious and been initiated by someone who “didn’t know”. These threats will continue to get more sophisticated, it is now being sold as a service on the Dark Web, so it’s important to be alert going into the year ahead and that we start talking about it outside the IT silo.
Denial of Service attacks, where data is stolen or made otherwise inaccessible, are also on the rise. Leveraging our industry connections, as discussed in point four, helps us come to a greater understanding of these attacks, how they are changing and how together we can limit the chances of their success.
Data Integrity attacks aren’t new per se, but its definitely on the rise and incredibly difficult to detect. This breed of attack doesn’t block access, steal your data or extort you for access to your own data, but instead it alters your data without leaving many indications that anything even happened. Imagine the carnage that type of attack can do! Everything from client data, financial records to earnings reports if altered could mean drastic outcomes to your business. This type of attack is built solely for destruction and we can only assume the actors behind them hedge their bets against the businesses failure soon after these attacks are deployed as means of their compensation. The reality is that it could cripple companies, result in job losses and create an unbalanced marketplace.
At rSolutions we continually evolve and adapt to meet these threats and take pride in building trust with our clientele. We build that trust by continually training and advancing the best technology available in the marketplace today and invite you to our website to learn more or talk to us about your challenges for 2017.
Photo credits: istock, shutterstock