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Embrace technology to enhance security posture and bolster cyber defence

By Nemanja Krstić, Operations Manager - Managed Security Services at Galix

by Tia

Adequate security posture and resilient cyber defence strategies have become imperative for businesses of all sizes across all industries and verticals. The nature of cyber threats is constantly advancing and evolving, and the consequences of a successful breach could be catastrophic. It has become essential to keep up to date with emerging threats as well as emerging defence technologies and best practice frameworks. This includes adaptive multifactor authentication methods and advanced access management, security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR), and the need to implement a security operations centre (SOC), amongst others.

Reshaping authentication methods

Nemanja Krstić

One area that has seen significant evolution is authentication and access control. It has become essential for organisations to ensure that only the right people have access to systems and data, but doing this in a way that is both secure and does not negatively impact the user experience is a fine balancing act. Two-factor authentication (2FA) is frequently replaced with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), which includes some form of biometric component and authentication apps on mobile devices for additional layers of security. However, overly complex passwords and frequent changes can lead to user non-compliance, undermining security objectives.

While multiple security layers are essential in preventing bad actors from gaining unauthorised access, the goal is to make this as seamless as possible for users. Authentication has thus evolved to become hybrid and more adaptive. Single sign-on (SSO) has become a standard for many businesses, allowing users to enter their login credentials just once and then access a range of trusted Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. Contextual adaptive authentication can also be put into place, so that if users are accessing applications and networks from a trusted location and a trusted IP address, fewer authentication layers are required, but if they change networks, then additional steps are implemented. This can also help to detect anomalies and prevent suspicious logins from getting hold of sensitive information.

Managing identities to manage access

These contextual and adaptive solutions also assist in fortifying cybersecurity posture by providing the foundation for enhanced identity management. With contextual controls in place, it is possible to see system information such as IP and MAC addresses, devices, and the location of the connection, all of which contribute to ensuring that people who are connecting to networks are who they say they are. Adding MFA and SSO on top of this helps to ensure that users are authorised, but it is essential to also ensure that they only have access to the applications and data they need.

Once people are inside the network, organisations need to ensure they have least privileged access in place, essentially restricting users to the minimum data and systems they need to perform their job. This is another layer of best practice zero trust architecture; it has become necessary to start from zero and then only add on permissions as they are required to lock down security as much as possible. It is also vital to have monitoring solutions in place to see what people are doing once they are inside and flag activities that fall outside of their permissions and access.

Have a plan and stick to it

The goal is to become more proactive about security, to prevent unauthorised access and unauthorised behaviours, which in turn helps to prevent data leaks. Part of this proactive approach is the utilisation of the SOAR framework alongside SOCs to detect and address incidents effectively. SOAR effectively gives organisations a playbook on how to manage incidents, outlining the steps that need to be taken and automating some of the activities. This ensures a swift response so that any potential breaches can be locked down and systems can be recovered in the shortest possible time frame.

The presence of SOAR and the automation and orchestration components it brings to the table, can then be further supported by a SOC, which is a response service or a tool that gives organisations a dedicated team 24/7 to raise flags and remediate events when alerts are triggered. This ensures constant monitoring so that a rapid response can be assured. It also provides a detailed log of what happened and where, which helps organisations find ways to improve and is important for both auditing and compliance purposes.

Call in the experts

Cybersecurity is critical for any business today, but it is also a highly specialised skill and a field that is constantly evolving. A managed security service provider ensures organisations have access to the expert resources they need, with constantly updated skill sets, in a cost-effective way. They will assist with security posture assessments, and identifying areas for improvement, understanding the environment, the risk appetite, technical requirements, and ensuring compliance with applicable regulations.

Cybersecurity should be a collaborative relationship between the service provider and the business to ensure the provider can become an extension of an enterprise’s security team. It is also important for a provider to align with globally recognised standards and frameworks so that they can align with them and be held accountable to them.

Effective cybersecurity has never been more important, and organisations today need to have adaptive and contextually aware solutions that offer the right balance of access control and security without completely stalling the user from being able to do their job. The right service provider will assist in achieving this goal and in implementing proactive security and response to ensure that incidents can be detected and mitigated rapidly, and organisations can get back to business as usual.

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