Preserving your organization’s information security can be like playing a game of chess with an opponent that gets smarter with every move.
If you want to win, you need to stay one step ahead of your opponent. You need to know what to expect. You need to predict what their next move could be. The only difference is that the stakes are much higher here. One misstep or one momentary lapse in attention can cost you the whole game.
And if you lose here, you may lose your entire business & reputation!
It’s a typical good-news-bad-news scenario. The good news is that with effective Continuous Security Monitoring (CSM), you can constantly monitor the threat landscape and prevent your data and systems from being exposed. The bad news, unfortunately, is that no matter how sophisticated your monitoring tools, systems, and processes are, the task won’t be easy since the nature of threats is constantly evolving, sometimes even faster than your ability to mitigate those threats.
This is why CSM is even more crucial for your organization than it seems at first glance. But, before we proceed further, let us first examine how CSM can be defined and what some of its key components are.
What is Continuous Security Monitoring (CSM)?
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines continuous security monitoring as “maintaining ongoing awareness of information security, vulnerabilities, and threats to support organizational risk management decisions.”
In simple terms, we may describe it as the uninterrupted monitoring of critical organizational assets, such as devices on your network, to detect and mitigate potential threats in real-time. In even simpler terms, it means that you need to be focussed on Detection controls, instead of just preventative controls.
You need to go out there to look for the threats rather than wait for the threats to come seeking you.
However, many organizations don’t realize that. And when they do, it’s usually too late. Hackers and cyber criminals are fully aware of this glaring shortcoming. And they’re leaving no stone unturned to exploit it. They are constantly in search of innovative ways to breach an organization’s prevention mechanisms. This is what makes the attacks even more devastating. Relying on a variety of attack vectors, these criminals are bigger threats than ever before. What’s even more surprising is that many of these sophisticated attacks simply go undetected unless severe damage is done.
This is why your organization must stop relying primarily on prevention mechanisms. Firewalls, anti-viruses, secure gateways, and intrusion prevention systems can only take you so far. If your organization thinks that it is fully capable of dealing with cyber threats through preventive mechanisms alone, you need to help them reconsider this stance. Continuous monitoring and threat detection mechanisms are some of the innovations you will need to implement.
Many organizations turn to Continuous Security Monitoring and a variety of other measures, such as tightening their compliance processes, after experiencing a major attack on their information system. The CSM process is specifically designed to prevent just that.
The key to understanding CSM lies in the term itself. It involves a Continuous stream of never-ending practices, designed to enhance Security involving constant Monitoring. You need to dedicate resources or staff to perform real-time inspections of not just the devices and the network, but also the implementation of the existing compliance processes to ensure maximum protection.
The difference between detection and prevention
Detection and prevention are, to some extent, similar mechanisms. The tools they require are similar and many Managed Security Services Providers (MSSPs) offer both. While prevention mechanisms are designed to block incoming threats, detection mechanisms are designed to locate and identify potential threats.
Simply put, if you want maximum security, you need to realize that you cannot prevent your organization from all cyber attacks. Even if you could, that would require considerably more resources than what you can assign for cybersecurity. That’s why it’s more realistic to assume that many threats would easily pass through your Prevention systems.
When it comes to threat detection, you must stay up to date with the current trends in the threat landscape. Gathering cyber intelligence is integral to the functioning of the whole process. If your organization does not have the capability of monitoring patterns of vulnerability across networks, there is always the option to seek assistance from managed security service providers (MSSPs).
It is imperative that your CSM practice should focus on behavior functionalities in terms of threat monitoring & response; it is important to keep questioning if you are you collecting correct logs from compute devices in bringing detailed visibility on In-Memory executions, are you a step ahead in identifying behavior anomalies over encrypted network, how good are you in identifying potential malicious behavior out of the files which are being downloaded by your business users, are you consistently keeping a tab on user & machine behavior, do you have strong incident response management enabled with automation, how assured are you today that there is no existing malicious activity within your business environment, are you engaged in proactive threat hunting, are you just focused on crown jewels or entire environment?
Maintaining the balance
Many industry analysts now claim that since the nature of the threats is too sophisticated to be prevented, detection must be your organization’s top priority. This is a dangerous trend. The latter approach is as flawed as the former. In order to ensure maximum security, there must be a balance between the two approaches. Detection and prevention should go hand-in-hand.
Gartner’s Neil MacDonald sums it up succinctly. “We overspend on increasingly ineffective prevention technologies — network and host based firewalls, intrusion prevention systems and antivirus technologies in a futile attempt to prevent all infections,” says Neil.
“Complete protection requires both investments in both prevention and detection. We have been too lopsided in our investments for too long.”
How MSSP/ MDRs Can Help
If you are aiming to run a successful business by cutting down on costs, increasing profitability, and being able to outrun your competition, all the while trying to survive in an increasingly dire economic situation, you may already have a lot on your plate. And we haven’t even begun to discuss how to ensure the highest levels of cybersecurity possible. It’s now understandable why companies choose to seek external services.
But if you are still unsure how exactly an MSSP or an MDR can add value to your organization, here’s the answer:
Cyber threat intelligence
If there’s one thing that can be claimed with certainty about the cyber landscape, it’s that everyone’s at risk. Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) repeatedly notes, “We don’t see any industries flying completely under the radar… everyone is vulnerable to some type of event.” Several companies, irrespective of their size and the nature of the business, seek the services of some of the leading MSSPs. Consequently, these security service providers have access to, and experience in monitoring a large number of networks on a 24/7 basis.
This enables the MSSPs to gather threat intelligence from a variety of sources on a huge scale. Their knowledge base, particularly on threats and potential vulnerabilities, is significantly vast. Maintaining that knowledge base is critical to navigating the cyber landscape and staying up-to-date with the nature of the threats. No other business organization, including large corporations, can dedicate these many resources to cyber intelligence gathering. Consequently, MSSPs can be an excellent value add for your business.
Managed Detection and Response Services
In the context of threat monitoring, one must keep questioning if you are you collecting correct logs from devices so there is detailed visibility on In-Memory executions. Are you a step ahead in identifying behavior anomalies over encrypted networks? How good are you in identifying potential malicious behavior out of the files which are being downloaded by your business users? Are you consistently keeping a tab on user and machine behavior?
Even for threat response, do you have strong incident response management enabled with automation? How assured are you today that there is no existing malicious activity within your business environment? Are you engaged in proactive threat hunting, are you just focused on crown jewels or entire environment?
These questions are worth considering, both in terms of current capabilities and future requierments, particularly when the threat landscape itself tends to evolve every day.
When it comes to CSM, the decision doesn’t hinge upon whether it’s important or not. Rather, you are required to choose whether to “build or buy.” Do you have enough resources to buy new tools, formulate new processes, and bolster the capabilities of your IT team? And, more importantly, would doing all that yield significantly better results than its alternative? This is where MSSPs step in.
Many managed security services providers have the requisite tools and capabilities to effectively monitor your network for threats. They also have a dedicated team of professional security experts and analysts. But, to top it all off, their services are affordable. Depending on the specific requirements of your organization, seeking assistance from a managed security services provider can be quite cost-effective.
MSSPs are better prepared to deal with organizations of all sizes. The scalability of the monitoring processes is one more thing you can tick off your worry list.
BluSapphire supports MSSPs and partners in delivering a comprehensive, agent less cybersecurity platform that covers both cybersecurity needs and business outcomes. Please visit our platform page to know more, or take a look at the partner program.