No matter what industry you’re in, the chances of experiencing a data breach are high. This notion is supported by Verizon's 2018 Data Breach Investigation Report which confirms that data breaches are on the rise.
So why is this happening?
This can be attributed to IT professionals only thinking of securing endpoints after they’ve experienced an intrusion. Another reason is limited resources like IT staffing budgets.
For example, if you don’t have enough IT professionals onboard, manually patching all endpoints can quickly become overwhelming. I mean think about it, there will be hundreds or even thousands of PCs, phones, tablets, and other smart devices on the network. So locking them down one by one will not only be tedious, but also time intensive.
As companies embrace Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) initiatives and the Internet of Things (IoT), IT teams will also face a large number of endpoints that need to be considered and monitored in real-time.
So it’s safe to say that this is going to be a significant challenge going forward. However, while it can be difficult to stay a step ahead of bad actors, there are steps you can take to keep your network safe.
1. Use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to Protect Your Network
Let’s face it, hackers are going to use AI and ML to breach your network. This will accelerate the threat level and make it impossible for humans to keep up in real-time.
This makes it important for businesses to analyze traffic around the clock to identify and rectify any potential threats by leveraging both AI and ML technologies.
However, this doesn’t mean that humans will be eliminated from this whole process. Rather, technology professionals will have more time to address more pressing IT needs.
2. Implement Automated Patching Software
As manually patching everything can be very tedious and resource intensive, enterprises should take advantage of automated patching software. With an automated approach to patching, the only human intervention required will be the initiation of the patch configuration policy.
However, to take advantage of automated patching software, you have to work off cloud-based architecture. So if you’re still working with an on-premise solution, adopting the cloud will be a great option that’s fast and highly cost-effective.
If your organization has a BYOD program, it will be critical to develop employee guidelines to ensure network security. Since it’s difficult to ensure that personal devices have been patched, it might also be a good idea to limit access to the network.
When it comes to IoT, it’s better to manage smart devices on a separate network. This is because IoT devices and sensors usually come with bespoke operating systems that can make managing multiple endpoints a nightmare. In this particular scenario, automating patches won’t always be an option.
3. Employ a Layered Protection Approach
In recent years, we have also come across malware that resides entirely in RAM. While it’s never written to disk, it’s capable of initiating fileless attacks.
This method is becoming increasingly popular, so enterprises need to rapidly implement layered defenses to respond to this threat.
To get the most out of the layered protection approach, it’s best to combine it with both AI and ML. This is because the tools available in the market today have been known to generate false positives (that can eat into your precious IT resources).
4. Create an Incident Response Team
No matter what you do to keep your IT infrastructure secure, you’re still going to be vulnerable to a potential breach. So if you have a healthy IT budget, set up an incident response team to deal with the aftermath of a breach.
This means limiting the damage caused by the breach to recover costs and ensure business continuity. The incident response team should be comprised of the following technology professionals:
- Cybersecurity experts (to assess the situation and mitigate any further damage)
- Cybersecurity threat researchers (to analyze both present and past attacks)
- Team manager (to delegate and prioritize tasks)
The team should always work proactively to detect vulnerabilities on the network and identify abnormal behavior. They will also need to follow best practices when it comes to responding to a security event and dealing with its aftermath.
The key takeaway here is that businesses can’t afford any downtime or a negative impact on their brand reputation, so endpoint security can no longer be an afterthought.