Cybersecurity Posture

Christopher Eaton | March 10th, 2022

 

Our current global reality unfortunately includes a nuclear-equipped nation aggressively pursuing war—both on a battlefield with munition and in the cloud with countless cyberattacks threatening companies’ cybersecurity posture. As the desperation and hostility of threat actors—particularly state-sponsored threat actors—increases, the lengths they are willing to go to create damage against perceived enemies and their critical infrastructure also increases.

An alert from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which is closely monitoring the ground and cloud activity related to the Ukraine-Russia war, warned about the vulnerability of overlapping cyber and physical security attack surfaces. CISA notes, “Efforts to build cyber resilience and accelerate the adoption of advanced technologies can also introduce or exacerbate security risks in this evolving threat landscape. A successful cyber or physical attack on connected industrial control systems and networks can disrupt operations or even deny critical services to society.” The obscuring of security-related lines also assures that allies of the targeted will become targets themselves.

Specifically in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, violent military action was pre-empted by aggressive cyberattacks. Before Russian troops breached the Ukrainian border, several malware variants were executed against various government and critical infrastructure operations: WhisperGate and HermeticWiper are two examples of data-wiping malware launched to cripple systems in Ukraine and before physical engagement. With the digital landscape continuing to shrink our distance from global threats, we must remain more aware than ever of our cyber security posture.

As business and community leaders, it’s crucial to model for and encourage colleagues, employees, partners, and fellow leaders to engage in best security practices that update (or if you’re behind, integrate) tight access controls to minimize the risk of your environment becoming the latest target of threat actors and maintain optimal cybersecurity posture.

Best Practices for Optimal Cybersecurity Posture

  • Enable and require multi-factor authentication (MFA or 2FA) for anyone to access your network. This security measure requires a layer of identity confirmation through a mobile application or biometric data, which a cyber threat actor does not possess.
  • Build your incident response (IR) plan to defend against threat operators targeting your sensitive data. A thorough IR plan installs the proper systems, resources, and communication channels so your team, not the threat actors, is in control in the event of a data breach.
  • Partner with a 24/7 Security Operations Center to ensure a robust system of threat detection. Most cyberattacks occur on nights and weekends when most security teams are out of the office; working with a 24/7 SOC guarantees your environment is always being monitored for malicious activity.
  • Establish controlled access to business-critical data. Data access should be limited to those who ‘need to know’ and even still require additional security measures to view and utilize.
  • Install strong spam filters and train employees, and anyone with a network-based email account, to spot and repel phishing and social engineering attacks. An overwhelming percentage of data breaches begin with human error and/or email compromise.
  • Securely backup all data. Any data critical to day-to-day operations and containing sensitive information, including IP and PII, should be stored in an off-site location that is disconnected from the main network. Systems for backing up data (and testing these systems) should be tested frequently.
  • Stay current with the threat landscape, which includes implementing the most up-to-date security patches, retiring legacy systems and toolsets, and staying informed of the latest tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) utilized by threat actors.

If you’re a leader in your organization, imagine what the ramifications would be if people outside your business could access and read company emails. Going through your response process with a security firm and legal team will help you stop persistent threats. This won’t be the last time the world is embroiled in cyber and physical warfare. Be prepared to act.

All it takes is one exposed vulnerability to ignite a mass scan by threat actors. Security firms are essential in protection because they have dedicated teams analyzing and unpacking malware to understand how it operates and what the threat actors are trying to accomplish. So, when the next large-scale attack happens, think about how your organization is approaching company security and maintain optimal cybersecurity posture.

A continuous 24/7 investigation cycle provides the most impactful action when responding to state-sponsored threats. Understanding their motives, tactics, techniques, and procedures is the only way to be able to stop them and assist companies in optimizing their overall cybersecurity posture.

It’s not your average cybercriminal on the other side of these attacks. It’s a highly sophisticated team of threat actors with malicious intent and the ability to thwart almost all of your general security tools. You need to match that expertise in your proactive defense in order to stop threats from doing damage to your organization and outmaneuver your adversary.

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