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Today, cyber-attacks are a growing concern for many businesses, organizations, institutions, and everybody who uses the internet to provide or get services. As criminals devise new ways to compromise the traditional and modern security solutions, it is becoming more challenging protecting web and network systems.
With the increased use of online systems, devices, and user touchpoints, the attack surface has grown tremendously. Further, vulnerabilities are increasing as manufacturers and developers release products such as hardware, software, applications, and services much faster than before. In most cases, some providers ignore or fail to perform exhaustive security tests on the products. Criminals are on the other hand advancing their attack methods which usually exploit vulnerabilities in the hardware and software systems.
The attacks are evolving and getting more complex in such a way that most security systems cannot detect them. Sometimes, the attacks may appear as genuine activities and hence making it difficult for the security solutions to flag them.
Organizations are experiencing challenges securing their network and web systems due to,
• Evolving and complex cyber vulnerabilities and attacks
• Increased threats
• Inadequate security budgets
• Lack of skills and security experts
• Increased data volumes and traffic
• Lack of adequate tools and technologies to provide improved data and network visibility
Despite the challenges, organizations are still finding ways to protect their assets using a combination of various security tools and practices.
Below are some of the trends in cybersecurity.
Today’s networks and internet systems are complex, and growing at a fast rate. As they continue to grow bigger, some tasks such as monitoring the network performance and traffic as well as updating the operating systems, applications and security systems can be a challenge. It is even more difficult when this is manual and especially due to sophisticated attacks which happen so fast.
To address this, automating most of the security operations can help to keep up with the pace and provide faster means of identifying defects as early as possible. This includes analyzing a wide range of network metrics to identify and investigate abnormal activities. For example, it is necessary to automatically monitor and analyze network traffic. If there are cases of increased traffic, the tools should alert the security teams to investigate further and find out it is a DDoS or another attack.
With increasing cyber threats and attacks, demand for security products and offshore software testing services has increased. However, the shortage of adequate skills and experts is still a challenge. Automation can assist in filling the skills gap by performing most of the repetitive tasks. It also increases the speed of detecting and responding to attacks since it can be programmed to shut off affected sections or networks before the threat spreads to other areas.
Unlike the traditional practice of securing on-premise network infrastructure, today’s landscape is different as most companies are deploying cloud-based or hybrid systems. This requires a different approach, especially when staff is allowed to access corporate networks using their own devices from anywhere in the world.
With increased use and reliance on the internet, web applications, cloud, mobile computing, and emerging technologies such as IoT, organizations are changing their security strategies. As the number of connected devices and services expand, so is the attack surface and vulnerabilities.
Most often, addressing today’s risks require more than the traditional security solutions that provided perimeter protection for IT infrastructures. In particular, the attack methods have continued to evolve and are more sophisticated. This allows bad traffic or compromised code to pass through the traditional security tools undetected.
There is also a wide range of risks when employees use mobile devices to access corporate networks. These range from compromised, lost or stolen devices, uncontrolled apps installations, and other security risks.
In addition to accessing the network through the stolen phones or devices, attackers can also break into the weak mobile networks and gain access to the protected corporate network.
However, using effective protection at the right places, enforcing security policies, using multi-factor authentication and limiting user access to only what they require to perform their duties can reduce the risks significantly. Organizations are also deploying monitoring solutions to see how people are using the systems as well as logs of detected threats, login attempts and more.
Today, it is critical to install the cybersecurity tools everywhere. This includes the networks, hosts, clients, on-premise and cloud systems. Traditional security solutions such as antivirus alone are not enough and organizations need to invest in other intelligent solutions and practices to protect the systems and endpoints.
With increasing attack surface and vulnerabilities, organizations need to deploy up to date security solutions. Cybercriminals are increasingly taking advantage of vulnerabilities and security flaws in the hardware and software systems. As such, it is critical to ensure that the operating systems, applications, security tools, browsers, plugins, hardware firmware, and software have the latest updates and patches.
Some of the measures organizations are taking to protect users of their systems are to encourage and enforce more strict access rules such as multifactor authentication. For example, when accessing an online banking system, a user is required to use the second form of authentication in addition to the usual password. In such as setup, a code is sent to a second authentication device such as mobile phone number that the user has in possession. This prevents criminals from accessing the account with just a password stolen or through brute force attacks.
A typical two-factor authentication involves a user providing something that they know such as a password and a second factor which they have in possession physically. Typical methods include using security token sent to a physical device such as a text message sent to the user’s phone number.
Hardening networks and web applications
Developers are also hardening applications and building secure code. This makes it harder to penetrate the systems. Also, the organizations are protecting their data during transmission, in storage and when in use and storage. One of the practices is to encrypt communication channels as well as data in storage. Also, using HTTPs headers ensures that only trusted traffic gains access to the website and web applications.
Organizations and especially the security solutions providers are using artificial intelligence and machine learning to detect and identify patterns that are likely to lead attacks. Also, these technologies can analyze systems to identify vulnerabilities and other areas that criminals can exploit. Unfortunately, the criminals also have access to these technologies and can as well use them to compromise systems.
With increasing data volumes and need to analyze them, AI and ML provide the best option to also detect patterns, data anomalies and other indication of cyber-attacks. But for them to work, security experts must ensure that the intelligence algorithms and reference data are clean and not compromised.
Educating the staff members on the safe use of the online and network service goes is a major step towards minimizing the breaches due to internal threats. Although most attacks are usually external, others result from internal compromises. These can present much worse damage because the employees have access to more data than an outsider.
For these reasons, there is a need to create awareness of security threats and risks the organizations are facing, as well as practices to stay safe. Usually, there are both internal threats and human errors that contribute to compromises.
Among the precautions staff and users need to take include use using strong passwords, avoiding to open or click suspicious emails, attachments and links and more. Security professions should also enlighten the users on how to identify phishing email and tricks that criminals use as well as the web.
Organizations are establishing policies that define and control how users access services. Security professionals then need to enforce these controls to ensure the security of the systems. Also, security continues to become a responsibility of everyone. Even with good security solutions, the users must be very careful about how they use the systems.
In addition to protecting systems from external attacks, organizations need to deploy adequate security against the internal threats from employees. Ideally, staff should have access to only what they require and there should be adequate monitoring and audit systems to see who has risky behaviors as well as tracking those who modify files or performs actions that increase the potential of attacks.
Also, there should be a means of identifying employees who misuse their rights, and revoking them whenever necessary.
Some of the trending practices include securing the networks, communications channels, storage, and applications. Also, developers and security professional are hardening the systems, applications and data systems to prevent both internal and external threats.
To be on the safer side, organizations need to establish effective backup and disaster recovery solutions to prevent data loss in case of a breach or compromise.