It’s that time of year again. Time for the wave of posts that discuss the trends and events that shaped the year that was and that will shape the year ahead.
In our recent post, we discussed the findings from Ponemon Institute’s 2018 study, Closing the Cloud Security Gap. But as we continue in the early months of 2019, we have to assess how those findings from 2017 impacted security performance this past year—and figure out how to adapt moving forward.
As cloud migrations consume IT resources and attention, it’s easy to focus solely on the security threats and missteps that emerge when moving off premises. However, having a narrow focus on the cloud can actually hurt your cybersecurity effectiveness in 2019.
While cloud security is certainly important, there are three broader mistakes we’ve seen throughout 2018 that every organization should address in 2019. Don’t fall victim to a breach because of these common pitfalls.
1. Over-Focusing on Incident Prevention
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that cybersecurity is all about tech solutions. Outfitting your network with next-gen firewalls, intrusion detection systems, intrusion prevention systems, data leakage prevention systems, and more can make it seem like you’re safe from any threat.
However, attackers find ways to circumvent these security appliances every day. And more and more, we’re seeing that companies just aren’t prepared to respond when prevention falls short.
In fact, 77% of IT leaders say their companies operate without formal incident response plans. This stat is especially alarming in the context of some of the Ponemon Institute findings. With 78% of IT leaders reporting a lack of visibility into cloud application usage and 47% of business users admitting they use cloud applications with IT permission, even the most sophisticated prevention systems can fall short.
The need for more formal incident response planning transcends cloud security concerns. As hybrid IT becomes the norm and your workloads exist across on-premises, public cloud, and private cloud infrastructure, prepare for the worst-case scenario by creating detailed steps for recovery from breaches and attacks.
2. Misunderstanding Security Accountability
Every security pro remembers the massive Target data breach from 2013. But one detail from the incident that often slips through the cracks is that attackers gained access to Target’s network via a third-party HVAC vendor.
This kind of mismanagement of third-party vendors is a major problem for enterprise cybersecurity. When you work with a third-party provider, you want to trust them and hold them accountable for the security of your data. However, it’s important not to completely offload responsibility for security when working with external partners.
Accountability is especially important when working with cloud providers. One of the greatest benefits of cloud migration is that you don’t have to take ownership of on-premises infrastructure. But that doesn’t mean you can take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to data in the cloud.
In our post about the Ponemon Institute report, we mentioned that 50% of respondents had experienced a data breach due to a cloud provider. Just because the cloud provider has enterprise-grade security for infrastructure components doesn’t mean you can ignore your own responsibilities for access control and data encryption.
Regardless of the technology you’ve invested in or the reputation of a vendor you’re working with, make sure to remain accountable for all data security in 2019.
3. Failing to Create a Culture of Security
Despite all the headlines about emerging attack vectors—new malware, ransomware variations, zero-day threats, etc.—human error continues to rate as the root cause of most cyber attacks.
One Willis Towers Watson report found that employees cause 66% of all security incidents. And so, whether you’re taking most of your workloads to the cloud or you’re persisting with on-premises infrastructure, creating a culture of security should be a top priority.
When security awareness isn’t baked into the fabric of your organization, even something as basic as password policies can become problematic. The amount of businesses we see that still use default passwords across many systems and machines is always surprising. Basic passwords give attackers low-hanging fruit for launching serious data breaches. It seems obvious, but having employees buy into stronger password policies can go a long way to preventing attacks.
But it’s not just about passwords. The need for greater security awareness extends to attacks that rely on phishing schemes and social engineering. One mis-click on a malicious link in an email can give attackers complete access to your infrastructure.
Whether employees are using traditional applications or working with new, cloud-based systems, you want to maximize their security awareness. They’re the front line of your business and the largest attack surface for threats to compromise.
Staying Ahead of Security Threats—Both Old and New
One of the biggest challenges for IT leaders in 2019 is the fact that emerging security trends don’t replace old ones—they compound them.
Mistakes like mismanaging third-party vendors, failing to enforce password policies, and overlooking incident response planning aren’t new. They’ve been causing security incidents for years. But when something new like cloud storage misconfiguration comes along and further complicates security, many teams lose sight of the basics.
This is why managed security service providers (MSSPs) are becoming so valuable for organizations of all sizes. There’s no longer any doubt that cybersecurity is more than a full-time job. Even if you have a full team dedicated to protecting the organization, the never-ending cycle of threats and vulnerabilities can quickly exhaust your resources.
Rather than cutting corners and putting your sensitive data at risk, working with an MSSP can ensure your systems and data are protected from all angles. The only problem is finding a partner you can trust.
We’d love to help you solve all of your pressing security challenges. Contact us today and find out how we can fill in all the gaps of your cybersecurity strategy.