Cybersecurity Controls are vital because hackers continually invent new ways to execute attacks. Organizations must implement the most effective security measures to increase their security. A holistic approach involves adhering to international standards and complying with different regulations.
Cybersecurity controls are countermeasures companies use to prevent, reduce, and counteract security threats. These are measures that a company uses to protect its networks and computer systems from cyberattacks. To adapt to changing cyber environments, controls must be constantly updated. Every organization must understand how to best address their security concerns. To ensure effectiveness, however, it is important to first understand the controls.
This guideline will help businesses establish appropriate cybersecurity controls
1. The organization’s size is important.
The first thing to do is assess the size of your organization. It is important to review details about interconnected systems, employee numbers and network size. The size of an organization can help with financial planning decisions. This assessment will help you identify the controls that need to be put in place to address existing problems.
2. Determine the extent of IT infrastructure
It is essential that a company identifies the IT components that fall within the cybersecurity control scope. All IT components, no matter how they are owned or contracted, must be considered to ensure adequate controls are implemented. This includes applications, information systems and network devices. Servers, cloud applications, and other IT infrastructure. A company could be guided by an assessment to identify all assets that fall within the cybersecurity control scope.
3. Determine the security level of IT assets and information system
Companies must be able to identify IT systems and IT components that require higher levels of security. They must also be able assign value to different types of information and assets. Higher levels of protection might be required for personally identifiable information such as employees and customers. In order to prevent possible breaches, it is important that confidential information like intellectual property or competition strategies be protected. Security levels should be assessed in terms of integrity, availability, confidentiality, and privacy of critical IT systems and information.
Organizations can use a scale from very low to medium security level, high to high, depending on their needs, to distribute cybersecurity controls. This allows for budget planning and efficiency, as well as ensuring security issues are mitigated efficiently. You can allocate more funds to areas that require greater control.
4. Secure investments
Security professionals and security managers should verify cybersecurity investment levels before planning for the acquisition or implementation of cybersecurity controls. This can be done by determining the amount of IT security and data protection expenditures. A company must also consider financial costs when evaluating intangible controls like training employees.
8 Essential Security Controls
This section will help organizations understand the controls that are used to reduce cybersecurity risks and prevent data breaches. These controls address attempted cybercrimes and prevent them from recurring. Every business should be prepared for a cyber-attack. These controls establish the mechanisms to detect, respond, and recover from cyber incidents.
1. Keep a complete plan for responding to any incidences
Hacking and other penetration techniques have reached unprecedented levels. Cyber adversaries can use available technology, such as artificial intelligence, to commit cybercrimes stealthily. Businesses should be prepared for attempted intrusions at all times. Every organization should have a plan in place for dealing with cyber incidents. It should include measures to recover from an attack.
Companies should therefore consider security information management systems to help them actively detect, respond and monitor security threats. These systems enable security teams to track all activity at the network or system level. Security teams should also be given responsibilities by organizations. Everyone should be aware of their roles in responding to cybersecurity incidents.
However, companies should designate individuals who are legally obligated to report attempted breaches. Not only does it protect the company from being sued for failure to report an incident but reporting also invites forensic professionals to create a solid response plan.
Businesses that are unable to manage cybersecurity incidents should have a plan in place for the engagement of external professionals. It should also include information about the personnel who were fired to help with the response, as well as strategies for allocating the resources. This is done to ensure smooth operations between the organization’s staff and external assistance.
2. Lifecycle of patch management
Every business today depends on technology to achieve its goals. Many organizations are so dependent on IT support that it would be a loss. Companies often use different technologies from different vendors. This gives criminals more entry points. Some items, whether they are hardware or software, could also have security flaws. Hackers often exploit these vulnerabilities to gain system access and execute attacks. An organization must follow a strict patch management cycle.
Software and firmware patches are often released by most vendors. This is done to fix security flaws and new vulnerabilities. Businesses should install patches as soon as they are released by vendors. It is important to install patches promptly in order to prevent zero-day attacks by hackers who exploit vulnerabilities before vendors notice them.
The scope of an organization’s IT infrastructure will determine the patch management method. It can be costly and difficult for large organizations to keep track of all vulnerabilities in devices distributed across their network. Companies can take effective measures to reduce risks. An automated patch management system, for example, can be used to identify potential vulnerabilities and provide patches for them. Smaller organizations should also apply automatic updates to all software products. Software systems automatically install the latest updates as soon they are available.
3. Antivirus solutions are available
Anti virus solutions are one of the most common security measures. Virtually all operating systems have antivirus software installed. Antivirus products such as Malwarebytes or McAfee provide enough protection to detect and eliminate malware threats. System users are tricked by cyber-criminals into installing various malware families including spyware and ransomware. All programs that are designed to damage a system can be classified under one of these malware families.
An effective antivirus product can stop hackers from executing malicious code once an organization has implemented it. Antiviruses constantly scan the system for malicious programs and remove them before they cause damage. To ensure that the security software is up-to-date, businesses must install all updates. Every day, cybercriminals release new malware. By rolling out updates, antivirus solutions can be assured that they are able to protect the system.
4. Implement perimeter defense
Organizations can use perimeter defenses to defend their networks against attacks via the internet. Firewalls are the traditional network security controls. Firewalls are used to identify and block suspicious traffic from entering a network. Firewalls protect a network against external intrusions that compromise network security. Businesses should install dedicated firewalls at the borders connecting their corporate network to the Internet in order to counter online threats. You can use both software and hardware solutions to create firewalls.
Businesses should also ensure that firewalls are correctly configured and activated within their operating systems. Configuration metrics are both applications that can access corporate networks and those that are restricted to private networks. Alternately, if the firewall available seems insufficient compared to the security environment, the business can opt to install alternative firewalls.
Domain Name System (DNS), however, gives organizations the ability to block malicious domains from connecting their networks. DNS solutions protect all devices that are connected to the corporate network. DNS firewall solutions are more effective in filtering content and allow network administrators to limit access to malicious websites.
Secure connectivity is another important perimeter defense. Secure connectivity is essential for any company that uses online services. Virtual private networks (VPNs) are an option for businesses that allow remote workers. VPNs conceal all user activity online so that hackers cannot execute sniffing attacks. VPNs are able to protect companies from insecure networks that allow for attacks.
A perimeter defense includes seperating public Wi-Fi from corporate networks. Many organizations offer public Wi-Fi to employees and customers. This is often insecure. It is important to separate it from the corporate network so that malicious individuals can’t use it to compromise security. Companies must guard confidential information in corporate networks from unauthorized access.
Businesses with points of sale should adhere to the PCI DSS standards. These standards provide guidelines for how to secure credit card information belonging customers. The standards also allow organizations to protect their online financial systems and PoS terminals from hackers. A company can, among other things, isolate PoS terminals and prevent them from being accessed by corporate networks.
5. Secure mobile devices
Organizations can use the Internet of Things and mobile phones to improve their work processes and productivity. Many organizations have adopted them on large-scale. Either the companies own them or have policies that allow employees access to their devices. In either case, businesses must have appropriate safeguards in place to protect company data transmitted or received through the devices.
It is essential to separate sensitive company data and personal data. Employees must be provided with work accounts, such as email addresses and customized applications. Employees can also use locker functions or secure folders to help protect their organizational information and achieve information security. A company must ensure isolation is balanced between its business and security needs. Encryption can be used to share information and communicate with employees.
Mobile devices are also used by organizations because of the availability of simple apps that can complete complex tasks. Each application has its own set of risks. This increases the risk and danger surface. To minimize the risk, employees should only install apps from trusted sources. Users may download malware-laden apps from third-party websites by reverse engineering.
Organizations with complex IT processes should also consider using solutions that facilitate mobile device administration. Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM), is one example. Using EMMS, businesses can achieve enhanced business features while centrally managing mobile devices. Although EMM solutions can have different features, they all provide functions that support the management, auditing and support of mobile devices. Some capabilities include remote wipe of data from stolen or compromised devices.
Cyber actors could also launch attacks using mobile connectivity to organizational devices. Companies should have policies in place to prevent users from enabling automatic connectivity. Open networks are used by hackers to lure users and install malware once they connect. Businesses should also restrict near-field communication protocols like Bluetooth. These networks can be easily compromised by cybercriminals; employees should not share sensitive information through them.
6. Employee training and awareness should be emphasized
Organizations can be protected from catastrophic attacks by educating employees about cybersecurity basics. This is a critical control because attackers can use system user ignorance in order to execute attacks. Phishing attacks’ success is dependent on the user’s inability to recognize phishing emails . Since employees have the ability to improve their security posture, security training is the first line defense. Businesses should concentrate on easy-to-implement measures like the ones listed below in order to implement a training and awareness program that is efficient.
- Purchase and use of software programs approved by legitimate vendors
- Effective password management policies that include secure storage, creation, and sharing
- Capability to detect malicious attachments and links in spear-phishing emails
- Proper internet usage is important, and this includes the list of websites you should avoid when connecting to the company network
- Use social media to protect yourself from attacks using angler phishing.
- Security configurations
Products are created by IT vendors using default configurations. Most software and hardware products are sold with default settings. Enterprises have a serious security problem with default configurations. They lack sufficient security configurations to prevent attacks. Software developers use the same default passwords for all products, for example. Attackers can quickly guess default configurations which makes it easier to hack and intrude.
Companies should therefore ensure that they replace default configurations with safer ones. Different businesses have different security requirements, so the settings implemented may not meet all of their security expectations. Administrator passwords should be secured and all applications must be protected using strong and difficult-to-guess passwords. A business must also review its device settings to remove any defaults that may be unsecure. Unneeded functions must be disabled and security measures must be enabled.
7. Power user authentications should be implemented
Insider Threats is a leading cause of security incidents in organizations. These threats are caused by employees aiding hackers to achieve their malicious intent, or users who commit cybercrimes for their benefit. These are malicious users who may gain login credentials from other users and then use those accounts to commit cybercrimes. This is done to hide their tracks and blame innocent employees. Implementing strong authentications for users is an effective way to reduce insider threats.
User authentications allow you to verify the legitimacy of an account user. To authenticate a user, he must provide correct information including usernames, passwords, and other pertinent details. Implementing multi-factor and two-factor authentication is one way to ensure strong user authentication. These strategies require that users provide a combination or authenticators. The combination must contain a username, password, and a token or code. Multi-factor authentication adds security as a user must present a token or code that is generated automatically when a login session is initiated.
Secure critical systems with strong passwords is a good way to authenticate users. To prevent passwords from falling into the wrong hands, system administrators must regularly change passwords. While some security protocols require administrators to change passwords immediately in the event of an attempted security incident, it is better to keep to a regular password management program. Password management policies must consider factors such as password length and reusability.
8. Respect strict access controls
Access control measures are based on user authentication. Access control is a set of strategies that organizations use to authenticate users to access IT resources. Access controls have one primary function. They determine who can access what resource and at which level. There are many security measures available, so it is up to the company to decide which one best suits its needs.
Role-based access control is one example. This strategy allows companies to grant access to users based on their roles. A user in marketing cannot access financial resources that are reserved for finance users. Role-based access is a way for network administrators to monitor user activity and identify security incidents.
An organization can also use a least-privilege access control to safeguard sensitive resources from unauthorised control. Users have access to the resources they require to complete different tasks with least-privilege access. A CEO, for example, has more access than a manager in a department. It prevents unauthorized access and has other benefits, such as reducing resource wastage.
Furthermore, restricting administrative account access increases security as it prevents unauthorized users making system changes. Only system administrators should have access to administrative accounts in companies. The accounts should be restricted to administrative functions only. Employees will be less likely to use the accounts for other purposes than administrative tasks if they are restricted at user level. Businesses should also provide their employees with their own accounts.