by Kartik Shahani, Country Manager, Tenable India
Cybersecurity Awareness Month underscores the critical need for organizations to take proactive measures to safeguard their digital assets against ever-evolving cyber threats. It is concerning that threat actors persist in exploiting known vulnerabilities that organizations have not effectively patched or remediated.
According to the 2023 IBM Cost of Data Breach Report, the average financial toll of a data breach in India has surged to a staggering $3 million. This emphazises the imperative for increased cybersecurity vigilance and investment.
A commissioned study conducted in 2023 by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Tenable revealed that six in 10 respondents (64%) concur that their cybersecurity teams are too busy fighting critical incidents, leaving them little time to adopt a proactive approach to reducing their organization’s cyber risk.
These findings illuminate several key hurdles that obstruct the path toward preventive cybersecurity measures. From the challenges of attaining a full spectrum of visibility across the intricate and ever-evolving attack surface to the misalignment between IT and security teams, there exist numerous impediments that weigh down efforts to proactively enhance cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity Awareness Month: When IT Complexity Becomes Complicated
Many organizations are now heavily dependent on multiple cloud systems, a multitude of identity and privilege management tools, and numerous web-facing assets. This growing complexity introduces an elevated risk of misconfigurations and neglected assets, which can easily evade detection. Such oversight may occur due to a lack of awareness regarding the presence of these assets or because organizations tend to assign privileges to users based on a principle of trust.
Addressing areas of risk requires not only visibility across the attack surface but also the ability to effectively analyse findings with the right context. The same Forrester Consulting study reveals that while most respondents in India (78%) say they consider user identity and access privileges when they prioritize vulnerabilities for remediation, more than half (64%) say their organization lacks an effective way of integrating such data into their preventive cybersecurity and exposure management practices.
Adding to this complexity, internal processes that lack a dedicated cybersecurity focus inadvertently generate conflicts that could be avoided.
An illustrative statistic from the Forrester Consulting study is the revelation that a substantial 71% of IT and security professionals perceive that IT teams prioritize uptime over patching and remediation efforts.
These multifaceted challenges collectively create formidable barriers for organizations in their quest to embrace a preventative approach to security.
Creating a Cybersecurity-first Culture
Cybersecurity risks relegating itself to the shadows unless organizations actively elevate its status to a top-tier priority across all essential hierarchies, spanning from the C-suite to IT and security teams.
The rapid pace of IT innovation frequently pushes security to the sidelines, as IT teams focus on delivering solutions quickly. It’s high time for organisations to reconsider how they gauge the performance of both IT and cybersecurity teams, marking a crucial stride toward aligning their objectives to ensure unity in purpose.
Deriving the Right Context
One of the most important aspects of preventative security is deriving the right context from mountains of data — organizations must seek to aggregate and analyze disparate cybersecurity findings from numerous solutions to obtain a contextual understanding of which vulnerabilities and misconfigurations pose the greatest risk. This is a great challenge because security teams constantly struggle with prioritizing remediation based on disparate findings.
It helps if both IT and security teams are incentivized to make remediating a priority, with clearly defined metrics that can be tracked over time. Most importantly, organizations must consider cybersecurity as an important business function, identifying risks at the earliest possible stages when considering the purchase and deployment of new solutions. Another mostly overlooked aspect is improving data hygiene — cybersecurity is only as good as organizational data. The quality of data can make or break all other cybersecurity efforts.
With these considerations in mind, the adoption of appropriate cybersecurity technologies becomes paramount in achieving these objectives. While effective processes and checks can address organizational silos, a platform-based approach to preventive cybersecurity offers a precise and contextualized assessment of an organization’s vulnerabilities.
Leveraging comprehensive datasets, such a platform can integrate functions like vulnerability management, cloud security, web application security, identity security, and attack surface management. This integration enables organizations to consolidate risk insights, exposure analytics, risk prioritization, recommend strategies, benchmark performance, and inventory asset data from these diverse functions. As a result, teams gain complete visibility into the intricate digital landscape, allowing them to comprehend the full scope and depth of their vulnerabilities.
Exposure management solutions play a pivotal role in preventive security by alleviating the strain on security teams tasked with processing a constant influx of data from various cybersecurity tools. These solutions equip organizations with the necessary context to make informed, proactive decisions regarding which vulnerabilities pose the most significant threats, enabling swift remediation. Ultimately, organizations can more efficiently allocate their time and resources, prioritizing actions that reduce their overall cyber risk.
During this Cybersecurity Awareness Month, it serves as a resounding call to Indian organizations to take substantial steps toward embracing preventive security measures. Threat actors require just a single vulnerability or misconfiguration to launch an attack.
In the ongoing race against increasingly sophisticated cybercriminals, organizations must fortify their defences, making it costlier for adversaries to mount an attack. Reacting to attacks as they occur is no longer sufficient; organizations must concentrate on preventing as many attacks as possible to create a safer digital environment.