Last year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Risk Report, which has been used for more than a decade by organisations around the world as a risk assessment tool, named ‘cybersecurity failure’ as the fourth-most clear and present short-term danger to the global economy. Looking back on 2021 and considering the volume, intensity, and impact of cyber-attacks, the most popular form being ransomware, chances are it will report something similar for 2022.
As technology evolves and companies continue to embrace hybrid and distributed work models, one thing is certain: security needs to level up, consistently. These work models, new to many organisations, have opened attack vectors and created security issues – including from insider threats – and, as night follows day, will continue to do so.”
Smart executives know the impact a data breach or compliance failure can have on their business’ bottom line, and that’s why many are focusing in on cybersecurity and cyber resilience. They know that in a truly distributed workforce, where employees are working remotely, across countries and time zones, with personal devices and an accelerated shift to cloud apps and services, providing a digital workspace that gives employees access to the resources they need fast and securely is a must. In fact, in a world where trust is becoming hard to ascertain, it’s a competitive advantage.
So how can you secure the modern workplace, and what are the key things you must stop overlooking? Here are seven considerations.
1. Embed security into business priorities. The easiest way to do this is by ensuring your security leader unifies with the wider leadership team. Doing this enables all parties to gain greater understanding and insights, which, in turn, will promote operational performance and reduce risk. If you get this right, according to Accenture, you could reduce your cost of breaches by a whopping 71 percent.
2. Increase security IQ. We often think about cybersecurity as being just the responsibility of IT or a dedicated security department, but this is unwise. It’s also a significant reason why cybercrime and data breaches continue to occur. According to a recent report from IBM and the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach reached USD $4.24 million per incident in 2021, the highest in 17-years.
Employees, whatever the level, have an opportunity to reverse this trend. By building awareness, proactively increasing each employee’s security IQ, and cultivating a security mindset – from the executives down – an organisation can improve its defences and substantially lower its cyber risks. Given the chance, every employee can become their organisation’s greatest security asset, rather than a liability.
3. Know your estate. You need to understand your assets, architecture, and supply chain. This should be foundational when considering security, but unfortunately the information is rarely complete. It’s understandable because you’ll need an inventory of your users, devices, and services. Then, you’ll need to identify and categorise your assets and establish where they’re stored, how they’re transferred, what route they’re using, and what user privileges will be required (i.e., who needs access to what, why, and what the liabilities will be for granting access). However difficult, it shouldn’t stop you. Progress is better than perfection.
4. Implement a zero trust approach to security. Zero trust has become a top cybersecurity buzzword. Essentially, it refers to a modern security strategy that’s rooted in the principle of “never trust, always verify,” and that’s why security practitioners will tell you it means assuming every event and connection is untrusted and potentially malicious until proved otherwise. Or, that you need to work from a position of compromise and understand there’s always a way in.
Using a zero trust approach to security means accepting the network perimeter has no edge anymore and that security defences can no longer be based on something static. Rather, the perimeter has dissolved, and it can be local, in the cloud, or have a combination of hybrid with resources, including staff, in any location.
As such, it’s why zero trust models are designed with controls that have no implicit trust built into them, are always evolving, and are focused on users, devices and services. With more than 80 percent of all attacks involving stolen, weak or misused credentials, it’s also why zero trust models use security that prioritises access and restrictions; apply controls that are based on behavioural analysis; use comprehensive and continuous monitoring; are fixated on identity and visibility into what’s being accessed; and enable you to respond to suspicious activity in real time.
5. Align to a standard. If you’re going to use a zero trust approach to security, there are standards that can help you. However, one of the most comprehensive and vendor-neutral standards is the NIST 800-207. This is a US standard that the Biden administration issued as an executive order in 2021. Due to increasing cyber-attacks, they mandated U.S. Federal Agencies adhere to it when implementing zero trust. The good thing about this is that it’s had an enormous amount of input and validation from organisations, vendors, and government agencies, and many cybersecurity practitioners view it as the “go-to” standard.
6. Measure the right metrics. The three most important metrics to measure in security are time to detect, time to respond, and time to resolve, so make sure you’re capturing and improving your times. Some companies, like CrowdStrike, advocate a 1-10-60 benchmark for security teams. This means your security team must be able to detect a threat within 1 minute of a breach, investigate and understand it within the first 10 minutes, and then contain and eradicate it within 60 minutes. Why? Because today’s attackers often get traction and fulfil their objective within the first few hours.
7. Build the right partnerships. Trust and confidence in your security partner are crucial, because implementing security can be challenging depending on the size, complexity, and maturity of your organisation. For example, you might be dealing with infrastructure that’s on premises, in the cloud, or a combination of both. If it’s in the cloud, it might be with a single cloud provider, or it could be hybrid cloud or multi-cloud. And you could be using various cloud computing models such as SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. It’s highly probable you’ll have legacy systems and unmanaged devices from shadow IT, too. You might also be dealing with a small security team that’s overwhelmed, specific industry standards to meet, and a workforce that isn’t adept with technology.
Whatever the case, it’s essential you choose a security partner who has a wealth of experience in delivering success stories with clients just like you. You want security simplified, tools reduced, compliance in check, a complete picture of all network traffic, users, files, and endpoints, as well as a partner who can give you access to their resources – advanced technologies that leverage AI and machine learning as well as their people and thought leadership. That way, you’ll find and detect threats faster and be on your “A-game” when executives want answers.
Investing wisely in your next security partner guarantees you less cyber risk exposure, giving you a strong competitive advantage.
Now I want to hear from you…
Tell me how you protect the modern workplace and what you see organisations overlooking when trying to secure their estate. Then, head over to Citrix to learn more about how they can ensure the security of your workplace.
Finally, in the spirit of full disclosure, please be aware that I’ve received compensation for promoting this #ad for Citrix. Because your success is important to me, I only align myself with brands I believe in, and Citrix is one of them.