How to Dramatically Reduce Cyber Risk in Education, Medical, and Infrastructure Sectors
One initiative policymakers must consider to vastly improve cybersecurity for all communities served by the education, medical, and infrastructure sectors is in the area of continuous cybersecurity assessments. In this brief, you will learn why a superior approach to measurably reduce cyber risk and improve cybersecurity for all public and private entities is needed, and what expected results and outcomes can be achieved through continuous cybersecurity assessments.
Why Continuous Cybersecurity Assessments? Why Now?
In every recent regulation, directive, and requirement like DORA (DIGITAL OPERATIONAL RESILIENCE ACT), NIS 2, and the new SEC Rules, they are all calling for a continuous assessment approach to improve cybersecurity. Although the examples above primarily focus on commercial entities in various parts of the world (and within the U.S.,) the continuous assessment narrative is all about readiness, business continuity, and measurable risk reduction. Today there is a call to arms throughout the entire cybersecurity community to reduce the tremendous number of breaches affecting all communities, including underserved communities, and continuous assessments are key to bringing that into reality.
Traditionally, many organizations performed annual penetration tests in house, or they hired a third party to perform them based upon whatever regulatory compliance or industry standard organizations needed or desired to achieve. However, an earlier penetration test from a year ago only supplies value if it is still valid, but when something changes in the network infrastructure, the earlier assessment is no longer a complete picture of an organization’s risk. Bringing in consultants for a few days to test an organization’s security posture is unfortunately a one and done task that’s expensive, time consuming, and provides little return on the buyer’s investment.
What Is Not Working? What Is Working?
Too often in the fight against cybercrime, policymakers, organizations, and IT (Information Technology) departments tend to think more cybersecurity defenses are the best approach. Even after spending vast amounts of private and public money on defenses, organizations are still being breached and extorted (in the form of ransomware) like never before in history. The problem is that none of the defenses deployed can highlight where organizations are most at risk of a successful cyberattack.
As a result, commercial organizations worldwide are now adopting a continuous assessment approach to discover the truly exploitable vulnerabilities in their network infrastructures. This approach allows organizations to see their networks through the eyes of an attacker by using the same tactics, techniques, and procedures that attackers use. Simply put, the only way to reduce the risk of a successful cyberattack is to know where you are most vulnerable – and fix it. And organizations are using continuous assessment solutions, underpinned by AI and machine learning, to autonomously find their greatest cyber risks. The recommendation here is for all public entities that serve our communities to do the same.
Five Key Outcomes of Continuous Assessments
Understanding the reasoning behind a continuous assessment approach is imperative. In context of this approach, education, medical, and infrastructure sector organizations who serve our communities can:
Reduce cyber risk
Discover, triage, and eliminate exploitable vulnerabilities that put their organization and communities at the greatest risk of a successful cyberattack. Performing continuous assessments of an organization’s network, and mitigating issues found, is the most reliable and truly effective way of reducing cyber risk.
Prevent expensive outages
Prevent costly downtime, defeat data theft, and effectively protect their communities. Using the findings and detailed remediation guidance provided by continuous assessment solutions, organizations can eliminate costly post breach investigations while maintaining uptime and meeting client demands.
Decrease security costs
Lessen cybersecurity costs and preserve valuable IT person-hours. With continuous assessment solutions, organizations perform their own assessments and eliminate the need for disruptive manual assessments (e.g., penetration tests) performed by expensive third-party assessors and consultants.
Improve security posture
Understand where they are most at risk, fix what matters most, and avoid focusing on non exploitable vulnerabilities. Performing continuous assessments daily results in increased security, discovers systemic issues, and ensures streamlined and effective security improvements are made.
Measure security improvement
Receive highly detailed reports and trending data to demonstrate improvement of their security programs. Using continuous assessment solutions to track progress ensures organizations are getting a return on their investment, while adhering to security best practices and industry guidelines.
Benefits of Continuous Assessments
By performing continuous assessments, organizations will have a clear understanding of their risk exposure at any given time. The benefits of continuous assessments defeat the unknowns and deliver confidence that security is improving daily. No longer will smaller, or even larger IT departments and security teams struggle to understand where they are most at risk. Instead, they will have a clear picture of their security posture and where gaps in security exist. Armed with reports, data points, trends, analysis, and clearly identified vulnerabilities, continuous assessments help organizations understand what remediations are immediately needed to reduce the most cyber risk.
In the context of the positive outcomes listed here, one of the most impactful things policymakers can do now is develop initiatives that suggest, recommend, and/or mandate that continuous assessments be performed by public entities that serve our communities. This is the only way organizations can fully understand where they are truly at risk of falling victim to a cyberattack and proactively fixing the discovered issues before an attack occurs. This proactive and continuous assessment approach to vastly improving cybersecurity should be considered a must-have to combat today’s cyber threat actors. Now is the time to act!