Vulnerability Assessments & the 5 Laws of Cybersecurity
Jul 19, 2022
It’s hard to believe, but once upon a time, business networks weren't so complicated; entire teams worked 40 hours on-site, and staff accessed IT almost anytime through a simple shoulder tap. Fast forward to today: most employees either work remotely full or part-time and experience new complex technical problems and hope IT support promptly fixes them.
Rapid digital transformation, new partnerships, and larger remote workforces have given IT staff a new complicated web to weave and protect. As more untrained employees get acclimated to working offsite, threat actors are learning they have more targets than ever.
The Growing Demand for Vulnerability Assessments
Vulnerability assessments (or risk assessments) are now business best standards that help determine network gaps and if employees/partners are following the necessary practices to keep data safe— no matter where they work. Especially since…
- 86% of people don’t know that a VPN helps reduce risks from unsafe connections
- 61% don’t know that private browsing doesn’t prevent their ISP from tracking them
- 52% don’t realize that ransomware involves encrypting data for ransom
- 89% cannot identify multi-factor authentication in screenshots
- 27% don’t realize that public Wi-Fi can be unsafe
While Vulnerability assessments determine if organizations are secure and locate potential gaps, the vital question remains: What should businesses do proactively to ensure their data, not to mention reputation, are not at risk?
The 5 Laws of Cybersecurity
When it comes to cybersecurity, proactivity is typically a plus. And while there is almost always a new practice to deploy, this list helps businesses maintain a clearer image of their network, understand what makes them vulnerable, and help create protocols to deter future security holes.
1. Everything is Vulnerable
While employees are still your most significant risk factor, breaches can appear everywhere. Organizations must be cautious and treat everything as a potential risk, including inbound data, new and old devices, partners, and applications.
Cybercriminals constantly adapt new techniques, so businesses can’t afford to assume anything is ever entirely safe. Even an authorized partner could make an error that endangers your entire infrastructure. Organizations must consider everything is malicious and verify before trusting; for example, restricting usage so employees/partners only access what they require. Another is verifying a company’s cybersecurity before working with them.
2. Staff/Partners Don’t Always Follow the Rules
Did you know that 88% of data breaches result from human error? A continuously high number, regardless of today’s increased focus on educating employees about potential threats, so clearly, training alone doesn’t cut it. But why…?
Staff can often cut corners and, without realizing it, pick convenience over security. Cybersecurity professionals should assume users won’t always act as professionally as they should, and companies should emphasize cybersecurity training as often as possible to specify clear protocols.
Mistakes happen, and cybersecurity systems shouldn’t fall at the first error when properly designed. Cybersecurity professionals should presume people will use unsafe practices and, by nature, anticipate designing more robust systems and protocols.
3. Remove All Unnecessary Devices
Business networks are rapidly evolving as the world adopts more technology. Teams can reduce unnecessary risks and complexities by removing older, outdated equipment to decrease their attack surface.
Protecting every piece of software takes resources and time. The more assets, the more complicated it will become, raising the chances of errors and oversight. Clearing outdated devices can make the process faster, clearer, and more affordable.
4. Record & Audit Regularly
Knowing what technology is essential can be difficult, especially within larger and evolving enterprises. Precisely why it is critical to document all policies, devices, and changes and then regularly audit them.
For example, records should be kept every time your team…
- Adds a new device
- Downloads an application
- Amends a policy
- Or makes other system changes
If not, they might forget, fail to update, and make unexpected vulnerabilities.
5. Expect the Best… Plan for the Worst
No one ever wants to be targeted. But when it comes to cybersecurity, only a few things are ever assured...
1. Staff will make errors (often careless)
2. You can expect systems to fail (at some point)
3. Cybercriminals will always find ways to penetrate networks
IT teams should always anticipate attacks and create preventative protocols to mitigate data breaches. These generally include backups of critical systems and data and a way to inform affected parties fast.
Business security is constantly evolving to keep up with new emerging threats. These five laws were created as a guide to help ensure the three pillars of cybersecurity: people, processes, and technology are at the front of your strategy and are protected through routine Vulnerability Assessments and comprehensive protocols.