4 Tips for Effective Cyber Vigilance as Your Attack Surface Expands

Cyber vigiliance

Cyberattacks are on the rise. In 2022, there was a 38 percent increase in global attacks compared to the previous year—and security teams are struggling to keep up. It now takes an average of 277 days for teams to identify and contain a breach. 

With so many alerts being received by the Security Operations Centers (SOCs) each day, how do teams decide which issues to address first?

Practicing proactive cyber vigilance is the key to staying one step ahead of threat actors and preventing attacks before they happen.

Here are four ways your team can stay cyber vigilant and remediate areas of risk—before the bad guys exploit them.

1. Gain better visibility over your attack surface

Situational awareness is a prerequisite for cyber vigilance. To detect and prevent attacks, you need better visibility across your attack surface. You need to see your attack surface the way hackers do.

Your attack surface is the sum of the digital and physical assets within your network. Any vulnerability in this surface can be exploited by malicious actors to gain access to a system and data.

But protecting your attack surface has become increasingly difficult. The adoption of cloud services, business expansion, and the growth of shadow IT, remote work, and the use of personal devices is expanding your organization’s digital footprint.

Attack surface analytics can help you gain visibility into this ecosystem and any risks or threats that lie hidden. Instead of keeping a manual inventory of assets, you can continuously discover applications, devices, and systems—even cloud instances—that make up your attack surface. 

With infrastructure-wide views you can visualize the location of each asset broken down by cloud provider, geography, and business unit. You can also assess current risk exposure and prioritize high risk assets for proactive remediation.

2. Set strong processes for patching cadence and endpoint detection

Proactive patch management can have a significant impact on cyber risk reduction. In fact, Bitsight studies prove that the speed at which you patch software vulnerabilities is directly correlated to the likelihood of experiencing a cyber event. Moreover, a poor patching cadence correlates to a nearly sevenfold increase in ransomware risk. Maintaining a frequent patching cadence can help drive down this risk significantly.

Be sure to extend the same cyber vigilance to your endpoints. Continuously probe and monitor your network to detect new endpoints, whether from new employees working from home or new digital vendors being added to your supply chain.

3. Implement a vulnerability detection & response protocol to hunt down threats

Instead of playing whack-a-mole with threats, practice proactive cyber vigilance by automatically and continuously monitoring your IT environment for emerging vulnerabilities. 

Establish alerts so that you’re notified in near-real time the moment critical risk vectors are detected, such as misconfigured systems, open access ports, unpatched systems, risky third-party vendors, or anomalous user behavior.

With real time intelligence into the security posture of your digital assets and remediation guidance, you can rapidly and proactively mitigate risk. You can also learn from these insights to better understand the root cause of issues for more effective security performance management.

4. Ensure employees stay cyber vigilant

According to the latest Verizon DBIR, the human factor continues to play a significant role in cyberattacks and factors into 74 percent of total breaches through error, privilege misuse, use of stolen credentials, or social engineering.

Follow these steps to encourage cyber vigilance in your workforce:

  • Educate employees on cyber hygiene: Train employees how to spot and report  a suspicious email or link. Even basics like avoiding public Wi-Fi networks, using strong passwords, and refraining from sharing credentials with team members can make a big difference.
  • Don’t omit senior leadership: Board members and executives have access to the most sensitive information in your organization, but they are often the least protected due to security protocol exceptions that are made for them. Conduct regular one-on-one briefings to educate them on the specific risks and threats they face, such as spoofing, phishing/executive fraud, whaling, and man-in-the-middle attacks. Ensure they have a direct line to a security resource 24/7.
  • Watch for areas of concern in your cyber analytics: Monitor user behavior, specifically activities that may introduce malware into your network, such as evidence of exposed credentials and software sharing by peer-to-peer exchange protocols.

Make cyber vigilance a priority—at all levels of the organization

There are multiple ways in which hackers can infiltrate your organization, but a strong culture of cyber vigilance, based on policies, strategies, and best practices, can help you understand and proactively address pressing vulnerabilities—internally and across your supply chain—before they are exploited.

Learn more about how Bitsight can help. Request a demo today.