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It’s every security manager's worst nightmare. A member of the IT department reaches to alert that malicious software has been detected on an internal network, and the hacker potentially has access to layers of sensitive data. In the following days and weeks of remediation, locating an access point, and reinforcing cybersecurity measures, security managers often ask themselves, “could this data leak have been prevented?”
What to expect surrounding data leaks in 2020
2020 welcomed a lot of chaos in the cybersecurity industry. With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting the way of normal life, millions of people across the world were moved to remote work environments. Shifting company networks to allow for the remote connection by their entire workforce left organizations scrambling to protect their expanding attack surface.
Bad actors saw 2020 as full of opportunity not just because of remote workforces, but also because of the high-stakes nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthcare organizations and those linked to vaccine creation were hit hard by malicious actors trying to take advantage of their thinned resources and limited time to spend on cybersecurity. And to top it off, 2020 ended with one of the most expansive, organized, and impactful data leaks in third party risk management history with the discovery of SolarWinds.
So what does this mean for 2021? We can’t stress enough that proactively mitigating risk across your network is key to preventing data leaks, with a focus on three areas:
- Managing your organization’s internal security protection measures and measurement.
- Monitoring your vendors to avoid letting risks go undetected.
- Establishing solid employee cybersecurity policies.
Maturing your cybersecurity program won’t happen overnight, but focusing on more manageable steps both internally and with external partners sets security managers on the right path towards cybersecurity management.
Solidify your organization's program
Don’t overthink where to start when working to prevent data leaks in your network. First and foremost, ensuring your internal cybersecurity hygiene is well maintained will establish a solid base for decision-making and prioritizing resources. Getting full-visibility into where your business is behind the mark is possible with the right tools.
BitSight offers Attack Surface Analytics to help security program managers get a complete picture of the risks hiding on their network and help reduce overall program risk quickly and efficiently. Attack Surface Analytics comprehensively scans your network to detect threats or vulnerable points across all lines of business and cloud service providers.
It’s also important to consider where your organization’s security hygiene falls among your competitors to give your team, and company executives investing money in your program, some context to how you’re preventing data leaks. With benchmarking technology, security leaders can compare their cybersecurity posture to others in their industry, giving context to what’s “average” or “normal” for their industry. BitSight offers Benchmarking to Security Performance Management customers looking to gain a better understanding of what a solid cybersecurity program should look like, and to gain a more complete view of their program.
Don't write-off your third parties as outside your control
Some of the most impactful breaches in cybersecurity history have occurred through third-party access to a company’s network. Organizations are relying more and more on vendors to complete business operations better than they could do internally, increasing business efficiency but also adding to the access points bad actors can use to start a data leak in your network.
Continuous monitoring of your pool of vendors is a great starting point to prevent data leaks originating from your vendors. With consistent visibility into the security of third parties, vendor security managers don’t have to manually assess their vendors in a designated lifecycle, and instead only need to worry about a vendor’s cybersecurity if their monitoring software detects a data leak.
There are further steps to take to efficiently manage your vendor cybersecurity program, but starting with continuous monitoring technology is an effective first step.
Change your employees' habits now
A final precaution you can take to actively prevent data leaks from impacting your network is to require your employees to follow best practices for protecting their own network access. Most companies now require phishing training to educate their entire workforce on detecting common phishing email techniques. Other organizations require employees to use work-provided devices that block the use of non work-related IP addresses or activity. And finally, organizations following employee cybersecurity best-practices require two-factor authentication or remote access login technology when employees log into their business’s network.
Ensuring your own employees are securing their network access and devices will only help to prevent data leaks to your organization’s network.
Data leaks can be detrimental to organizations, but when security leaders can break down protection into more manageable steps, it’s easier to prevent dangerous data leaks from making it to your organization.