Cybercriminals are quite pleased with themselves. Their recent handiwork has resulted in breaking news headlines, cover stories of major newspapers and banners flashing with details of the latest data breach. Unfortunately, the headlines displaying their successes leave their victims in a compromised, and often fiscal, mess.

These cyber masterminds have become unpredictable in their methods and there is no telling who their next target is. Over the past few years, both large and small organizations, as well as, individuals have suffered drastic repercussions from data breaches. Witnessing these horrible losses has driven many organizations to implement new, stronger security measures to deter cybercriminals and protect their data.

There are five significant security steps companies can undergo to avoid falling victim to evil-doers and landing defeated on the front page of a national newspaper.

 

Step 1: Assess

Conducting an objective review of the current environment is the first step toward achieving a solid security foundation. A comprehensive assessment will evaluate the current security posture in all areas, from network architecture and security infrastructure and policy to monitoring capability and incident response readiness. It will identify potential vulnerabilities and highlight gaps in security resources, capabilities, and infrastructure. By conducting this evaluation, organizations will generate the input required to design a blueprint for fundamentally secure operations.

 

Step 2: Segment

Following a thorough assessment, to the next step is to segment the network. By creating proper segmentation, organizations can stop high velocity attacks by containing the infection before it expands across the global network and across departmental boundaries. Organizations often find it useful to take a defensive approach and work backward from worst-case scenarios. By reverse-engineering the infection path, teams can identify prime areas for segmentation.

 

Step 3: Add Security Controls

Implement security controls to further protect business assets and operations while enforcing business policy and industry standards. The security infrastructure protects critical assets and operations by detecting and preventing attacks. Thwarting today’s sophisticated threats requires an equally advanced, multi-layered threat prevention solution. The different layers must work cohesively to detect, announce and prevent attacks. To maintain secure operations, the solution should be supported by dynamic, real-time threat intelligence feeds derived from white hat information and collaboration.

 

Step 4: Monitor

 Monitoring is a critical security element to securing the network. The increased visibility gained by continuous monitoring alerts organizations to the onset of an attack and exposes security controls and policies that are no longer functional. It’s clear from several recent high-profile breaches that better monitoring processes would have controlled and possibly prevented the attack. Unfortunately, in some instances, the systems guarding both the perimeter and the network generated alerts but the warning signs were missed or ignored.

 

Step 5: Incident Response Plans

Incident response plans are vital as they can make the difference between a contained incident and a brand-destroying catastrophe. From disaster recovery to business continuity, organizations must map out scenarios from the most common to the most severe, and formulate a plan to keep their business running, even as they deal with an attack. Once the plan is designed, test it on a regular basis to make sure it remains relevant and effective. The lessons learned from test runs will help sharpen the organization’s incident response capabilities and ultimately reduce exposure and downtime after an attack.

 

The rising wave of cybercrime has taught all business they must proactively and preemptively strengthen their security before they are the target of the next attack. Cybercriminals have become crafty in their methods and will find and take advantage of any security weakness they can. Organizations must be vigilant around the clock. Implementing these five steps strengthen security and better protect sensitive data.

Read more about these five steps to protect your business