What does proactive cybersecurity look like?

What does proactive cybersecurity look like?

If your Canadian business keeps employee or customer information online, then there’s a good chance that it will be targeted by cybercriminals. According to a 2019 survey by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, almost one in five or 20% of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been a victim of a cyberattack in the past two years. For organizations with 100 to 499 employees, that figure is more than double at 42%.

But despite the looming threat of cyberattacks, 44% of small businesses still do not have any cyber defences in place. This is a cause for concern, as a cyberattack has serious consequences. Not only does it come with staggering noncompliance fines and litigation fees, but it can also cause irreparable reputational damage that can lead you to lose clients — or worse, your business.

Adopting a proactive approach to cybersecurity can protect you from a cyberattack and the devastation that accompanies it.

What is proactive cybersecurity?

Proactive cybersecurity aims to combat cyberthreats by identifying and addressing security risks even before an attack occurs. By contrast, reactive cybersecurity involves mitigating damage caused by attacks that have already occurred. Unfortunately, while most organizations have reactive defences like firewalls, ad blockers, and antivirus software, they often overlook setting up proactive security measures.

The best kind of defence is a holistic one that incorporates both proactive and reactive cybersecurity. The former defends against potential cyber risks, and the latter cleans up in case some attacks make it through the security gaps.

What are the key components of proactive cybersecurity?

At its core, proactive cybersecurity is all about being one step ahead of cybercriminals. It’s about anticipating the schemes malicious actors will use and setting safeguards to block them. The following should be uncompromisable in a proactive cybersecurity strategy:

1. Threat hunting – Threat hunting involves getting into the mind of a cybercriminal to look for weaknesses that could allow them to slip into your system or network. For instance, IT professionals would weigh what a cybercriminal would do to your data based on your business size, industry, and the types of data you store. Is your data ideal for holding ransom or is it the perfect stepping stone to get more personal information or infiltrate bigger corporations?

Keeping logs and analyzing data are important in uncovering malicious intent, so be sure to use threat hunting tools that are intelligence-driven, analytics-driven, or situational awareness-driven to ensure accurate results. Once the intent of a malicious actor is uncovered, your IT department or external IT partner can set up multilayered precautions to ensure that hackers cannot get through.

2. Ethical hacking – Also called penetration testing or pen testing, it involves security experts performing actual cyberattacks with the intention of helping organizations discover exploitable vulnerabilities in their IT infrastructure.

White hat hackers use a variety of methods including brute force attacks, SQL injections, and social engineering schemes to identify security weaknesses. They can perform breach attempts on application systems such as application programming interfaces (APIs) and frontend/backend servers as well. By having hackers launch authorized simulated cyberattack on your computer systems, you get an accurate picture of your existing security gaps, allowing you to strengthen these before cybercriminals can exploit them.

3. Proactive monitoring – With the majority of businesses adopting remote work arrangements, visibility over your systems and devices is more important than ever. Monitor your networks and endpoints 24/7 to catch potential issues before they become bigger problems. Leverage automated solutions that can continuously scan for malware and system errors and report the nature and whereabouts of risks in real time.

Pay particular attention to remote devices with access to your business accounts or sensitive data, as these can be an easy entry point for cybercriminals. Vigilantly monitor user activity and take note of possible red flags such as failed login attempts, accessing of data outside of work hours, or logins from a new location or device.

4. Staff training – A huge chunk of your cyber defence depends on your staff; they interact with your endpoints and handle data daily, and they have a responsibility to keep these safe. Hence, no proactive cybersecurity strategy is complete without security awareness training.

Training your employees on the best cybersecurity practices such as using a password manager to store login credentials or a VPN to access company data on a personal device can lower employee-related cybersecurity risks. Educating your teams on different phishing schemes can also prevent them from being a victim of one. When everyone is prepared for an attack, knows how to identify threats, and follows protocols for reporting them, cyberattacks won’t likely succeed.

With XBASE’s Exponentially Better™ services, you get access to a wide range of proactive cybersecurity solutions, from risk assessments to security awareness training to endpoint security. Safeguard your business now! Get in touch with an XBASE IT specialist to get started.