Are Your Security and Compliance Tools Leaving You Open to Threats? Assessing the Cybersecurity Gap

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The term “future-proofing” is often overused in business, especially when it relates to topics like security and resiliency related to cloud technology. The truth is that there is no real way to future-proof an organization. It is possible, however, to recognize the critical and dangerous cybersecurity gap between your security and the threats present in the wild.

What is the cybersecurity gap? It is the separation between real and present security threats and a business’s security and risk mitigation capabilities. Thousands of companies are at risk of a data breach due to hacks and non-compliance. These businesses need to take a proactive and comprehensive approach to GRC in 2021.

 

security gap

What are the Major Security Threats for Businesses in 2021?

2021 presents a unique challenge for businesses and security firms. More people are online than ever before. Online shopping is putting more and more pressure on retailers to field fast, secure digital storefronts. Large-scale businesses are transitioning, partially or fully, into remote working setups that will probably continue indefinitely. 

This kind of transformation comes at a price: new vectors for security threats to take advantage of systems and people. Some of the threats that business will see emerge or amplify over 2021 include:

  1. Phishing Scams. This classic security threat present since the earliest days of the Internet. Phishing scams are growing in complexity, subtly and impact. Since these attacks target employees (often the weakest part of the security chain), they are often the hardest to protect against. 
  2. Malware and Ransomware. Viruses are always an issue, as we’re all seeing with the unfolding SolarWinds Orion hack. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) are increasingly targeted by hackers to deliver malware and ransomware to a broad swath of businesses.
  3. Security Vulnerabilities Introduced by Third Parties. Another lesson we’ve learned from the SolarWinds hack is the danger of security vulnerabilities introduced through third-party services and software.
  4.  Internet of Things (IoT) Attacks. IoT is increasingly present in industrial, manufacturing and supply chain logistics. Often, these devices are the last that anyone secures, which leaves a major hole in most network security plans.
  5. Persistent Attacks. Botnets of millions of infected computers can be used to attack systems all over the world. These networks are only growing in 2021, and foreign-financed attacks leveraging these networks will increasingly threaten major infrastructure and government systems.
  6.  Increased Cloud Usage. Companies are racing to the cloud to make their businesses more resilient, but often at the expense of security or compliance. This is a recipe for an attack, especially when those cloud systems don’t protect critical user or business data. 

 

Why Is There a Gap Between Security and Security Threats?

While security experts know about security threats, they struggle to keep up with them. It’s like a game of whack-a-mole: whenever a security threat comes up, mitigation efforts barely have time to address it before three new threats take their place. As new technologies emerge for consumer or business use, thousands of hackers work day and night to exploit any weakness. 

The gap between security controls and threats is not a theoretical construct, but a real problem baked into the technology. Many cybersecurity companies will perform what’s known as “security gap analysis” to determine the gap between an organization’s security controls and relevant compliance standards or even against common security threats. 

Cybersecurity gaps don’t just come from nowhere. These gaps are tied to critical shortcomings or flaws in technology and people, like:

  1. Evolving security threats and a lack of concurrent security control management. Some companies just don’t see the danger of certain threats and when the costs of adopting proper security controls are weighted against the threats, some companies just decide to take the chance.
  2. Poorly planned adoptions of new technologies, features, or platforms. Many companies are running to the cloud. This is incredibly important, and cloud infrastructure is a critical part of modern security and risk management. However, this approach requires real planning, intelligence and insight to pull off properly to reap the benefits of a cloud transformation.
  3. Lack of proper IT security staffing, training, or education. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and often that weakest link in security is people. Employees need training, both for onboarding and continued security management.
  4. Lack of security prioritization in organizational decision-making. Sometimes risk assessment goes wrong, and business leaders without the pressure of rigorous compliance standards may decide to cut costs at the expense of security.

These shortcomings aren’t isolated. They stem from each other in a self-perpetuating cycle where priorities, funding, training and planning all suffer. In the meantime.

Perhaps the most damaging aspect of these shortcomings is that they open the door for hackers to access important, sometimes critical and protected, data. 

 

What Can Modern Security Stay Ahead of Threats to Businesses?

With that in mind, closing the cybersecurity gap means being proactive rather than reactive. You can’t just keep up, like the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke, waiting for the next threat to break through the dam. Addressing your security means organizing your tools and technologies around clear, precise and automated risk management and organization.

Consider the following:

  • Do you have the right scope to assess risk with your current technology and security controls? That is, can you get a big picture understanding of your technology and security features to understand where your vulnerabilities might be?
  • Are you utilizing cloud-native applications? Cloud platforms help simplify the implementation of security controls across entire networks or data infrastructures–when done correctly. Likewise, utilizing a cloud platform can give you more advanced tools to manage security, compliance and risk from a single interface.
  • Have you worked with a Managed Security Service Provider? Staying ahead of security threats is a full-time job, and MSSPs with fully functional tools to help you with security audits and risk assessment can provide you much more insight into your current security situation than you can find on your own. Additionally, working in certain industries (healthcare, government) require very specific maintenance and upkeep that benefit from the input of an expert third party. Or, in the case of compliance standards like FedRAMP, they require a third-party partner and assessor.
  • Are you using out-of-the-box solutions? Many canned software packages are purpose-built for a broad spectrum of clients, which are likely not to meet your specific needs. Working with such a software package could make it that much easier for security vulnerabilities to make their way into your system. Additionally, you’ll likely find that such solutions won’t connect important business, security and compliance operations in a way that works to keep your system safe.

Conclusion

Just having a security, governance and risk platform on hand isn’t enough to ensure that you can keep data safe. It takes real relationships with security professionals, deep and meaningful risk assessment and a set of tools that are tailored for your unique needs and the demands of compliance in your industry. If you aren’t willing to pursue that level of commitment, then you will most likely find yourself falling behind the security gap, which means that your data and the data of your clients and customers, are in danger. 

Don’t settle for canned security and an incomplete approach to modern compliance. Work with professionals using automation and decades of expertise. To learn how Continuum GRC can help you with HIPAA, FedRAMP, FISMA, NIST, SOC 2, GDPR, and PCI DSS compliance, call 1-888-896-6207 to talk more with the experts.

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