Protecting your cybersecurity is a lot like protecting your health. It’s better to take a proactive approach now—eating healthily, exercising and getting plenty of rest—than to play catch-up later on.
The same idea applies to your business’s IT security. Every threat you can head off with proactive, thorough risk-mitigation techniques means one less high-pressure security event putting your data and systems at risk down the line.
Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until a threat comes to you. With foundational controls, you can proactively improve your security, detecting and fortifying areas vulnerable to breach before they become a problem.
What is foundational protection?
At its core, foundational protection is an approach to security that addresses threats before they occur. This distinguishes it from more reactive threat detection and response techniques, such as quarantining suspicious files, killing malicious processes or deleting registry keys.
Foundational security practices protect your assets from the ground up, starting with secure configurations and branching outward to include proactive monitoring, patching, security controls and data protection. As such, a foundational approach is a perfect complement to the more reactive security processes mentioned above. Here are some areas to look at when building a foundational security approach:
- System hardening
Servers, networks and databases are often designed with a team’s workload in mind, but while efficiency is certainly a top priority, building systems with secure configurations is imperative to maintaining your cybersecurity. This concept, known as system hardening, allows IT support teams to circumvent network vulnerabilities by designing more secure systems. For instance, an IT services provider might require users to routinely change passwords or inventory software to ensure all programs are up to date and secure.
- Vulnerability management
IT services providers regularly audit systems to identify network weaknesses and address these in a timely, proactive way. This technique—called vulnerability management—helps businesses scan for potential issues, forecast a given vulnerability’s likelihood of being exploited, estimate potential financial impact and prioritize the order in which weaknesses are resolved.
- Proactive monitoring
File integrity monitoring and system logs can be used to identify suspicious behavior or file changes that may indicate malware or a network breach. File monitoring works especially well when threat responses are automated—that is, when certain behaviors automatically trigger file quarantines, blocking and other event response techniques. Read more about network monitoring and its advantages by checking out our 4 benefits of network monitoring you probably forgot about blog post.
Foundational protection controls
We’ve talked about foundational protection in theory, but abstract ideas do not a secure network make! With that in mind, let’s take a look at some real-life examples of security strategies and tools that fall into the foundational protection category:
- Anti-virus software
Antivirus software is a basic foundational security control to prevent malware and other threats from making it onto your network. More sophisticated variations can also block more advanced threats like ransomware and malicious email attachments. Your IT support team can help you pick the antivirus software that’s best for your business needs.
A common hacking technique involves breaking into a company’s network and weaponizing the secure data within. Cybercriminals may sell this data on the dark web or threaten to publicize it unless you pay them a certain sum of money. If you’d rather not deal with the associated headache, encrypting files will make it more difficult for hackers to get hold of your data. For up-to-date information about this kind of threat, read our Ransomware roundup: What you need to know for 2018 blog post.
Adding a firewall to your network fortifies your systems and blocks unwanted access. This can also improve network security when remote users log in, meaning you don’t have to worry when employees work from home.
- Patch management
Application updates go a long way toward ensuring that security loopholes are addressed immediately upon discovery. Designing a patch management process with your IT services provider will help you build a comprehensive, timely plan for installing security patches and upgrades.
Overall, having a more proactively secured network means less stress for you and your IT support team. And what’s better for your health than stress reduction?!