Evolving technologies allow businesses to better reach their intended audiences, streamline workflows, collect and analyze data, and more. But as organizations continue to make digital transformation a priority, the risk of being targeted by cyber criminals and other threat actors is likewise growing. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Internet Crime Report 2021, potential losses from cybercrimes in the US in the past year exceeded $6.9 billion. To counter these dangers to their operations and their customers, successful organizations make threat mitigation a top priority.
What Is Threat Mitigation?
Threat mitigation (also called cyber risk mitigation or cyber attack mitigation) is a term that describes the tools, processes, and strategies companies use to reduce the severity of or seriousness of a potential data breach or other cyber attack. As such, threat mitigation may be separated into three primary elements or approaches:
Threat prevention strategies aim to reduce the likelihood of a successful cyber attack by identifying and eliminating security weaknesses within the system. Prevention focuses on blocking threats before they can execute, rather than responding to incidents after they have already occurred.
Threat detection is the practice of monitoring an organization's security ecosystem to quickly identify any malicious activity within the networks. Detection must be coupled with other mitigation efforts to ensure that when suspicious activity is identified, the organization has the ability to respond quickly and decisively.
Threat remediation addresses detected threats, correcting or reducing the impact of the threat and removing it from the system. Remediation may be thought of as threat response, and includes strategies for containing and limiting damage to the network.
3 Primary Steps of Threat Mitigation
Advanced persistent threat (ATP) actors represent a dynamic risk to modern businesses. To protect vital assets and ensure continued operations, companies implementing threat mitigation strategies should follow three primary steps:
- Assessing Risks
The first step of any threat mitigation strategy is for the organization to develop a clear picture of their network, assets, and controls, along with any known security vulnerabilities, the likelihood of them being exploited, and the possible impact they represent to the business. Documenting these potential weaknesses and the threat vectors that may be used to take advantage of them provides a rough structure on which to build a threat mitigation plan. This means performing a cyber risk assessment.
A cyber risk assessment is defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as "The process of identifying risks to organizational operations (including mission, functions, image, reputation), organizational assets, individuals, other organizations, and the Nation, resulting from the operation of an information system." The purpose of the risk assessment is to uncover security gaps and inform risk response teams while also assisting leaders and administrators in the decision making process. With the risk assessment completed, the business can then more easily prioritize securing their most vulnerable areas.
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- Implementing the Right Security
Modern threat vectors are extremely varied; network security solutions should be just as diverse. Establishing a complete security profile will likely require a number of different security solutions, including the following:
- Endpoint Security
Endpoints — end-user devices such as laptops, desktops, mobile devices, tablets, servers, virtual computing environments, and internet of things (IoT) devices — often represent the most vulnerable attack vectors in IT. With the rising dangers of shadow IT, it can be next to impossible to fully account for every network endpoint within an organization. Instead, it's recommended that IT departments place a heavy emphasis on effective access protocols and employee training. Non-standard endpoints, such as IoT devices, should have their firmware assessed for any possible vulnerabilities that might otherwise be overlooked.
- Firewalls and Antivirus Software
Firewalls and antivirus software are two forms of network security that are an absolute must for modern businesses. Firewalls act as barriers against unauthorized network access, filtering incoming information based on predefined criteria, scanning sample data as it flows through the system, and comparing results to a database of verified threats. Antivirus software operates at the file.
- Threat Detection
Given the high stakes of cyber security, it's not enough for businesses to simply react to threats as they arise. Threat detection takes a more aggressive stance, actively seeking out threats and probing a business' devices, networks, and applications for potential weaknesses. By monitoring network traffic and use, IT teams can address possible security gaps without having to wait for threat actors to make the first move. Advanced security tools exist to provide real-time monitoring capabilities, so that security personnel may easily inspect massive amounts of data flowing through the network.
- Endpoint Security
- Creating a response plan
Cybercriminals need only seconds to steal data or cause damage, and the longer they have access to a network, the more problems they can create for a business. Building an incident response plan gives IT security teams, leaders, and even non-technical employees a set of instructions to follow in the event that a network breach occurs. By assigning responsibilities and establishing proven contingency plans, companies can avoid the costly confusion and inaction that so often hamper effective security response.
Get Started with Threat Mitigation
In this era of unrestricted connectivity and digital communication technologies, no business is completely safe from the threat of cyber attack. Threat Mitigation is an essential component of an effective security profile, empowering businesses with the tools and strategies they need to identify, respond to, and remove network threats. Acrisure Cyber Security services provide resources and support for business across every industry, connecting organizations with the right people to ensure that the right security solutions and systems are where they need to be. We can help set you on the path to effective threat assessment and mitigation. And, in the event that a data breach occurs, Acrisure Cybersecurity Insurance protects your business and covers your liability, so that your company lives to do business another day.
Make sure that you have the resources and protection in place to survive your next cyberattack. Contact us today, and let us help you protect your most valuable digital assets.
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