Targeted cyber attacks against organizations are increasing and accounted for 59% of all attacks so far this year according to a new cyber threat report by Positive Technologies. Nowadays, it’s not about if an organization will fall victim to a cyber incident but when. In order to protect themselves against the ever-evolving threat of a cyber attack, organizations need to take a proactive approach to cybersecurity. This means that organizations need to focus on getting ahead of threat actors by anticipating threats before they occur rather than reacting to cyber incidents as they happen.

Source: CompTIA

What is Proactive Security?

A proactive approach to security includes the use of cyber intelligence feeds and consistent network monitoring to identify suspicious behaviour. The purpose of a proactive approach to security is to deter data breaches by preventing threats before a hacker or cyber incident manages to breach their network.

Proactive security is different from a traditional reactive approach. Reactive security focuses on detecting and reacting to threats that penetrate a network. Using reactive security measures like antivirus to block threats is important for security. However, this is not enough as it only relies on addressing known threats and leaves organizations exposed to new attack methods and zero-day exploits.

Why Proactive Security?

Some businesses use the reactive approach to security because they think that trying to anticipate cyber attacks is unnecessary and expensive. However, the current cyber threat landscape shows that most of the time, responding to an attack as it happens is too late. Being ready for a cyber attack before it happens will lessen the damage and help organizations fix potential risks before they are exploited. Here are 3 ways organizations can incorporate a proactive approach to security.

Assess network and security posture: Conducting an assessment is a vital first step in taking a proactive approach to security. An assessment will help organizations stay ahead of hackers by revealing security gaps within their infrastructure before they can be exploited. Organizations can then take any necessary actions to fix any security gaps. Assessments can also help guide organizations in implementing stronger security controls.

Continuous training: The best way for organizations to have a through understanding of the most common and upcoming cyber threats is to have every employee undergo cyber awareness training. Recent research from Proofpoint has found that nearly all cyber attacks require human action (such as clicking on a link) in order to be executed. Even if an organization has the most secure tools in their infrastructure, it only takes one employee clicking on the wrong link to let a hacker into the network. If employees understand their role in keeping an organization safe, they will be able to better respond to threats like social engineering and phishing. Organizations should also refresh employees on their own security policies and procedures to help harden their security posture.

Implementing data protection: In the event of a cybersecurity incident, organizations will need to be able to protect and recover important data. Prioritizing critical assets and regularly backing up the data will help preserve important documents in the event they are accidentally deleted or lost. Backing up data consistently will ensure that the latest copy of important documents are saved. Automated, scheduled backups make data backup an easy process. Data recovery is also an important aspect of an organization’s business continuity plan.