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Tips for building and maintaining a cyber-readiness framework

Mar 08, 20234 mins

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Now more than ever, it’s essential for companies to have a cyber response framework in place long before an attack happens. The cyber threat landscape is constantly evolving, with familiar attack tactics like ransomware, phishing, and credential abuse and theft becoming more sophisticated and destructive. Meanwhile, organizations are increasingly pursuing digital transformation efforts, leaving their security teams to grapple with the implications—like an expanded attack surface—that inevitably come with these changes.

The roles that security leaders and their teams play in an organization are growing more complex each day. With over two thirds of organizations having already been a target of ransomware, it’s not a matter of “if” your business will fall victim to a cyber incident, but “when.”

In post-attack investigations, several key themes often emerge, such as missed alerts and warnings, product misconfigurations, and nonexistent security best practices—often resulting from staff and skill-set shortages. By establishing and maintaining processes to address these issues, your team will be better prepared to mitigate an attack.

Following a “prepare, maintain, detect and automatically (as much as possible) respond” formula will help ensure your team and organization can respond and mitigate early and in a short timeframe when under attack. But how does one effectively execute this formula?

Just as a sports team will spend hours learning their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, perfecting themselves as individuals and as a team, and practicing before playing in a championship game, your team should have a thorough understanding of how you’ll collectively respond to a cyber incident and who’ll be responsible for which tasks long before an attack occurs.

Establish and maintain critical processes

1.     Keep devices updated

Maintain your technology through frequent updates and regular patching. One of your first steps should be to ensure each technology is running the latest operating system (OS), as OS updates often include new features and capabilities from the vendor to counter emerging threats or unique exposures.

2.    Invest in cybersecurity awareness training

Make time for training. Your analysts must have the most up-to-date knowledge related to the technologies the organization uses and the processes between systems and teams. They also need to refresh their understanding of the evolving threat landscape regularly.   

3.    Leverage a third-party security provider

For many security teams, the burden of day-to-day activities makes this level of preparation difficult to achieve. Most teams are stretched so thin that it’s easy to de-prioritize the strategic planning for a preemptive and proactive stance against ransomware or other threats in favor of tactical work.

This is precisely why many organizations choose to work with a third-party security provider to help them prepare. A trusted vendor can conduct a security assessment and carry out readiness exercises, such as full attack simulations and tabletop exercises, to support you in adjusting your processes in response and mitigation as they work with and coach your team. Bringing in fresh perspectives from outside your organization can help you identify and fix process gaps faster and facilitate new ideas and unique solutions.  

4.    Utilize automation

Automate as much as possible. Even if you’re not currently utilizing automation, look for repetitive tasks and processes that may potentially benefit from it. Research shows that organizations with fully deployed artificial intelligence (AI) and automation had a shorter breach cycle and saved $3M more than those without.  

Lay the foundation for future success

By preparing in advance—including assessing your response playbooks and then adjusting and maintaining your processes—you will reduce the chances of missteps happening when an actual incident occurs. The team will also be able to respond faster to contain the incident so that the organization can more quickly resume normal operations.

While taking a proactive approach goes a long way in setting your team up for a successful response, remember that this can’t be a “set it and forget it” activity. Engage a third party to help pressure test your plans and processes periodically, ensuring they’re still adequate as the organization—and your security posture—evolves. The more planning and preparation you do today will help maintain the resilience of your ever-changing network for years to come.

Learn more about how Fortinet’s team of cybersecurity experts can help you enhance, automate, and outsource critical security functions to keep your organization secure.