Modernising your Cybersecurity Playbook

A few weeks back I was asked by cybersecurity vendor Acronis to present at their “Modernising your Cybersecurity Playbook” event (You can still catch the on-demand recording here). Perhaps, like me, when you hear playbook you think of sport, which got me wondering, how can I work a sports analogy into Cyber Security!? The answer was to ask what did these sporting stars from 2020/21 have in common?

In this case it was that they achieved success with a modern playbook, one designed for today’s challenges and opponents.

What does this have to do with Cyber Security?

Let me share with you what I covered at this event.

Often the issue when a company has a security incident is not that they have not taken security seriously but more that they have failed to update their cybersecurity approach, they are still tackling the challenges of 2015 and wondering why the threats of 2021 are defeating them. A bit like Lewis Hamilton driving 2015’s car and wondering why everyone passes him!

Why don’t the approaches that served us well then, work now? While cybersecurity risks are not new the landscape we operate in and the style of the threat has evolved greatly and this dictates that our security stack and approach must change too.

If we look at our own business evolution over the last 5 years, none of us would argue it’s changed we are almost entirely digital, relying on IT systems more than ever, embracing cloud-like approaches as we demand access to our systems, anytime, anyplace from any device and data is at the heart of our activity, it’s how we make decisions, work with partners and customers and is driving our business outcomes. Add to this the impact of COVID which has accelerated much of this beyond what we had expected, forcing many businesses to have massively distributed workforces, shifting our users out of their comfort zone and making them more susceptible to the cyber threat.

Not only has our environment evolved so has our “bad actor” opponent. Their focus is our data, stealing it or making it impossible to access. Their tools? Malicious code that can exfiltrate data from our systems, or as with ransomware, make it unusable. Attack vectors are changing with a massive rise in identity theft using ever more sophisticated phishing attacks to gain access to our systems and make their jobs easier. It is not just external threats with the continued rise of the insider threat, disgruntled employees, or those moving on to pastures new who think our enterprise’s intellectual property is theirs to take with them. All of this in a world of ever more stringent regulatory demands that squarely put the focus on our businesses to ensure our data remains secure and private.

How then do we deal with this threat? How do we modernise our security playbook to ensure that we have a strategy to take on the challenges of 2021 and beyond?

I believe there are four areas to consider.

  1. Realise you are a target whether specifically or not. The cybercriminal today works at scale, attacking millions of businesses to find one user who clicks a link, or incorrectly shares details because one is all it takes to make it worthwhile. The best advice here, assume breach, assume the bad actor is already in.
  2. Get the basics right and ensure you have a good base security posture, password hygiene, patching regimes and that your AV and anti-malware is not only up to date, but you are maintaining your support subscriptions.
  3. Educate your staff, too often the enterprise sees its users as a threat rather than embracing them as our best line of security defence. To do this we need to inform them of the security risk and develop a culture where cybersecurity is a primary focus.
  4. Put data at the core by evolving our thinking, data is a major business asset, but only if we can use it securely and maintain governance and control wherever it resides.

I believe with these 4 tenants at the heart of your security strategy you can develop a modern security playbook that will help you defend your business from today’s threat and allow you to lift your own Cyber Security winner’s trophy.

Please feel free to share your own cybersecurity experiences and modernisation ideas in the comments below, because the more we can help each other, the better all of our security posture will be.

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