On Guard: Rising Threats Require Constant Vigilance

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Assigned to guard Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865, Washington D.C. policeman John Frederick Parker stayed at his post for only a short while before joining Lincoln’s valet and coachman for drinks at a nearby tavern. You know the rest of the story.

It’s one of history’s more tragic reminders that vigilance isn’t a part-time job.

While network security threats rarely represent a national calamity, the near-constant rate of attacks is forcing organizations to remain on high alert. According to a University of Maryland study, there are more than 2,200 cyberattacks every day — about one every 39 seconds.

But no matter how vigilant your IT team is, it isn’t humanly possible to identify, analyze and respond to every potential threat in real time. In fact, security pros are regularly overwhelmed by the sheer number of security alerts they must monitor and evaluate. In one recent survey, 99 percent said they get more security alerts than they can possibly investigate.

Nevertheless, early detection remains essential for minimizing the damage from escalating threats. That’s why more organizations are implementing continuous security monitoring (CSM) tools to keep a close watch on their networks.

CSM automates security monitoring across a company’s entire IT environment by applying artificial intelligence to evaluate security information and event management (SIEM) alerts, security event logs and threat intelligence data. It can provide organizations with real-time updates and verify compliance requirements for all data, whether residing on local servers, branch offices, distant data centers, virtual environments or in the cloud.

This type of visibility is more important than ever. With mass numbers of remote and hybrid workers connecting to the corporate network and cloud resources, most organizations have seen their attack surface expand dramatically over the past two years. CSM tools will detect devices as soon as they attempt to connect to the network and classify them by type, ownership and operating system — enabling preventive measures before any damage is done.

Continuous monitoring also helps organizations ensure they aren’t overlooking a host of other potential vulnerabilities such as:

  • Open ports. Open firewall ports enable devices, applications and services to communicate across the Internet, but they can also provide hackers with a way to infiltrate a system. Monitoring and managing ports can be an extremely time-consuming process in large networks where new devices and services are constantly being added. CSM reduces the workload by constantly scanning ports. With that visibility, your team can close ports that aren’t explicitly required for network services and apply filtering policies to limit traffic on ports that are being used.
  • Email vulnerabilities. Analysts say email is the No. 1 delivery mechanism for ransomware, malicious attachments, malicious URLs, viruses and phishing attacks. CSM can monitor email header data, message attributes and sender addresses to identify potential threats.
  • Credential abuse. Employee passwords and credentials may have been exposed during third-party data breaches. CSM can detect and respond to unusual activity that might indicate an ongoing attack. This includes numerous login attempts from the same source or single attempts to log into many different accounts.
  • Misconfigurations. According to one recent study, three-quarters of organizations have at least one critical configuration error that could expose sensitive data in cloud storage buckets, GitHub repositories, Rsnyc and FTP servers, and more. CSM constantly scans and alerts for misconfigurations.

Increased reliance on cloud, mobile, edge and wireless technologies to support remote and hybrid workforces substantially expands the typical organization’s attack surface. Ensuring the safety and privacy of digital assets requires organizations to maintain a high level of vigilance. Contact us to learn more about using continuous security monitoring to automate many of your critical security tasks.

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