Preventing Data Breaches with Continuous Security Validation

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Read more about author Ashok Sharma.

Data breaches in the U.S. are on the rise, with millions of individuals impacted: According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, the number of data breaches from January to September 2021 (1,291) exceeded the number of attacks during all of 2020 (1,108).

It’s possible that number is even higher because many companies often don’t disclose data breaches.

Most organizations nowadays have an arsenal of tools that guard and mitigate different cyber threats, including email filters, honeypots, firewalls, antivirus, and more.  

Why are data breaches even happening?

Data breaches rely on vulnerabilities within networks – even the well-protected ones. 

Organizations tend to be overconfident in security systems and protocols, without assessing if they work as they’re supposed to. 

One way to assess your system and confirm it’s effective is with continuous security validation. 

Let’s dive into what continuous security validation is, what can we can take away from the latest breaches, and how continuous security validation prevents data breaches.

What Is Continuous Security Validation?

Continuous security validation is a multi-faceted method that scans for weaknesses in a security system. It consists of multiple processes and tools that rigorously and consistently test the security of an organization.

To test the network for vulnerabilities, it approaches the assessment as a hacker would. To verify security from an adversary’s perspective, it utilizes data from real data breaches. 

This method employs the recent techniques and attacks that have been mapped in the MITRE ATTACK Framework

The MITRE ATTACK resource is continually growing and being updated to contain the latest tactics and cybercriminal behavior. It helps predict how a hacker would infiltrate the network to obtain data, as well as where they would be headed once they’re in your system.

Continuous security validation is more than just a scan. It uses multiple tools to test the network. One of them is Breach and Attack Simulation (BAS). 

This method includes simulation of an attack in a safe environment to test how a security system would hold up against a real data breach.

What Can We Learn from Previous Data Breaches?

If we examine the major and recent data breaches, we can deduct that: 

  • Companies often don’t disclose data breaches
  • Common targets are financial, professional, medical sectors, and government 
  • Cloud structures are especially prone to data breach attacks 

Most organizations aren’t forthcoming about their data breaches and avoid sharing details that elaborate on what caused them.

Laws of the state within which the business operates govern whether there is a requirement to disclose this information and how an organization is going to respond to a data breach.

If we compare the most damaging attacks that have been headlining in the news lately, common targets and vulnerabilities emerge as well.

Social media, financial institutions, and health care have been common targets of data breaches.

Most data breaches occurred because of misconfigurations, vulnerabilities within the cloud technology used for data storage, or human error.

How Does Continuous Security Validation Prevent Data Breaches? 

Cybercriminals seek flaws within the system through which information is exchanged. Once they pinpoint weaknesses in the system, they exploit them to get into the network and steal data that they withhold, often to demand ransom

Considering that businesses are aware of the repercussions of data breaches, which go beyond finances and affect their integrity and brand trust, they pay the ransom. 

Continuous security validation assesses security tools and systems that already protect your network. The goal is to find any vulnerabilities before hackers have a chance to exploit them to get into your system and threaten to leak data.

This assessment is slowly replacing expensive point-in-time methods that sporadically evaluate your network.

Unlike the traditional point-in-time method, security validation is set to automatically scan for any vulnerabilities within the system.

Point-in-time includes annual or biannual assessment because businesses can’t afford more testing of this type. Continuous security automatically checks security points all year round for a much lower price.

Continuous security validation also consistently and rigorously scans and verifies that tools perform as they should.

Finally, it leaves the companies with a report that showcases whether their systems are operating correctly or if they need to improve their security.

When Was the Last Time You Assessed Your Security?

Clients, customers, and employees trust businesses with data every day, and they want to know that their sensitive information is safe.

A crucial mistake that many businesses make is that they set up strong security systems and have a variety of tools that can mitigate damaging attacks, but they don’t verify or test them.

A continuous security assessment is a cost-effective and automated way to verify that there are no vulnerabilities within your network.

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