Catching up with the evolving rules of cybersecurity

By Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Intel

Cyber threats are becoming more potent by the minute. How can organisations ensure that their security defences can win the race when up against these dangers?

With cyber threats constantly evolving, how can organisations keep up? Zero trust frameworks, data protection and good security management may be a good start. Image: Canva

News platforms never seem to run out of headlines on data breaches. From profit-seeking hackers to malicious actors seeking to create social or political instability, organisations are increasingly vulnerable to cyber threats.

For instance, a ransomware attack in May hit one of the United States’ largest oil pipelines, resulting in a temporary shortage of fuel that forced President Joe Biden to declare a state of emergency.

But while organisations are ramping up security defences, hackers are simultaneously polishing their knives and finding new areas of vulnerability in the system to target. How can organisations ensure that they can be a step ahead of these threats and ensure that their networks and data are constantly protected?

Evolving cybersecurity threats


Organisations are struggling to catch up to cyber threats that are evolving and multiplying at the minute.

Ponemon Institute defines this as the IT security gap, which is the “inability of an organisation’s people, processes, and technologies to keep up with a constantly changing threat landscape.” Without the right tools and expertise to detect threats and patch them in time, organisations remain helpless to mitigate their vulnerability.

The main obstacle to closing the security gap is the lack of security staff with the skills needed to prevent data breaches, with 52 per cent of organisations surveyed by the Institute reflecting that. Even when organisations rely on external security tools, these tools need to be adapted to the IT infrastructure. For instance, security measures protecting on-premise data may not work with the cloud.

The second obstacle is the difficulty of protecting the complex and changing attack surfaces, which refer to the possible points through which an unauthorised user can access a system and retrieve data. The rise in hybrid working has exacerbated the organisation’s vulnerability to attacks. When employees are working from home and using their own laptops or networks, organisations lack visibility and control of all the devices connected to their IT infrastructure.

Adopting a zero trust security framework


While organisations might traditionally focus on strengthening the system to keep cyber threats outside, this strategy might be increasingly limited with more employees connecting remotely and adopting hybrid work patterns. Relying solely on the assumption that these defences remain infallible might be risky.

When traditional ways of securing data are lacking, organisations need to seek new approaches. Many are bolstering their security by adopting a zero trust security framework. The Singapore Cybersecurity Strategy 2021, for instance, advocates for a mindset shift away from perimeter defence and towards a zero-trust security model in its approach to securing disruptive technologies, critical infrastructure, and government applications and systems.

Instead of just strengthening security measures to defend the organisation’s network from hackers, a zero-trust framework assumes that everything has been compromised. The principle is simple: Trust nothing, unless proven otherwise. This ensures that the security defences are constantly a step ahead of possible threats.

According to the Ponemon Institute report, 48 per cent of respondents believe that attacks that have entered the network are likely to do the greatest damage. Hence, there is a need to prevent that from the onset. A zero trust security framework takes on a proactive, rather than reactive approach toward security, allowing organisations to detect cyberattacks and prevent intrusions before they occur.

An example of how zero trust security can be embedded in the organisation’s security infrastructure is in HPE Project Aurora , which is inbuilt with a zero trust security framework that ensures all levels of the system can be verified automatically. It builds a secure chain right from the hardware to the data created and used in applications.

For example, the system is secured with a cryptographically secured signature. If a hacker inserts a virus or malicious code in the firmware, the configuration of the firmware has been modified. The system can detect the mismatch and flag it within seconds.

Continuous data protection


Data is increasingly distributed across complex and dispersed IT environments, which means that organisations need data protection across all levels. In compliance with security regulations, some organisations might store sensitive data on-premises, while moving less sensitive data to the cloud to allow for quicker access. Hence, they need a way to protect data on both sites easily.

HPE GreenLake’s data protection service provides consistent protection of data on-premises or in the cloud with features such as data immutability, which prevents others from changing or deleting it easily. Furthermore, it automatically safeguards data with encrypted backups, which makes it inaccessible to hackers. Dual authorisation, which requires two different users to authorise access to data, provides organisations additional security and control over data.

The banking sector, for instance, is often vulnerable to data theft and compromises as it deals with sensitive information and high-value financial transactions. To secure its data, Electronic Payment Services, a financial services provider that serves multiple public sector banks in India, relies on HPE GreenLake’s security capabilities, such as data encryption at rest and in transit. This eliminates any possibilities for cyberattackers to access or manipulate the data, which may contain critical information about the users’ finances.

In addition to securing data, HPE GreenLake allows organisations to back up and recover data in preparation for potential cyberattacks. This process happens around the clock, meaning that organisations can easily recover their data within seconds if an attack were to occur. This solves the main problem of traditional backup methods, where the data is only captured in periodic snapshots. Organisations can be assured that they will not be vulnerable to permanent data losses or be forced to pay hefty sums due to ransomware attacks.

Improving security management


Improving security management can be done through a human-centred approach as well. Organisations can focus on upskilling the security team and equipping them with the skills needed to adapt to a more challenging cyber environment.

Beyond technological tools, expert management services can also help to support the organisation’s cybersecurity efforts. HPE’s GreenLake offers management services that include security monitoring and vulnerability management, plugging essential security gaps that might be easily overlooked. It also provides support and training to organisations by leveraging their security expertise.

For instance, security analysts will help to monitor threats, detect incidents, and take recovery and follow-up actions when needed. In Oceania, a large, government-owned port relied on HPE’s help to analyse cybersecurity threats, advise them if they were at risk, and perform the work needed to keep them secure.

The additional support lifts the burden off the IT team’s shoulders by giving them the peace of mind that the cyber assets are safe. From being preoccupied with maintaining the most fundamental security features and vying to catch up to the pace of cybersecurity threats, the team is now free to unleash its creativity and innovate.

In an age of digital transformation, data is playing a greater role in fuelling the organisation’s activities and innovation. Running in parallel to this trend is the importance of having a robust cybersecurity strategy to minimise the risks faced. Through adopting a zero trust security framework, ensuring constant data protection and backup, and adopting best security technologies, organisations can win the race against malicious cyber threats.

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