With the sharp increase in remote working worldwide, companies have endured a proliferation of cybersecurity risks — and, consequently, increased their spending to protect stakeholders. One factor that influences the level of corporate cybersecurity, and your effectiveness in mitigating cybersecurity threats, is the proper deployment of reactive and proactive cybersecurity measures.
Cybersecurity measures are the set of activities, processes, or strategies aimed at reducing cybersecurity risk within an organization. They can include everything from the deployment of firewalls within the IT environment to planning cybersecurity awareness programs, and much more.
You can take either a reactive or proactive approach to protect your business from risks. More accurately, you can take both reactive and proactive measures at the same time. Therefore, striking the correct balance of reactive and proactive cybersecurity measures can more efficiently reduce the risk of cyberattacks and other cybersecurity threats.
Why You Should Be Proactive in Your Security Measures
Proactive security measures are all processes and activities performed periodically and continuously within the organization, focused on identifying and eliminating vulnerabilities within the network infrastructure, preventing security breaches, and evaluating the effectiveness of the business security posture in real-time.
Reactive measures, in contrast, only respond to a cybersecurity event that has happened. Reactive measures do aim to mitigate an attack’s harm on the organization, but as the name implies, they are reacting to an event. Proactive measures seek to prevent cyberattacks from occurring in the first place.
Examples of proactive cybersecurity measures include:
- Developing and updating firewalls within the IT environment
- Periodically assessing systems for vulnerabilities or malware
- Educating employees about cybersecurity awareness
- Hiring ethical hackers to perform penetration testing within the company
While successfully dealing with a cyber incident is an essential part of an effective cybersecurity policy, not all measures can be focused on just that. Developing a proactive cybersecurity strategy assures that the organization is not solely dependent on reactive measures. They reduce the overall risk landscape of the organization and minimize cybersecurity expenses in the long run.
When combined with proper reactive risk management, a proactive security strategy supports the effectiveness of reactive measures. By minimizing the number of cybersecurity incidents with proactive measures, the incident response team is able to react to and address inescapable or unexpected cyber threats without delay.
Especially for information security, proactive risk mitigation measures are necessary to meet the data protection standards required by regulations such as the European Union’s GDPR privacy rule. Many proactive measures minimize the risk of data breaches, which bolsters your overall GDPR compliance.
In a constantly changing cybersecurity environment, processes to test and improve security barriers are essential to address latent and zero-day threats that appear with every new update or operating system. Cybercriminals are always finding new ways to overcome security barriers, so proper and regular maintenance is imperative.
Developing a Proactive Cybersecurity Plan
Although proactive cybersecurity measures should be tailored to the needs of each company and its network infrastructure, several best practices can serve as a starting point. These efforts will strengthen your network security as you develop an effective proactive security strategy in the face of never-ending cyber threats.
Threat Hunting and Penetration Testing
In the cybersecurity world, not every threat is easily visible. Even after an initial infection, it may take months for companies to identify an issue. Threat hunting focuses on assessing the vulnerabilities of an IT environment, identifying the high-value information on servers and the weakest spots within the system.
These processes rely on ethical hackers, as well as penetration tests throughout the organization, to compile a comprehensive assessment of attack surfaces, attack vectors, immediate threats, and vulnerabilities. These activities lead to an action plan to strengthen the company’s cybersecurity systems and develop reactive security measures for potential and unavoidable risks.
Endpoint and Network Monitoring
An effective proactive cybersecurity strategy focuses on periodic monitoring of the organization’s IT infrastructure. There are automated programs that identify suspicious activity and dangerous patterns to alert and isolate potential threats until the security team takes appropriate action.
This monitoring is essential, both on the general network and on the company’s endpoints. Supported by antivirus software and removable device restrictions, endpoints are the access points to the organization’s network, and their protection can reduce network risks substantially.
Cybersecurity Awareness Program
Most cyber-attacks directly result from human error, so reducing human vulnerabilities within the enterprise is a priority in any proactive security strategy. With periodic employee training on cybersecurity awareness, it’s possible to minimize the risk of phishing attacks and, consequently, a variety of risks linked to the inexperience of employees — especially in areas of customer service, with digital lines of communication open to the public.
ZenGRC is a Key Part of Your Cybersecurity Plan
It’s challenging to cover all risk management measures on your own. ZenGRC’s software-as-a-service compliance platform provides instant visibility into the effectiveness of your corporate risk management policies.
ZenGRC’s user-friendly dashboards show you at a glance which risks need to be mitigated and how to do so. You can also manage workflows, gather and store documents required for audits, and much more.
Our innovative software comes with over a dozen compliance frameworks, allowing you to map your risks and controls across the standards and identify gaps.
Schedule a demo today to learn more about the benefits of ZenGRC.