The threat landscape for CISOs and business leaders who are endeavoring to keep their operations safe from cybercrime does not remain static. Attacks are evolving fast and becoming ever more sophisticated as threat actors attempt to access assets, financial information, and funds.
Businesses at the forefront of technological advancements, leveraging innovation to drive efficiency and deliver enhanced customer experiences are unfortunately those likely at increased risk of cybercrime. Threats can originate from cyber criminals or nation-states.
According to figures published by Verizon in its 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report, 83% of breaches involved external actors, with the majority being financially motivated, and the most frequent ways in which attackers access an organization are stolen credentials, phishing and exploitation of vulnerabilities. IBM’s 2023 Security X Force Threat Intelligence Index, reported that phishing was the leading infection vector, used in 41% of attacks.
In the face of this onslaught, businesses count the costs: lost revenue, interruption of service and reputational damage. It has been estimated that the cost of cybercrime – including destruction of data, lost productivity, restoration of systems and reputational harm – could climb to USD 10.5 trillion by 2025.
Threats from friends inside, and outside the business
As well as the dangers posed by cybercriminals, insider threats pose a significant risk to businesses. Employees or contractors with authorized access to sensitive systems can misuse their privileges or inadvertently expose data due to negligence.
To guard against these risks, businesses must implement strict access controls, segregation of duties, and ongoing monitoring to detect and mitigate insider threats. Regular employee training and awareness programs can also help foster a security-conscious culture within the organization.
Threats too can come from partners and peers outside the organization. Businesses often rely on third-party vendors and partners to support various aspects of their operations. However, this dependency introduces additional cyber security risks.
Cyber attackers may exploit vulnerabilities in third-party systems to gain unauthorized access or compromise shared data. To mitigate these risks, businesses must implement rigorous vendor risk management programs, conduct due diligence assessments, and establish strong contractual agreements that enforce stringent security requirements.
A fine balance
Organizations must strike a delicate balance between being early adopters of innovative technologies and achieving digital transformation; and implementing robust cyber security measures to safeguard critical systems, protect customer data, and maintain trust in the digital ecosystem.
They must also make informed decisions about how to deploy their budget, and their talent and resources in terms of a focus on proactive horizon scanning for new risks versus continuous monitoring, threat detection, and incident response. There is a growing understanding that even the best reactive mitigation measures are not enough without well-planned proactive measures.
The power of proactivity
Many organizations are now seeing the value in taking a more proactive approach to cyber security and as such are investing in specialist threat intelligence. A robust threat intelligence system can cross-correlate information from around the world to provide timely reports and advance notifications of specific threat actors, as well as the types of attacks that are likely.
This sophisticated work is often outsourced to specialists because it is expensive and time-consuming and does not fall within the core specialism of the business. The best intelligence is pinpoint rather than broad brush. It is tailored to a high degree, in order to identify threats that are specific to a business’s region or even country, and to its sector. As well as being relevant it must be actionable, in order to deliver a good return on investment.
By employing proactive threat intelligence alongside attack modeling, simulations and analysis of where vulnerabilities lie, organizations can be prepared to address potential breaches promptly, minimizing the impact on operations and customer trust.
All this said, even the best threat intelligence cannot identify every attack before it happens, and businesses must understand is that it should be deployed in addition to a good basic level of cyber security, not instead of it.