Don't Let Yourself Fall Below the Security Poverty Line
Most of us have heard of the poverty line before. Falling below the poverty line is when life gets extremely difficult and you largely have to live at the mercy of others. Anyone who has ever come close to this line usually works as hard as possible to change their trajectory ASAP.
Poverty lines exist elsewhere in life, not just where money is concerned. Another extremely important one is called the security poverty line. For the sake of your business, you need to make sure your company never gets anywhere near it.
What Is the Security Poverty Line?
Unlike the financial poverty line, the security poverty line doesn’t have an objective measurement. Instead, we’re talking about a concept. Below the security poverty line is where you’ll find companies that lack the minimum requirement for fending off an opportunistic adversary. Just like how those below the financial poverty line are one unlucky scenario away from being ruined or unable to afford basic necessities, companies below the security poverty line are essentially waiting to get taken down by an attack.
The comparisons to financial viability don’t end there though. There’s also the idea of technical debt. This refers to the long term consequences that come from postponing important system updates. Most of us accumulate debt by taking out loans or using our credit cards excessively. For some, this becomes enough of a problem that it forces them below the financial poverty line. If you continuously put necessary updates on tomorrow’s tab, the same will happen to your security status.
Why Do Businesses Fall Below It?
Businesses can fall below the security poverty level for a number of reasons. However, a big one is simply ignorance. We know that, in most cases, those who fall below the poverty line never made it very high above it in the first place. Usually, their parents didn’t serve as great examples of how to manage one’s finances. Therefore, they never had much of an education in how to avoid poverty.
The same is often true with companies. If the people at the top don’t have a background in cybersecurity, they’re going to need outside help. Failing to seek out this help, they’ll eventually fall below the security poverty line.
That’s just one reason though. When it comes to technical debt, it’s often because money became tight. One update may have been put off for financial reasons, but then the second comes around and the budget hasn’t improved, so it’s delayed. This keeps repeating until, like with actual money, the company basically hits security bankruptcy. It’s also important to remember that not all technical debt is the same, nor is it always easy to compare one update against another. This is where technical debt is much different than its financial cousin.
Putting off just one important update could be enough to invite in cyber intruders. At the same time, another company may be able to ignore this essential task for months or even years before everything comes crashing down.
How Can You Stay Above It?
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to recover if you’ve fallen below the security poverty line. The good news is that you can also use these practices to make sure it never comes to that.
Any factor in your security infrastructure that can be audited should be: everything from user access to network usage to even the operating systems that are being used across your company’s network need to be looked at with scrutiny. If a lapse happens and you figure out what went wrong, you’ll feel very sorry you weren’t auditing constantly because, more than likely, this would’ve stopped the problem before it started.
2) Access Management
Some companies make the mistake of basically giving everyone under their roof administrative access. After all, this makes life so much easier, right? Well, it may seem that way, but in reality, this is how you can plummet below the security poverty line practically overnight. Instead, the fewer people with privileges, the better. Treat it like your credit card. You may trust plenty of people in your life, but you wouldn’t give them all access to your credit card, right? So be safe rather than sorry with administrator access and only provide it to those who absolutely need it to do their jobs.
At the very least, every user needs to have their own sign-in credentials. This is a bare minimum requirement for cybersecurity. Even the smallest of companies should be implementing authentication. Keep in mind that, even if you know and trust every single employee you have, authentication will be hugely helpful. Should a hacker succeed in attacking, this practice will help you track down where that attack came from.
4) Endpoint Security
When setting up a new system, make sure endpoint security is a priority. You want it across the entire network so that you can monitor and manage your system as easily as possible. This means keeping your suites and software as updated as possible. There is no room for putting off these updates and just hoping for the best.
5) Network Segmentation
Segmenting your network is essential, but most companies think that means putting a firewall between it from the Internet. However, if your staff can access, say, the personal storage of your development team, you’re going to be in trouble. One simple mistake from one employee could cause all kinds of collateral damage and that’s the least worrisome scenario.
Staying above the security poverty line is an important way to ensure your company doesn’t falter because of something completely beyond your control. Follow the above advice to ensure cyber attacks remain something you read about, not something you experience.