When a security breach occurs or a threat is detected, what’s your standard protocol? Is it an all-hands-on-deck fire drill or more methodical, based on a security-first approach and security testing? If it’s a struggle to answer these questions, it’s probably time to improve your organization’s security posture — let’s take a look at where to begin.
Security posture: What it is and why it matters
Simply put, security posture is a barometer for how security engaged your organization is and your level of preparedness when an attack occurs or a vulnerability is identified. It generally includes internal processes, response plans and automated vulnerability detection tools that correlate an incident with severity of risk to facilitate quick reactions, remediation and recovery efforts. Security posture can also be used to measure the degree of visibility (through a security lens) across your entire technology estate — including the parts you don’t own.
With malicious actors constantly exploiting vulnerabilities, sensitive data is continually at risk. As a result, it’s imperative to assess and strengthen security initiatives regularly to safeguard the organization. Those with strong security postures have leaders that prioritize security as a baseline commitment to delivering flawless and secure digital user experiences and ensuring the right tools are in place to protect applications and the business.
Seven steps to improve your security posture
1. Perform a security assessment
Completing a risk assessment such as this framework from the United States government, helps organizations analyze, assess and prioritize risks to determine how to respond and which tools will help. Going through this type of exercise will enable you to set a baseline from which security-first roadmaps that strategically elevate awareness and posture across the organization can be developed.
2. Develop an incident management plan
An incident management plan will determine steps to take after a breach is detected and help reduce the time it takes to remediate it in the future. Knowing which teams will take on certain responsibilities will bolster better communication and improve collaboration. Carrying out a test breach to measure the effectiveness of your incident management plan will help set benchmarks for refinement and strengthening over time.
3. Prioritize by business impact
After determining risks and vulnerabilities you’re facing, patching and remediating are the next steps. Save time and cost by prioritizing risks on business-critical apps, first. Once a process for risk assessment is developed, taking action to fix, managing time and efforts will become more efficient.
4. Implement a DevSecOps practice
Waiting to conduct security audits until the end of a quarter allows ample time for attacks and breaches. By implementing a testing method, security can be baked into the daily application monitoring routine:
- Static application security testing (SAST): Examines code to help identify vulnerabilities.
- Dynamic application security testing (DAST): Gives admins the perspective of an attacker to help identify gaps and vulnerabilities.
- Interactive application security testing (IAST): Combines SAST and DAST to use software instrumentation (active or passive) to monitor application performance.
- Runtime application self-protection (RASP): Uses real-time app data to detect and remediate attacks as they occur.
5. Break down silos
Organizations with siloed IT teams often lack good communication which can increase the probability of negative outcomes during a threat event. Fostering a collaborative culture helps technologists understand how each team is affected before, during and after a breach. Shifting to a DevSecOps policy where security is involved at the beginning of app development helps ensure communication across teams and reinforces a culture of collaboration.
6. Automate threat detection and remediation
The volume of data housed within modern applications makes it nearly impossible for admins to stay ahead of all possible threats. Thus, relying solely on the admin leaves tremendous room for human error across inescapable gaps within app security. RASP helps automate threat detection by building security into an application, enabling it to automatically recognize and remediate threats without human intervention.
7. Make regular updates as needed
In order to maintain a strong security posture, tools and practices have to be updated regularly and improved for optimal results. Security teams should make changes as new advancements in security technology and modern threats evolve. Scheduling updates and reassessments regularly help to ensure bad actors don’t take advantage of outdated technologies.
Keeping cybersecurity top of mind during code release cycles will create an added layer of defense against threats and breaches. Visit Cisco Secure Application for more information on the benefits of automating application monitoring and security.