Companies are confronted with the increasingly difficult task of safeguarding their expanded digital estate against rising cyber threats. Previously, they'd implement security processes based on the physical network boundary, which was limited to their official premises.
Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, companies adopted remote work strategies, which increased their digital real estate and exposed them beyond the boundaries of their physical networks.
Attackers now have a larger surface on which to deploy actions that jeopardise the processes and techniques involved in safeguarding sensitive resources such as data, systems, networks, applications, and even Internet of Things (IoT) environments.
Ransomware, a type of malware that infects files and folders and prevents them from being accessed, is one of the most rapidly growing types of attacks on this newly exposed digital real estate. Attackers demand a ransom (hence the name) from their victims in exchange for a decryption key.
Despite paying a ransom of $812,360 on average, only 61 percent of encrypted data is recovered, according to the 2022 Sophos State of Ransomware report. This demonstrates that, even in the case of ransomware, prevention is always preferable to cure.
Another trend that organisations should be aware of is Shift Left Security (DevOps), which encourages software development and IT operations teams to incorporate security into the development process as early as possible.
DevOps teams must collaborate to identify threats before they occur and to build safeguards within digital environments, rather than dealing with them later on in the systems.
As businesses expand their digital footprint, they must consider the security of their Internet of Things and Operational Technology (IoT/OT) environments that provide fertile ground for malicious actors to attack due to a large number of potential weak points.
They must consider the security of both the devices connected via IoT and the hardware and software points.
For security-conscious organisations, the drive for better cyber security should begin with hiring the right people for the job.
Once the right team is in place, organisations can begin to improve their cyber security by identifying and sealing loopholes, as well as rebuilding their security infrastructure to weave throughout their systems and applications. This not only prevents attackers from entering but also provides safeguards if malicious actors manage to breach the external security features.
In summary, organisations cannot afford to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to best practices in cyber security, given their increasing reliance on digital tools for day-to-day operations. When it comes to cyber security, organisations mustprioritise prevention over cure.
Mr Wesonga is a senior product manager, Cloud Security Engineering at Microsoft