Three Pillars of Cyber Attack and Defence

Cyber Attacks are on the rise thanks to advances in technology, the human skillset and the lack of (or ineffective) business processes.

We’ve all heard the latest news about cyber attacks on small, medium and large organisations, the big push on cyber security and more recently GDPR. But overall what does this all mean? Is it good enough to assume you’ll be safe? Or should we just accept that it’s not a case of ‘if’, but rather ‘when’ will it happen?

With the best will in the world a cyber attack cannot always be stopped. There are too many factors at play and that’s why MMRIT have developed the ‘Three Pillars of Cyber Attack and Defence’ approach.

Overhauling their current cyber security provisioning and launching a suite of cyber services, MMRIT have outlined the most appropriate services required to help protect an organisation from potential cyber attack.

The Three Pillars of Cyber Attack

If we break down the Three Pillars of Cyber Attack approach consisting of People, Processes and Technology, we begin to understand why cyber attacks can be successful. These three areas are more often than not complex in organisations, usually disjointed and not always aligned. Aligning all three areas provides businesses with a more secure defence.

Here’s why:

  • People – human error is known to account for almost 90% of all cyber attacks. This figure in itself is astronomical and can be devastating for organisations. The first action point with ‘People’ or ‘Employees’ is to educate them. Implementing a basic cyber security training programme can have a significant impact. Cyber security training should be aimed at all people across the business to give them a basic understanding of how to keep themselves, other people, the data and systems they have access to safe at all times. It starts with generic practices such as tailgating, putting unauthorised USB sticks into Internet of Things (IoT) devices right the way through to spotting a phishing attack and ransomware. Whichever level you or your employee is at the cyber security awareness training should give everyone a clear understanding.

 

  • Processes – many organisations have processes in place but how many people know what they are? For example, if your manager called you and asked for your password to access your work systems would you give it? Would you handover your personal details to a stranger? The answer to all of these questions should be NO if it’s not already obvious. Lack of processes or processes that are not enforced lead to chaos. Think about hearing the fire alarm at work. Everyone knows they should immediately evacuate the building as quickly and safely as possible but does everyone know what to do if they think their account has been breached? Failure to respond rapidly can lead to the damage becoming more severe. The Tesco Bank cyber attack in 2016 was successful due to not acting upon a fraud alert and for failing to deal with the scale of the event in a timely and appropriate manner leading to them being fined £16.4 million.

 

  • Technology – the majority of devices we use on a day-to-day basis are Internet of Things (IoT) enabled. This means that without you even raising it your data is being passed back and forth to servers over the internet that is collecting data on your user habits etc. Think about this in terms of your work laptop or mobile phone. What would you do if you lost it? Can you or your company remotely wipe the data? Do you have a Mobile Device Management (MDM) policy in place to manage this? Do you encrypt data? All these are questions that should be considered right across the organisation.

Alignment is Key

Regardless of whether you’re a small or large organisation, your people (staff awareness and training), processes (company policies) and technology (usage, encryption, data backup and security) should all be aligned. Failure to align and integrate your operations across all three pillars leads to weaknesses in your organisation.

We’ve outlined the three pillars and how when aligned they effectively ‘close the gap’ on successful cyber attacks.

Looking closely at these overlapping and aligned pillars, MMRIT have designed their cyber security services around these to provide organisations with expertise in the areas where they need them.

In most cases this often starts of with a Security and Audit Mitigation review, along with a GAP analysis. This identifies where you are now and where vulnerabilities lay.

Looking at the alignment between People and Processes we look at Phishing and Staff Awareness training. This educational programme is designed to mitigate human-error based cyber attacks.

The alignment between Processes and Technology involves a Security Audit and Mitigation review, Virtual SOC that analyses security events and takes immediate action to block attacks, and finally a Security System Design to ensure your infrastructure is fit for purpose.

The final alignment is between Technology and People. Here we look at managing people and technology through firewalls, anti-virus protection and mobile device management. These are designed to help overcome some human error or misjudgements and potential flaws in the technology such as regular updates and patch management.

All of this has been illustrated below.

Three Pillars of Cyber Attack and Defence
MMRIT: Three Pillars of Cyber Attack and Defence

Defence

By combining all three elements you can effectively defend yourself against most common cyber attacks but that doesn’t mean your work is done. Remember: as technology advances so do the risks of exploitation and vulnerabilites along with the hackers becoming more sophisticated in their approach too.

Keep training employees with refresher courses, continually review your processes and learn from mistakes by improving and refining them as you grow, and keep all technology up-to-date with the latest virus definitions, restrict access to data and systems and keep data encrypted and backed up.

Next Steps

To review your current environment or to kick-start an informal chat of where we can help you, call us. We can advise you on things you may not have even considered or provide the assurance you need to roll out security changes.

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