Thinking Unconventionally — Four Steps to Mitigate Risk

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Taking a conventional approach to security typically refers to “keeping the bad stuff out” of your network, meaning blocking malicious content such as spam, viruses, malware, DDoS attacks, or any number of other common threats. However, if you truly want your organization to be secure in today’s landscape, you also need to proactively assess your security posture and focus on mitigating risk. This will not only reduce the probability of an attack actually happening, but it will also enable the ability to remediate and recover your business quickly in the event of exposure.

So, how do you take this approach?

Mitigate the risk posed by targeted email attacks

Spear phishing and Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks are highly targeted and researched attempts where criminals typically attempt to defraud individuals and lead them to transfer money or share credentials. In these attacks, criminals engage in casual conversation with victims through email in an attempt to gain the users’ trust before actually doing anything malicious. In many cases, criminals gather background information on victims through social media, which helps make their efforts more convincing.

The success criminals are experiencing makes targeted threats one of the highest risk vectors for organizations, in fact the FBI estimates that more than $5 billion has been lost to BEC in recent years. The real challenge for security is that traditional solutions such as email security gateways and anti-virus solutions fail to detect these attempts because the messages don’t contain malicious links or attachments.

In order to mitigate the risk of targeted email attacks, an entirely new approach needs to be taken, and a good place to start is with a solution like Barracuda Sentinel which includes:

  • AI for real-time spear phishing and cyber fraud defense, which provides messaging intelligence to determine with a high degree of accuracy whether an email is part of a spear phishing attack.
  • Domain fraud protection using DMARC authentication to monitor data on your domain, and get actionable insight on legitimate and fraudulent usage of your domain.
  • Fraud simulation training for high risk individuals to periodically and automatically train and test security awareness with simulated attacks.

Mitigate the risk posed by careless or untrained users

Part of mitigating the risk of targeted email attacks means having the ability to provide security training to high risk individuals, but what about users who are either careless or simply untrained? You may recall that in early January, Barracuda acquired PhishLine to help boost our ability to offer social engineering simulation and training? This move is quickly proving to a home run, and is now allowing us to greatly expand our security training capabilities. Combining Barracuda’s AI-driven protection against phishing and spear phishing with PhishLine's platform, gives customers comprehensive defense against email-borne targeted attacks and social engineering. Email remains the most targeted threat vector and one that requires both security technology and the human layer of defense in order to remain secure. PhishLine offers data analytics and reporting to allow customers to measure and report on risks at macro and micro levels across the human and process layers.

DYK: Studies have shown that as many as 86 percent of websites contain at least one serious vulnerability.Click To Tweet

Mitigate the risk posed by rapid application development

Of course, risk is present in other areas besides your email and with employees—including in websites and applications. Identifying and remediating application vulnerabilities while maintaining development agility is sometimes challenging. This is particularly true when adopting cloud platforms like AWS and Azure that enable rapid application deployments. In fact, studies have shown that as many as 86 percent of websites contain at least one serious vulnerability, and that the average time critical vulnerabilities go unfixed is 300 days. Vulnerabilities in your websites and other public-facing applications can lead to costly data breaches and infiltration.

Organizations should proactively check for vulnerabilities in their sites and applications. One way to do this is to use Barracuda’s Vulnerability Manger and Remediation Service, which is a free service that scans sites and applications for vulnerabilities. By entering your website URL, you’ll receive a report detailing all of the discovered vulnerabilities. You can then address the issues yourself, or you can load the report into a Barracuda Web Application Firewall and use our Vulnerability Remediation Service to automatically remediate them.

Mitigate the risk of data loss

Sometimes you can do everything right in your approach to security and still have something ugly happen—like have your data lost or held for ransom. That’s why there’s one important step you should take to mitigate the risk of data loss. Protect it. Implement a data protection strategy that not only includes a backup plan, but one that allows for easy recovery as well.

A solution like Barracuda Backup automatically creates updated backups as files are revised, and duplicates them to the secure Barracuda cloud or to a private off-site location. If criminals encrypt your files with ransomware, you’ll be able to eliminate the malware, then delete the encrypted files and restore them from a recent clean backup. The whole process can take as little as one hour, allowing you to get right back to business, and leaving the criminals empty-handed.

By taking these proactive steps to mitigate the security risks in your organization, you’ll greatly reduce the attack probability, and have the ability to remediate and quickly recover in the event of exposure. Being truly secure requires a lot more than just focusing on keeping the bad stuff out, but rather—learning how to mitigate the potential risks before they ever come your way.


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