A proactive cybersecurity strategy is one that acts before any attack occurs, a state of good cybersecurity readiness.
The creation and review of security tools, protocols, policies and practices is often a set-it-and-forget-it process. However, the world is constantly changing. A proactive approach is to continually review with an eye toward emerging threats, new tools and ideas, and to update everything frequently. The same is true for training, and cybersecurity awareness and related employee training “courses” should be actively reviewed at least quarterly.
Rather than waiting for an attack, conduct your own hacking simulations, where certified ethical hackers can probe defenses and find vulnerabilities and defensive weaknesses. These offensive security researchers use the same methods and tools as malicious attackers. Red team/blue team exercises, penetration tests and other simulations allow employees to learn from cyber attacks without actually being attacked.
Use tools that provide insight into what is happening on the network and respond automatically. A proactive approach means that as many fixes as possible have been locked down and loaded, and intelligent software can provide a 7×24 h search for breaches and anomalous behavior, always ready to quarantine and fix when something happens – it’s offense, not defense.
Using a proactive approach, doors can be locked when the system detects an intruder. Zero Trust seeks to authenticate and authorize every device, application and user that attempts to access every resource. For an attacker, even if they could steal the password, they would still find the door locked because they did not authorize the device. This proactive approach to locking doors through the zero-trust model is even more important because many remote workers use home offices.
The zero trust model is dynamic and requires monitoring, learning and adaptation on a continuous (proactive) basis.
Proactive vs. reactive in endpoint monitoring
Proactive security means proactive endpoint monitoring. With the proliferation of IoT devices, cloud infrastructure and remote work devices, automate endpoint monitoring to maximize the local security of each device.
Proactive and reactive cybersecurity requires looking for compromise indicators – signs that a breach and cybercrime has occurred. But proactive cybersecurity looks for Indicators of Behavior (IoB), which are collections of user actions.
For example, someone might download business data to an external storage device or upload code to an unknown cloud service. IoB provides a clearer picture of an organization’s vulnerability from a behavioral perspective by collecting hundreds of such pieces of information. It also allows changes to be made with minimal disruption. For example, users using USB drives can be allowed to find more secure options in advance, thus preparing them for the decision to proactively disable the USB drive connection. Specific devices or endpoints can also be isolated for close monitoring when employee behavior is at risk.
Proactive vs. reactive is a mindset
Proactive cybersecurity is a broad, holistic approach. It involves not only specific methods and practices, but also an offensive cybersecurity mindset. After all, why wait until you are attacked to act? One can act proactively to prevent an attack from occurring.