Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Operations

9/4/2015
10:30 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
100%
0%

Back To Basics: 10 Security Best Practices

The most effective strategy for keeping organizations, users and customers safe is to focus on the fundamentals.

"We need the latest security technology in order to protect our network against sophisticated attacks."

That’s a quote I’ve heard all too often, but those shiny new toys are not always the best use of your money – or your security staff’s time.

Despite the media hype, the biggest threats to your enterprise data assets are actually from the same old threats that we were worried about last year, five years ago, and in many cases even a decade ago. Only a handful of attacks truly use sophisticated “Mission Impossible” techniques, so the shiny new tools may do more harm than good at protecting your organization.

First, precious IT time is needed to learn, deploy, and adapt these new tools to your environment – time that could be better spent maximizing the benefits of your existing tools. Second, these new tools will likely overload staff with even more alerts and anomalies, and your already overwhelmed staff may not have the skills or the time to analyze, prioritize, and address them.

So before investing in new tools, here are 10 security best practices to help protect your organization with the techniques and technologies you likely already have in place. These best practices should be common knowledge, but unfortunately they are hardly common practice.

#1. Patch. Despite the hype, most attacks exploit known vulnerabilities. Make sure you are investing adequate time in patching your systems. It’s not glamorous, but it is extremely effective.

#2. Limit. Like making too many master keys to a building, you shouldn’t give admin rights to too many individuals. Make sure that anyone with privileged rights to the enterprise infrastructure and the security policy is truly trusted and keep an eye on them. What is true for people also holds true for network traffic. Make sure you do not have any overly permissive firewall rules (E.g. ANY/ANY) that allow traffic without any business justification.

#3. Check. Data theft by insiders can be costly, or even calamitous. So while you’re looking at network policies, verify the outbound access you allow employees to have while on your network. Lock down everything that’s not needed. For example, if your company doesn’t use Dropbox or Google Drive, lock them out.

#4. Segment. Network segmentation remains an important strategy to contain attacks by limiting the lateral movement of attackers. Understand where your critical data is stored, and use firewalls to limit traffic to and from those network segments.

#5. Automate. Your attackers are using automated tools to scan ports and identify misconfigured devices, so how on earth do you stand a chance if you attempt to do this work manually? Automating mundane security tasks such as analyzing firewall changes and device configurations not only mitigates manual errors, it also frees up precious time to focus on more strategic security initiatives.

#6. Visualize. You can’t secure what you can’t see. With the complexity of today’s networks and applications, it’s very difficult to understand the impact of a security policy change (such as adding a firewall rule) on business applications. This complexity coupled with a lack of visibility can have serious implications on security. So make sure you have complete, up-to-date visibility of your enterprise network and active monitoring of system configurations. 

#7. Document.  Make sure to document your security policies in a knowledge database so that network admins, security staff, and even application teams understand exactly what is going on – and why. This is particularly important when setting up rules to support new applications, because when an application is decommissioned or moved, you’ll want to reverse that rule. But you won’t be able to do so if you don’t know about it.

#8. Align. Security teams are not always in alignment with other teams such as operations, and this misalignment can be even greater with the business side of the house. Make sure security is integrated into operations and business processes as early as possible. Failure to do so will perpetuate the situation where security is “bolted on” as an afterthought, and is perceived is an inhibitor to the business rather than an enabler.

#9. Educate. Security awareness should be part of your business’ DNA, and practiced both top-down and bottom-up. This is where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: Have a well-organized, well-understood, well-maintained, and well-monitored security policy for both insiders and outsiders, and make sure they undergo periodic training.

#10. Measure Make sure you define metrics that are meaningful and can help you assess your security posture over time. With increased attention (and often increased budget) from the Board comes increased responsibility to demonstrate accountability.

As security practitioners, our job is to minimize business risk. We’ll get the most impact, and do the most to keep our organizations, users, and customers safe, by focusing on the fundamentals. Getting back to basics is the best way to cover your security bases.

 

Originally a software engineer and then a product manager for security products, Nimrod (Nimmy) Reichenberg now heads global strategy for AlgoSec. Nimmy is a frequent speaker at information security events and a regular contributor to industry publications including Security ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Amriteshsingh
50%
50%
Amriteshsingh,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/7/2015 | 6:22:54 AM
Ten IT admin mistakes that can be expensive on security and productivity fronts
Thanks for sharing this fantastic stuff !

I appreciate the effort you have made.

I would also to share one another informtiave article that covers those common IT admin mistakes that can be expensive on security and productivity fronts. I hope, you will enjoy it :  www.lepide.com/blog/ten-it-admin-mistakes-that-can-be-expensive-on-security-and-productivity-fronts/
DevSecOps: The Answer to the Cloud Security Skills Gap
Lamont Orange, Chief Information Security Officer at Netskope,  11/15/2019
Attackers' Costs Increasing as Businesses Focus on Security
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  11/15/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Navigating the Deluge of Security Data
In this Tech Digest, Dark Reading shares the experiences of some top security practitioners as they navigate volumes of security data. We examine some examples of how enterprises can cull this data to find the clues they need.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-19037
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-21
ext4_empty_dir in fs/ext4/namei.c in the Linux kernel through 5.3.12 allows a NULL pointer dereference because ext4_read_dirblock(inode,0,DIRENT_HTREE) can be zero.
CVE-2019-19036
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-21
btrfs_root_node in fs/btrfs/ctree.c in the Linux kernel through 5.3.12 allows a NULL pointer dereference because rcu_dereference(root->node) can be zero.
CVE-2019-19039
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-21
__btrfs_free_extent in fs/btrfs/extent-tree.c in the Linux kernel through 5.3.12 calls btrfs_print_leaf in a certain ENOENT case, which allows local users to obtain potentially sensitive information about register values via the dmesg program.
CVE-2019-6852
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-20
A CWE-200: Information Exposure vulnerability exists in Modicon Controllers (M340 CPUs, M340 communication modules, Premium CPUs, Premium communication modules, Quantum CPUs, Quantum communication modules - see security notification for specific versions), which could cause the disclosure of FTP har...
CVE-2019-6853
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-20
A CWE-79: Failure to Preserve Web Page Structure vulnerability exists in Andover Continuum (models 9680, 5740 and 5720, bCX4040, bCX9640, 9900, 9940, 9924 and 9702) , which could enable a successful Cross-site Scripting (XSS attack) when using the products web server.