All organizations handling electronic information and utilizing information technology must take care of their information systems’ data security. Independent of whether the motives are based on the willingness to ensure uninterrupted business continuity, meet regulatory compliance or to guarantee and be able to prove fulfilled contractual obligations of a signed non-disclosure agreement or other contracts, care must be taken in defining administrative and technical information security controls and implementing them as an integrated part of the organization’s daily business.
Technical controls typically concern secure systems design, strong user authentication, authorizing transactions, comprehensive event logging, regular security testing, server hardening etc. In other words, technical controls in their part attempt to prevent intentional and accidental damage caused to an information system and to the safety of the data it contains. Surely also administrative controls have the same end goal but those can be considered to operate more indirectly. In practice, the technical controls form the front-line defense against external threats, such as hackers.
Recurring security testing in an evolving threat landscape
Security testing when properly targeted, scoped and timed is one of the most effective ways to ensure the effectiveness of the implemented protective measures. Security testing must be conducted in a recurring fashion due to the continuously evolving threats and due to the changes done to the target information systems. Perhaps the most clearly distinguishable external threat for an IT system are the outsider hackers who intentionally attempt to penetrate the systems by utilizing existing security vulnerabilities or logical mistakes in the implementation. The same security deficiencies can also be utilized by internal threat agents, but we shall cover the categorization and analysis of internal threats in another blog.
Ensuring an organization’s data safety and preparing for evil-minded hackers consists of several distinct topic areas and best practices; basically, all those areas and domains that make up the corporate IT environment. Such preventive and reactive practices and means improving organizational data security are discussed in the attached PDF Guide “Preparing for hackers. Checklist: Critical Steps for Hacker-proofing Your Company". Read the most important cyber security tips, how to efficiently prepare for hackers to protect your organization’s information assets. The hints provided lay a good foundation for starting systematic data security improvements.
Organizations can improve their understanding of their current cyber security condition and their readiness to prepare for and survive different cyber security incidents, for example, by regularly performing cyber security assessments, conducting cyber awareness trainings as well as carrying out hacker tests either on organization or information system level.
Organizations often face external requirements to perform recurring security testing but at least an equally strong motivation should rise from the interest to protect their own business – preferably sooner than later and with adequate commitment, budgeting and scope.
What if we are already too late?
Unfortunately, it is too common to realize way too late that security testing needs to be done. It's possible to be late at least in two different meanings. For example, an IS project can be already approaching completion and nearing go-live, making it incredibly expensive to properly address possible security issues discovered when security testing is finally done. Even worse, being late can mean that security incident(s) have already realized, the systems have been penetrated and/or confidential information has been stolen or modified without authorization.
Security testing, or hacker testing, in its different forms fits organizations, web applications and internal IT systems of all sizes to reliably discover and verify the actual data security level. The final report delivered at the end of the security testing gives clear recommendations for patching the identified vulnerabilities and presents other general observations about the target system’s security posture.
Three elfGROUP cyber security experts put together a PDF Guide: “Preparing for hackers. Checklist: Critical Steps for Hacker-proofing Your Company”. Download the guide now and get started easily with continuously improving your organization’s cyber secure way of conducting business.
Curious or even doubtful about your own company’s or information system’s data security? Leave us your contact information and we’ll be happy to discuss how we could best support your company’s cyber security needs – always in a tangible manner and with measures aligned with your business needs.