Using a continuous security monitoring strategy for cybersecurity can provide your security team with greater visibility into your threat landscape. To maximize the value of your investment in continuous security monitoring, you must first understand how data can be compromised. The three primary methods are as follows:

External assaults (i.e., bad actors breaking into your network from the outside)

Insider threats (i.e., trusted employees or company insiders either willingly or unknowingly becoming the source of data loss, theft, or compromise)

Attacks on the supply chain or third-party ecosystems (i.e., vendors that have access to your most critical data becoming the source of data loss, theft, or compromise)

Continuous security monitoring to actively avoid all three of the above scenarios isn’t just a suggestion in today’s security environment; it’s a requirement.

Cybersecurity is a hot topic in boardrooms and C-suites all over the world. The alternative to a continuously monitored organization is a “compliance-focused” organization—but, as we have previously stated, compliance does not equal security. As a result, it is safe to say that having a continuous security monitoring strategy is not only a best practice or a competitive differentiator; it is simply required to run a successful business.

While the importance of continuous security monitoring cannot be overstated, developing a successful continuous monitoring plan is not easy. We’ve compiled a list of five components to think about when developing your continuous security monitoring strategy.

1. Determine which data you want to safeguard.

There are only so many time resources you can devote to cybersecurity, especially given the budget constraints security teams are facing as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. It is critical to first determine what data you want to prioritize and what infrastructure is most critical for your organization to operate efficiently. Recognizing this from the start will allow you to better articulate your continuous security monitoring strategy.

2. Establish a process for regularly patching security vulnerabilities.

It is critical to remain aware of vulnerabilities in your network configurations or that have arisen as a result of the software applications you are currently deploying. You will be able to patch vulnerabilities more quickly if you stay on top of your current security posture and what types of malware are prevalent in your industry.

3. Ensure that all of your endpoints are constantly monitored.

When someone from the outside tries to gain unauthorized access to your data, they may send a spear-phishing email to employees, for example. This is an excellent example of why it is critical to continuously monitor your endpoints, which include desktops, laptops, servers, and other similar devices. If one of your company’s employees then clicked on a spear-phishing link and malware was installed on your system, you’d be able to deal with it quickly and securely. Keep in mind that the longer an attack remains on your system, the more likely it is that your data will be compromised.

4. Develop a process for identifying changes in standard user behavior within your organization on a continuous basis.

Continuous security monitoring is also necessary to protect against potential insider threats. To begin, you must establish a baseline for standard user behavior across your organization and understand how most employees interact with applications and data in your network.

Can you describe your employees’ typical workdays or how engaged they are with the applications and data in your network? If not, you should start working on developing metrics and collecting data on these topics.

Once you’ve accomplished this, you’ll be able to better develop a process for detecting any suspicious changes in behavior that could indicate a potential security threat. Another factor to consider is whether or not you have restricted access to your most critical data.

5. Install continuous security monitoring software to keep an eye on your third-party vendors.

There are numerous tools and techniques available today for businesses to use in order to continuously monitor how potential security threats enter their network. To identify malicious code, you can monitor at the firewall or across all of your endpoints, but what about data that isn’t in your own environment? Of course, it is also critical to look beyond your organization and use continuous security monitoring for third-party vendors.

Using a tool like VAPORVM Security Ratings allows you to see immediately when and if one of your vendors’ security posture changes, allowing you to begin mitigating the issue and ensuring that your data is not impacted. You can also use VAPORVM to assess a potential vendor’s security posture before you begin working with them or give them access to your sensitive data.

In conclusion

The goal of continuous information security monitoring is to protect your organization’s most sensitive data—and knowing what that data is, where it is stored, and who has access to it is simply essential. Beyond that, you must consider what steps to take to limit access to that data and how to protect that data wherever it resides.

This is especially important when your data resides outside of your organization. By implementing a continuous security monitoring plan, you will hold your vendors accountable for their actions and make it clear what standards you expect them to meet.

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