Strategies for Digital Risk Protection

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Published 06/23/2020

No lock has ever been invented that was completely secure. If an intruder really wants to get in, they usually can find a way.

And yet, most of us wouldn’t leave the door to our home, office, or automobile open or unlocked overnight. Security isn’t perfect, but it can act as a deterrent, helping to keep us and our belongings safe.

The same is true in the digital realm. Cybercriminals work around the clock to infiltrate our home and business networks. And often—too often—they succeed.

Sometimes, yes, the threat actor is a lone hacker with only a modicum of knowledge or experience looking for a way to make money fast.

But organized crime and nation-states are increasingly turning to cybercrime to steal state secrets, organizational proprietary information, and bank account information, and to extort money via ransomware.

Digital risk protection, or DRP, is the cyber equivalent of locking our doors—as well as installing security cameras, hiring a guard, installing a safe, and setting a burglar alarm.

“Digital risk protection” refers to cybersecurity measures that aim to prevent data breaches, malware, identity theft, and other forms of cybercrime. DRP is the proactive piece of the cybersecurity puzzle, and imperative for every organization.

Why DRP Matters

No enterprise can thrive without being online in some form or fashion. And in fact, we must expand our digital offerings more and more to keep up with our customers’ demands as well as to improve our employee productivity and business operations.

But every new connection increases an organization’s “attack surface,” making it more likely that it will be hacked. Here are some examples:

  • Moving retail to the cloud to enable seamless omnichannel shopping
  • Hiring and managing personnel using a human resources application
  • Enabling application developers to collaborate online
  • Collecting payments using a third-party processor
  • Automating factories using the internet of things
  • Marketing and advertising on social media sites

So, just as digital connections are essential, so is having an effective digital risk protection program. Without one, your organization almost certainly won’t be able to keep its critical business functions running smoothly, comply with a growing roster of cybersecurity and privacy laws and regulations, or protect your customers and your brand.

Creating a Digital Risk Protection Program

Digital risk protection is a cyber risk management strategy consisting of two main components: Identifying and mitigating risks and threats.

Identification

Identification includes the following steps:

  • List all digital assets including computers, network and data center equipment, servers, software, and mobile devices.
  • Map the organization’s complete digital footprint, linking digital assets to IP addresses; applications; social media sites; third- and fourth-party vendors and their assets and digital footprints; temporary development and quality assurance environments; email accounts, and all other digital channels that hackers might exploit.
  • Restrict employees from downloading non-approved applications to organizational devices (“shadow IT”).
  • List the potential risks, including third-party risks, and internal and external threats to all these assets and Internet-facing services.
  • Monitor and collect real-time threat intelligence on the following:
    • Attack indicators: Signs that your organization may suffer a cybersecurity attack, found in online and dark web messages; false logins or login attempts; imposter accounts such as fake social media accounts and other online scams posing as coming from your organization (which can be a precursor to customer phishing); and other anomalies including social engineering; 
    • Data loss or leaks: Found in unauthorized database postings, online postings of sensitive data or documents, and data breach attempts or incidents;
    • Vulnerabilities: Which areas in your systems and networks could expose you to attack or malware? Expired Security Socket Layer (SSL) certificates, open ports, and unsecure or inadequately secured login pages are examples. Employees, whether disgruntled or inadequately trained, can also pose risks, especially if they have access to sensitive information.

Mitigation 

Keeping out the “bad guys” is, of course, the point of all this threat-intelligence gathering. Risk mitigation, as you may recall, is the other half of the DRP equation.

Mitigation involves putting in place controls, or mechanisms to reduce your risk of cyberattacks and to hinder their success should they occur—the digital equivalent of hiding your valuables out of sight to avoid attracting thieves, and installing locks, cameras, and other safeguards to thwart their efforts should they decide to burgle you, anyway.

In cybersecurity, controls include Identity Access Management (IAM), which establishes who can access sensitive parts of your system and networks, and requires user authentication to get in.

Anti-malware and anti-virus software is a control, too, as are “separation of duties” policies requiring the developer environment to be separate from the production environment.

Risk management and cybersecurity frameworks can be great resources with lists of controls and other mitigations helpful for your DRP program. These frameworks include but are not limited to:

  • NIST Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF)
  • Center for Internet Security (CIS) Controls
  • Cloud Security Alliance Cloud Controls Matrix (CSA-CCM)
  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • ISO 27001:2013, providing requirements for an information security management system (ISMS)
  • ISO 27701: 2019, specifies requirements and provides guidance for establishing, implementing, maintaining and continually improving a Privacy Information Management System (PIMS) in the form of an extension to ISO/IEC 27001 and ISO/IEC 27002 for privacy management within the context of the organization.

Automating Your Digital Risk Protection Program

The work of identifying, monitoring, and mitigating cyber risks is complex and time-consuming. What’s more, since cybercriminals work 24/7, so will your security teams—unless you use automation to conduct many of the tasks for them. You need a digital risk protection solution.

Experts recommend a DRP solution with the following features:

  • Collects and scans data from a broad set of digital channels, including the open web, the dark web, and your technologies, IP addresses, social media channels, and applications–your own, and those of your supply-chain partners.
  • Maps, monitors, and mitigates digital risk using such tools as data analytics, machine learning, security incident and event management (SIEM), business intelligence, workflow and ticketing, and vulnerability Management.
  • Adapts to specific security use cases and functions. A good DRP solution will be adaptable to your organization’s unique sector and situation, and will provide you with the data you need to create customer case studies, market your security capabilities, manage and monitor your set of technologies and risks, and work with your partners and stakeholders to improve overall security and, when necessary, facilitate prompt takedowns of compromised sites.

ZenGRC, our governance, risk management, and compliance software, helps you identify, monitor, manage, and mitigate cybersecurity and other risks to your organization.

Zen analyzes your systems, networks, and applications for risks, and surveys and tracks the security and compliance of your third-party vendors.

Its color-coded dashboards tell you where you’re secure and where you aren’t, and how to fill gaps.

Zen guides you through security frameworks and collects and stores compliance documentation so you’re ready at audit time, and allows unlimited, in-a-click self-audits so you always know where you stand.

And our ZenConnect solution integrates ZenGRC with any and all the business applications you use for a seamless DRP and GRC experience.

Worry-free digital risk and compliance management that frees you to focus on your business and bottom line: That’s the Zen way. Contact us now for your free consultation.

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