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Blog · 14 Jun 2023

How to shift your cyber security approach from reactive to proactive

Effective cyber defence today has to take the initiative, spotting and stopping attacks before they take hold. Here’s how to adopt a proactive stance.

Regional Managing Director APJC and MEA, Business

When your operating circumstances can change so quickly, it’s wise to be prepared for anything – and this is particularly true for cyber security.

So why do so many organisations find themselves holding a reactive security posture having issues appear before they can take action?

Potentially, this lag happens because making the shift from reactive to proactive isn’t an overnight move – it’s a journey that takes planning, commitment and vision.

But the results are worth it; in a fast-paced and unknown environment, you’ll be able to predict where digital threats will emerge before they touch your organisation and be ready to defend against them, reducing their impact.

Six steps to a proactive security approach

To achieve a smooth, accelerated switch in security posture, try breaking the process down into the following six stages to make sure every factor is considered and actioned.

  1. Make establishing a proactive stance a business issue
    Winning support from the top of your organisation will accelerate your journey, and the fastest way to get board-level backing is to connect your plan back to the quantifiable risk to the business.
  2. Know what you’re dealing with – internally
    Look at the assets you’re protecting, prioritise them according to how critical they are to your organisation and examine their resilience. Get a thorough understanding of what’s connected to your network and the security risks it represents. Consider, too, how incorporating the internet of things or new technologies like SD-WAN might add vulnerabilities.
  3. Know what you’re dealing with – externally
    Work on creating a real-time, comprehensive understanding of your threat landscape so you can gather actionable threat intelligence. Ideally, you’ll enhance this horizon scanning with reports from leading analysts and insights from bodies such as the National Vulnerability Database.
  4. Make tactical investments in proactive defences
    Explore security systems, tools and services that can deliver enhanced threat monitoring, correlating multiple events in real-time so you can identify attacks early and respond accordingly. Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) and Extended Detection and Response (XDR) solutions will play a key roles in this.
  5. Actively seek out your security weaknesses
    Stay alert for any potential indicators of compromise and use attack simulations regularly to spot and tackle risk-causing vulnerabilities. Vulnerability scanning is not a one-time event, but an important, on-going responsibility.
  6. Close the loop
    Use your experience to make your systems smarter and stronger. Track the results of any action and feed the learnings back into the system.

Stay SAFE by staying proactive

An effective starting point for your stance shift is choosing a market-leading method for quantifying risk in terms of business impact.

SAFE Security’s Cyber Risk Quantification and Management platform looks at your organisation’s risk across the five areas of people, process, technology, cyber security products and supply chain. It automatically collects and aggregates information from your internal attack surfaces and combines it with external threat intelligence. A specialised algorithm then generates a SAFE score that summarises your organisation’s cyber security health, likely financial loss broken down by each attack vector, and a priority order of security actions.

With this knowledge base as your foundation, you can take your company board with you as you transform your approach, and check the effects of every further cyber security decision as you make it.

It can be the launch pad for a new, proactive strategy – as many of our global customers have discovered. Here’s just one example of a customer and what you too could achieve.

BT’s partnership with BW Group drives a better approach

BW Group, one of the world’s leading maritime groups, chose us to help them build a next generation cyber platform that would support their proactive security posture. We were able to take on their vision, supply global insight on the best route to success, and bring together the technologies and services they needed to build a managed solution that frees up their in-house security teams to focus on wider tasks. They’re now confident that their business-critical systems are protected, no matter how quickly new cyber threats emerge.

For a first-hand account of what the process was like, read our case study on BW Group’s security posture transformation.