cybersecurity

cybersecurity

Identifying and Strengthening the Weakest Links in Your IT Infrastructure’s Security

Identifying and Strengthening the Weakest Links in Your IT Infrastructure’s Security

Netcon logo
Netcon logo
cybersecurity

Identifying and Strengthening the Weakest Links in Your IT Infrastructure’s Security

By

Karthikeyan R

Jan 5, 2024

8

min read

What does the robustness of an IT infrastructure mean?

IT spending worldwide is expected to hit $5.1 trillion in 2024. That's an 8% jump in what companies invested just a year earlier according to research firm Gartner.

But what's the point in buying all this flashy new tech if the backend workings are vulnerable?

When we talk robust IT infrastructure, we mean having security, visibility, and reliability baked into those behind-the-scenes systems. That way your core keeps humming even when threats come knocking.

I've observed a theme among the strategies of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) worldwide – security. In 2024, 80% of CIOs showed intent to spend on cyber and information security.

So let's unpack strategies for resilience. How do you lock things down and keep operations running smooth?

Securing the IT Infrastructure

Whether you're a CIO of a mid-sized enterprise or a small business, I've put together some actionable insights that cater to all.

First Step: Checkup Time

Before launching defense initiatives, diagnose what exactly needs protecting. Run health checks that uncover gaps in your infrastructure by:

  • Doing penetration tests to uncover vulnerabilities

  • Scanning for risks like outdated software

  • Assessing against frameworks like NIST or CIS Controls

Make this exam periodic. Threats shape-shift constantly; holes you patch today might open back up. So keep assessing to catch issues early before they become outbreaks.

Segment and Scramble: Shielding Critical Data

What cyber thieves want most is data, especially the sensitive kind. The average cost of a data breach for small companies in 2022 was $3.31 million.

Why make it easy for them? Use walls and code scrambling to guard it.

Network segmentation means dividing systems and access by department, function etc. Finance data protected from marketing files. Scrambling communication between segments limits exposure if one gets breached.

Encryption basically turns information into unreadable gibberish for unauthorized folks. Critical for transmitted and stored data. Apply robust scrambling standards everywhere possible.

Both tactics limit access and minimize what crooks can take.

The Human Factor: Your Strongest Defense?

People can be your biggest security asset...or greatest liability. 74% of breaches originate from someone inadvertently letting thieves in. So vigilance is key.

Build that awareness muscle through regular training. Show real examples of phishing attempts, shady network behavior, guidelines for handling sensitive info. Empower folks to become that first line of defense by spotting risks early.

Reward those who flag suspicious stuff rather than punish slip-ups. You want transparency, not egg-shells. Prevention always beats cleanup after a breach.

Level Up: Advanced Security Layers

Once basics are covered, enhanced protections take things up a notch. Think multi-factor authentication, demanding extra “proof” of identity before system access.

In a 2019 survey by Google, multi-factor authentication blocked 100% of automated bot logins, 96% of bulk phishing attacks, and 76% of targeted attacks.

Intrusion detection to monitor closely for anything suspicious circumventing perimeter defenses.

Having failover capacity and redundancy means operations continue even when (not if) trouble hits. No disruptions to business.

Response plans for when (again, not if) an incident eventually occurs are critical too - protocols for communication, containment, minimizing impact.  77% of the organizations don't have a plan of action to deal with it.

But you can be in that 23% who have a plan to ensure a swift and effective response. More layers means more work for bad guys trying to penetrate deeper.

Growing Pains: Expanding/Evolving Environments

As companies scale, security measures must keep pace. What worked for 10 employees fails at 1000. Major moves like migrating to the cloud require precautionary prep too.

Treat security checkups, policy reviews, training refreshers as recurring musts in the yearly planning routine. Don’t let that infrastructure lag business evolution.

You receive 94% of the malware via your emails. To combat them, your security policy must evolve.

Lean on external audits to stay atop gaps that infrastructure growth triggers. Being proactive beats reactionary mode when breaches strike.

Securing Assets: Bringing It All Together

With diagnostics, training, data protections and other measures covered - how do you bring it together into a holistic defense shield?

Classify Data by Value

Not all data equals. Categorize by sensitivity - confidential, critical, public etc. Layer access controls, encryption etc as per value. Helps optimize security efforts.

Customize Controls Based on Users

Not all employees need access to everything. Tailor who can access what based on roles and responsibilities. Minimizes exposure.

Assume Breach Mentality

Despite best efforts, assume breach is inevitable given complexity of systems. Have detection controls and rapid response protocols ready when (not if) it occurs.

Involve Outside Partners

Unbiased external auditors often spot risks companies miss themselves. Cloud providers scale security with latest tools. Partners plug knowledge gaps.

With persistence and learning, resilience is possible even against tirelessly evolving threats.

Weakest Links: Assessing Infrastructure Gaps

Where should security leaders focus attention first? Often, it's identifying and strengthening weak links that expose the entire chain.

Common Elements to Assess

Outdated Software

Unpatched, aging apps/OS are gold for exploits. They are responsible for 60% of the cyberattacks according to a survey by Automox. Should be urgency in updates, upgrades.

Inadequate Access Controls

Loose identity and access management - overexposed privileges, poor password hygiene etc - make unauthorized access easier.

Unencrypted Data

Transmitted/stored data not encrypted means easy picking for thieves if they access networks.

Detection Blindspots

Inability to monitor networks for odd user behavior, unauthorized access attempts means threats slip by unseen.

Addressing these byproducts of IT sprawl and complexity should take priority.

How to Diagnose Weak Spots

Security Posture Assessments

Skilled experts conduct extensive tests mimicking adversary methods - penetrating defenses, scanning networks etc to uncover gaps. Do it periodically.

User Access Reviews

Overprivileged users pose massive insider threat risk. Review who has access to what, disable unused accounts promptly.

Surface Visibility Tools

Solutions providing single dashboard views into network user activity, data patterns etc help secops teams connect dots on abnormal behavior.

Strengthening Plans After Gaps Identified

Patch Rapidly, Upgrade Strategically

Have dedicated resources to roll out software fixes quickly balancing uptime needs. Build upgrade roadmaps aligned to biz needs.

Zero Trust Models

Evolve from castle-and-moat approaches to zero trust - granting least privilege access after stringent verification, assuming breach.

Automate Monitoring

Manual monitoring rapidly becomes infeasible given data volumes. Automate threat intel, behavioral anomaly alerts.

With consistent gap assessments and upgrades aligned to business impact, weak links turn into competitive strengths.

Secure Your IT Infrastructure Before Moving to the Cloud

Cloud migration promises scalability, flexibility, and efficiency. No doubts there. But transitioning without locking down your IT infrastructure first comes with massive risk.

Gartner predicts that through 2025, 99% of cloud security failures will be due to customer misconfigurations, not provider shortfalls.

Top Dangers of Skimping on Security Before Cloud Move

Gartner also predicted that 90% of organizations that fail to have proper security policies during their cloud migration will leak sensitive data.

Data Exposure

Info accessed during migration can become easy pickings if access controls and encryption aren't fortified.

Loss of Visibility and Control

On-prem you control hardware, networks etc. In the cloud you rely more on provider tools. Can be visibility blindspots.

Security Policy Gaps

Gartner also warns 90% of organizations lacking clear security policies during migration lose data.

Make Security Central to Every Migration Step

Protection must be priority one woven into each phase - assessment, data classification, vendor evaluation etc. Collaboration between security and infrastructure teams is key.

Some best practices:

Audit Existing Infrastructure Security First

Uncover gaps that need addressing before exposing things further through a cloud move.

Classify and Encrypt Data

Categorize by sensitivity, apply encryption and access controls accordingly so nothing leaks.

Train Employees on Cloud Security

Get staff up to speed on new policies, data handling, threats vectors etc pre and post move.

With precautions, potential cloud benefits outweigh risks. But skimping is surely disaster recipe.

How Data Classification Enhances Security

Not all data holds equal importance or sensitivity. Correctly categorizing info - confidential, public etc - makes security efforts more precise and effective.

Why Classification Matters

It lets you optimize controls and spending by aligning protection levels with business value. Why full encryption, access controls etc for low-sensitivity public data?

Conversely, you ensure limited access, strong scrambling, and other controls on confidential and regulated data like customer info or contracts.

Tailoring Security to Classified Data

Access Policies Based on Roles

Finance team needs access to financials but not customer data. HR vice versa. Limit to strict need-to-know.

Encryption as per Sensitivity Apply strong standards like AES-256 bit encryption to highly confidential data.

Incident Response Prioritized by Criticality Response urgency and escalation protocols based on what data type is compromised.

Implementing Classification

Set Clear Category Criteria

Guidelines for teams on what data gets classified as confidential, regulated, public etc based on your business.

Training Around Handling

Build staff awareness on labeling data appropriately during storage, transmission etc.

With tiered policies and controls tied directly to classification levels, security shifts from one-size-fits all to tailored precision.

Regularly Review and Update Policies

Your business dynamics will evolve. You’ll have to update the classification policies accordingly. To do that, you establish a framework for periodic review and updates to classification policies.

By recognizing the importance of data classification, aligning it with security protocols, and implementing effective policies, you strengthen the infrastructure defense.

Final Thoughts

While it may seem like a never-ending battle against evolving cyber threats, the upside is that the field continues to advance as well. All I can advise is to stay updated on the latest tools and best practices that can enhance your security posture without breaking the bank. Collaborate with reliable experts and advisors to craft protocols for your unique needs.

With persistence and smart strategy, you can build an IT infrastructure that withstands both current and emerging threats while enabling innovation.

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Karthikeyan

Written by

Karthikeyan R

AVP - Technology

Master builder Karthikeyan, over 16 years an IT sector mainstay through constantly riding the crest of innovation. A systems sensei designing complex networked cloud brains for major transport veins nationwide. Well-versed across modern tech dimensions from software craft to security, his eyewitness view into operations infrastructure steers airport and metro tech decision makers expediently into the future.

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cybersecurity

Identifying and Strengthening the Weakest Links in Your IT Infrastructure’s Security

BY

Karthikeyan R

Jan 5, 2024

8

min read

What does the robustness of an IT infrastructure mean?

IT spending worldwide is expected to hit $5.1 trillion in 2024. That's an 8% jump in what companies invested just a year earlier according to research firm Gartner.

But what's the point in buying all this flashy new tech if the backend workings are vulnerable?

When we talk robust IT infrastructure, we mean having security, visibility, and reliability baked into those behind-the-scenes systems. That way your core keeps humming even when threats come knocking.

I've observed a theme among the strategies of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) worldwide – security. In 2024, 80% of CIOs showed intent to spend on cyber and information security.

So let's unpack strategies for resilience. How do you lock things down and keep operations running smooth?

Securing the IT Infrastructure

Whether you're a CIO of a mid-sized enterprise or a small business, I've put together some actionable insights that cater to all.

First Step: Checkup Time

Before launching defense initiatives, diagnose what exactly needs protecting. Run health checks that uncover gaps in your infrastructure by:

  • Doing penetration tests to uncover vulnerabilities

  • Scanning for risks like outdated software

  • Assessing against frameworks like NIST or CIS Controls

Make this exam periodic. Threats shape-shift constantly; holes you patch today might open back up. So keep assessing to catch issues early before they become outbreaks.

Segment and Scramble: Shielding Critical Data

What cyber thieves want most is data, especially the sensitive kind. The average cost of a data breach for small companies in 2022 was $3.31 million.

Why make it easy for them? Use walls and code scrambling to guard it.

Network segmentation means dividing systems and access by department, function etc. Finance data protected from marketing files. Scrambling communication between segments limits exposure if one gets breached.

Encryption basically turns information into unreadable gibberish for unauthorized folks. Critical for transmitted and stored data. Apply robust scrambling standards everywhere possible.

Both tactics limit access and minimize what crooks can take.

The Human Factor: Your Strongest Defense?

People can be your biggest security asset...or greatest liability. 74% of breaches originate from someone inadvertently letting thieves in. So vigilance is key.

Build that awareness muscle through regular training. Show real examples of phishing attempts, shady network behavior, guidelines for handling sensitive info. Empower folks to become that first line of defense by spotting risks early.

Reward those who flag suspicious stuff rather than punish slip-ups. You want transparency, not egg-shells. Prevention always beats cleanup after a breach.

Level Up: Advanced Security Layers

Once basics are covered, enhanced protections take things up a notch. Think multi-factor authentication, demanding extra “proof” of identity before system access.

In a 2019 survey by Google, multi-factor authentication blocked 100% of automated bot logins, 96% of bulk phishing attacks, and 76% of targeted attacks.

Intrusion detection to monitor closely for anything suspicious circumventing perimeter defenses.

Having failover capacity and redundancy means operations continue even when (not if) trouble hits. No disruptions to business.

Response plans for when (again, not if) an incident eventually occurs are critical too - protocols for communication, containment, minimizing impact.  77% of the organizations don't have a plan of action to deal with it.

But you can be in that 23% who have a plan to ensure a swift and effective response. More layers means more work for bad guys trying to penetrate deeper.

Growing Pains: Expanding/Evolving Environments

As companies scale, security measures must keep pace. What worked for 10 employees fails at 1000. Major moves like migrating to the cloud require precautionary prep too.

Treat security checkups, policy reviews, training refreshers as recurring musts in the yearly planning routine. Don’t let that infrastructure lag business evolution.

You receive 94% of the malware via your emails. To combat them, your security policy must evolve.

Lean on external audits to stay atop gaps that infrastructure growth triggers. Being proactive beats reactionary mode when breaches strike.

Securing Assets: Bringing It All Together

With diagnostics, training, data protections and other measures covered - how do you bring it together into a holistic defense shield?

Classify Data by Value

Not all data equals. Categorize by sensitivity - confidential, critical, public etc. Layer access controls, encryption etc as per value. Helps optimize security efforts.

Customize Controls Based on Users

Not all employees need access to everything. Tailor who can access what based on roles and responsibilities. Minimizes exposure.

Assume Breach Mentality

Despite best efforts, assume breach is inevitable given complexity of systems. Have detection controls and rapid response protocols ready when (not if) it occurs.

Involve Outside Partners

Unbiased external auditors often spot risks companies miss themselves. Cloud providers scale security with latest tools. Partners plug knowledge gaps.

With persistence and learning, resilience is possible even against tirelessly evolving threats.

Weakest Links: Assessing Infrastructure Gaps

Where should security leaders focus attention first? Often, it's identifying and strengthening weak links that expose the entire chain.

Common Elements to Assess

Outdated Software

Unpatched, aging apps/OS are gold for exploits. They are responsible for 60% of the cyberattacks according to a survey by Automox. Should be urgency in updates, upgrades.

Inadequate Access Controls

Loose identity and access management - overexposed privileges, poor password hygiene etc - make unauthorized access easier.

Unencrypted Data

Transmitted/stored data not encrypted means easy picking for thieves if they access networks.

Detection Blindspots

Inability to monitor networks for odd user behavior, unauthorized access attempts means threats slip by unseen.

Addressing these byproducts of IT sprawl and complexity should take priority.

How to Diagnose Weak Spots

Security Posture Assessments

Skilled experts conduct extensive tests mimicking adversary methods - penetrating defenses, scanning networks etc to uncover gaps. Do it periodically.

User Access Reviews

Overprivileged users pose massive insider threat risk. Review who has access to what, disable unused accounts promptly.

Surface Visibility Tools

Solutions providing single dashboard views into network user activity, data patterns etc help secops teams connect dots on abnormal behavior.

Strengthening Plans After Gaps Identified

Patch Rapidly, Upgrade Strategically

Have dedicated resources to roll out software fixes quickly balancing uptime needs. Build upgrade roadmaps aligned to biz needs.

Zero Trust Models

Evolve from castle-and-moat approaches to zero trust - granting least privilege access after stringent verification, assuming breach.

Automate Monitoring

Manual monitoring rapidly becomes infeasible given data volumes. Automate threat intel, behavioral anomaly alerts.

With consistent gap assessments and upgrades aligned to business impact, weak links turn into competitive strengths.

Secure Your IT Infrastructure Before Moving to the Cloud

Cloud migration promises scalability, flexibility, and efficiency. No doubts there. But transitioning without locking down your IT infrastructure first comes with massive risk.

Gartner predicts that through 2025, 99% of cloud security failures will be due to customer misconfigurations, not provider shortfalls.

Top Dangers of Skimping on Security Before Cloud Move

Gartner also predicted that 90% of organizations that fail to have proper security policies during their cloud migration will leak sensitive data.

Data Exposure

Info accessed during migration can become easy pickings if access controls and encryption aren't fortified.

Loss of Visibility and Control

On-prem you control hardware, networks etc. In the cloud you rely more on provider tools. Can be visibility blindspots.

Security Policy Gaps

Gartner also warns 90% of organizations lacking clear security policies during migration lose data.

Make Security Central to Every Migration Step

Protection must be priority one woven into each phase - assessment, data classification, vendor evaluation etc. Collaboration between security and infrastructure teams is key.

Some best practices:

Audit Existing Infrastructure Security First

Uncover gaps that need addressing before exposing things further through a cloud move.

Classify and Encrypt Data

Categorize by sensitivity, apply encryption and access controls accordingly so nothing leaks.

Train Employees on Cloud Security

Get staff up to speed on new policies, data handling, threats vectors etc pre and post move.

With precautions, potential cloud benefits outweigh risks. But skimping is surely disaster recipe.

How Data Classification Enhances Security

Not all data holds equal importance or sensitivity. Correctly categorizing info - confidential, public etc - makes security efforts more precise and effective.

Why Classification Matters

It lets you optimize controls and spending by aligning protection levels with business value. Why full encryption, access controls etc for low-sensitivity public data?

Conversely, you ensure limited access, strong scrambling, and other controls on confidential and regulated data like customer info or contracts.

Tailoring Security to Classified Data

Access Policies Based on Roles

Finance team needs access to financials but not customer data. HR vice versa. Limit to strict need-to-know.

Encryption as per Sensitivity Apply strong standards like AES-256 bit encryption to highly confidential data.

Incident Response Prioritized by Criticality Response urgency and escalation protocols based on what data type is compromised.

Implementing Classification

Set Clear Category Criteria

Guidelines for teams on what data gets classified as confidential, regulated, public etc based on your business.

Training Around Handling

Build staff awareness on labeling data appropriately during storage, transmission etc.

With tiered policies and controls tied directly to classification levels, security shifts from one-size-fits all to tailored precision.

Regularly Review and Update Policies

Your business dynamics will evolve. You’ll have to update the classification policies accordingly. To do that, you establish a framework for periodic review and updates to classification policies.

By recognizing the importance of data classification, aligning it with security protocols, and implementing effective policies, you strengthen the infrastructure defense.

Final Thoughts

While it may seem like a never-ending battle against evolving cyber threats, the upside is that the field continues to advance as well. All I can advise is to stay updated on the latest tools and best practices that can enhance your security posture without breaking the bank. Collaborate with reliable experts and advisors to craft protocols for your unique needs.

With persistence and smart strategy, you can build an IT infrastructure that withstands both current and emerging threats while enabling innovation.

Linkedin
Karthikeyan
Karthikeyan

Written by

Karthikeyan R

AVP - Technology

Master builder Karthikeyan, over 16 years an IT sector mainstay through constantly riding the crest of innovation. A systems sensei designing complex networked cloud brains for major transport veins nationwide. Well-versed across modern tech dimensions from software craft to security, his eyewitness view into operations infrastructure steers airport and metro tech decision makers expediently into the future.

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Forward together means questioning the status quo. Disrupt. Innovate. Break it, then build it better. We're not passengers; we're the engineers of tomorrow's tech landscape.

Forward together means embracing the collective. Relationships power our servers and drive our solutions. Your wins are our wins, your challenges beckon our brilliance. Collaboration isn't a method; it's our lifeforce.

Forward together, we carry the mantle of sustainability. We don't just occupy space on this Earth; we vow to leave it better. Eco-ethical codes aren't buzzwords; they're in our codebase.

Strive, but never alone. Reach, but always in tandem. At the crossroads of passion and profession, you'll find balance. You'll find life.

When the trek gets tough, lean on the fortitude of the collective. Seek inspiration in our shared purpose, find courage in our unified resolve.

You're no mere employee; you're the next chapter in a storied lineage. You are Netcon. You are the manifesto. So, carry these words. Let them guide, let them ignite.

Forward Together. Welcome to the vanguard of change. Your mission begins now. Welcome to Netcon.

Enter the fold
Subscribe to our newsletter

© Copyright 2024 Netcon Technologies. All rights reserved. All logos and trademarks used belong to their respective owners.

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Contact

Email : info@netcon.in

Phone : +91 99524 00291

Social

linkedin
linkedin

Others

IPs & Accelerators

Foward

Together.

Forward together means questioning the status quo. Disrupt. Innovate. Break it, then build it better. We're not passengers; we're the engineers of tomorrow's tech landscape.

Forward together means embracing the collective. Relationships power our servers and drive our solutions. Your wins are our wins, your challenges beckon our brilliance. Collaboration isn't a method; it's our lifeforce.

Forward together, we carry the mantle of sustainability. We don't just occupy space on this Earth; we vow to leave it better. Eco-ethical codes aren't buzzwords; they're in our codebase.

Strive, but never alone. Reach, but always in tandem. At the crossroads of passion and profession, you'll find balance. You'll find life.

When the trek gets tough, lean on the fortitude of the collective. Seek inspiration in our shared purpose, find courage in our unified resolve.

You're no mere employee; you're the next chapter in a storied lineage. You are Netcon. You are the manifesto. So, carry these words. Let them guide, let them ignite.

Forward Together. Welcome to the vanguard of change. Your mission begins now. Welcome to Netcon.

Enter the fold
Subscribe to our newsletter

© Copyright 2024 Netcon Technologies. All rights reserved. All logos and trademarks used belong to their respective owners.