Cybersecurity Visibility: Controlling Your Environment
Organizations need to look at and understand what is happening inside their networks to protect their data and consequently their reputation. Visibility is the foundation of sound cybersecurity: applying to physical devices, applications, and data – you must be able to see it in order to control it and, by extension, protect it. And because the traditional network perimeter no longer exists, the challenges of visibility are more difficult than ever.
A recent report from the Ponemon Institute indicates that greater visibility into applications, data, and devices can significantly lower an organization’s security risk. Cited in the same report, more than half (55%) of the organizations who responded indicate they are not investing in visibility and discovery solutions. Every organization, regardless of size, needs a focused, strategic approach to visibility.
Technical, Operational, and Organizational Visibility
Visibility requires technical, operational, and organizational planning. Broken down into these three distinct areas, visibility becomes significantly more achievable and controllable.
Technical visibility pertains to external threats and vulnerabilities within your environment. Before you can control and protect a device or a connection, you need to know it exists. Increasingly complex and fragmented IT environments present a growing challenge for organizations, so the ability to understand what devices you have, where they are located, and how they are being used are critical first steps. From a contextual perspective, you need to understand their functions, who owns them, and their current operating status, in real time.
Operational visibility involves operational processes and associated data – who has access to what data and why.
Here are some questions you should be asking:
- What data can each person access?
- What is their level of responsibility for that data?
- What applications do they need to be efficient?
- What data is derived from those applications and where is it stored?
As well, you will need to understand all of this throughout the lifecycle of the user; from onboarding to off-boarding, ensuring users are added to and removed from systems, as appropriate, is imperative.
Organizational visibility revolves around potential threats to the business’s intellectual property, brand, or reputation. This important, contextual, and often overlooked area of visibility requires strategic approaches and processes, not just technical solutions. A human-centric approach to this area of visibility is critical, as you work to assess specifically what it encompasses and how to continuously track and monitor it. It is important to remember that data intersects everything, including organizational visibility.
The Path Forward
With an understanding of the importance of developing this converged and strategic approach to your cyber visibility, begin with an objective assessment. Seek answers to the following topline questions:
- What hardware, software, and data does my organization leverage?
- Where is it located?
- How is it used?
- Who has access to it?
The digital technologies, tools, services, and capabilities needed to protect your environment should be identified through the process of deliberately studying your security assessment. Investment in this step lays the foundation of true protection on your path to organizational cybersecurity maturity.