As the recent Quora breach that compromised 100 million user accounts demonstrates, the threat of a cyber attack is ever present in the modern IT environment. Cybercrime and data breaches continue to plague small businesses and enterprises alike, and network security teams are constantly working to stay one step ahead of an attack. This is no easy task since intrusion attempts occur daily and are constantly evolving to find the smallest weakness to exploit.
Attackers can employ direct attacks on data centers and clouds, enact crypto-jacking threats to mine cryptocurrency, devise advanced persistent threat (APT) attacks to extract data while remaining hidden within a network, or even add fileless malware to manipulate in-memory vulnerabilities and access sensitive system resources.
For these reasons, it’s more important than ever for IT teams to evaluate their current security posture to ensure the safety of their sensitive information and assets. This is particularly true in hybrid cloud environments where discrete platforms take siloed approaches to security that can make infrastructure-wide visibility and a holistic approach to security policies extremely difficult. In this piece, we’ll dive into the basics of security posture and explain how Guardicore Centra can help you improve yours.
Security posture defined
Security posture is the overall defensive capability a business has over its computing system infrastructure. Also referred to as cybersecurity posture, the term focuses not only on hardware and software resources, but also the people, policies, and processes in place to maintain security. It is then necessary to prioritize what areas require the most protection, managing the greatest risk, identify weaknesses, and have incident response and disaster recovery plans in place in the event a breach does occur. All of these factors determine the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of an organization’s security posture.
Identifying the areas that deserve attention
In order to determine an organization’s security posture, first it’s the responsibility of a security team to have complete and thorough understanding of the risks associated with the operation of their computing systems. Research must be conducted to quantify attack surfaces, determine risk tolerance, and identify areas within the infrastructure that require more focus.
This planning stage is particularly difficult when attempting to account for the complexities that come with a hybrid cloud infrastructure, as the dynamics of a hybrid cloud make it difficult to get a holistic view of enterprise information systems. Often different policies and controls are in place for different endpoints that exist in different clouds or on-premises.
All of this internal assessment and process scrutiny is essential to develop a foundation for a robust security posture. However, the right tools are required to enforce policies that support it. Modern integrated security techniques such as micro-segmentation and process-level visibility, which are enabled by solutions like Guardicore Centra, help enterprises ensure that they are effectively implementing their strategy and capable of meeting the security challenges of the modern hybrid cloud.
The impact of enhanced visibility on security posture
The heterogeneous nature of a hybrid cloud environment makes it difficult to scale security policies, since there usually is not an effective way to account for the entire infrastructure. Further, because you are dealing with multiple platforms and varying security controls, the possibility of blind spots and oversights increases.
The visualization features of Guardicore Centra were created with these challenges in mind. Using Centra, enterprises can drill down and rapidly discover specific applications and flows within a network, regardless of the particular platform a given node may be running on. Since Guardicore can provide visibility to the process level and enable inspection of systems down to the TCP/UDP port level, blind spots that may otherwise become exploit targets can be eliminated. In a hybrid cloud environment this means you are able to automatically and rapidly learn how applications behave within your network to build a baseline of expected behavior, and better understand how to harden your infrastructure.
The value of micro-segmentation
Given that the greater potential for lateral movement an attacker can perform after a breach, the more damage they can do, it is easy to conceptualize the value of micro-segmentation. We’re all familiar with the benefits of network segmentation using techniques such as access control lists, firewalls and VLANs, and micro-segmentation brings these down to the most granular levels and applies them across the entire hybrid cloud infrastructure. For users of Centra, this means least-access policies can be implemented that limit access to specific groups of users (e.g. database admins), restrict access to certain applications (e.g. a MySQL database server), and restrict access to specific ports (e.g. TCP 3306), with the flexibility of process-level context and cross-platform coverage.
As an added benefit, Centra suggests rules based on analysis of historical data, and development of robust policies becomes significantly easier. By removing complexity, enabling micro-segmentation, and providing process-level visibility, Centra reduces blind spots and limits exposed attack surfaces, two key components of improving security posture.
The importance of threat detection and proactive responses
In addition to enhanced visibility and micro-segmentation, identifying unrecognized and malicious intrusions and reducing dwell-time is an important part of improving security posture. A pragmatic, modern organization understands that despite the best laid plans, breaches may occur and if and when they do, they must be rapidly detected, contained, and remediated.
To this end, Centra is uniquely capable of meeting the breach detection and incident response challenges enterprises with hybrid cloud infrastructures face. Centra uses three different detection methods (Dynamic Deception, Reputation Analysis, and Policy-Based Detection) to rapidly identify and react to attacks. By doing so, Centra helps ensure that in the event a security breach does occur, you are able to reduce the damage and minimize dwell time. This proactive approach to threat detection and response rounds out the Centra offering and helps you ensure your hybrid cloud infrastructure is secure and flexible enough to meet the challenges of modern IT security without sacrificing the performance of your infrastructure or adding unnecessary complexity.
Interested in learning more?
Guardicore Centra can help you significantly enhance your security posture, particularly in complex, difficult-to-manage, hybrid cloud environments. The benefits of hybrid cloud infrastructure are clear from a capex and scalability standpoint, but the tech is not without inherent risk. Hybrid cloud suffers with a myriad of siloed approaches to security policies and controls for reducing attack surfaces in an environment.
Adopting a proactive approach to security and leveraging security solutions that enable micro-segmentation are important steps towards enhancing your security posture and protecting your systems from falling victim to the next data breach.
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