As we move into 2023, it is important for organizations and enterprises to be aware of the potential security risks that they may face and to have effective strategies in place to manage and mitigate these risks. Cybersecurity has become even more pressing in recent years as the use of technology has become more prevalent and interconnected.
The growing concerns in cybersecurity can be attributed to several factors, including the increasing sophistication of cyber attacks, the growing number of devices connected to the internet, and the reliance on the internet for everything from communication and commerce to critical infrastructure.
This underscores the need for organizations and enterprises to increase their capabilities in threat exposure management, which involves identifying, analyzing, and mitigating the risks and vulnerabilities that could expose the organization to cyber threats.
The growing risk of ransomware
One major concern in cybersecurity is the increasing sophistication of cyber attacks. Hackers and cyber criminals are constantly finding new ways to breach systems and steal sensitive information, and they are using more advanced tools and techniques to do so.
In 2022, there were several major ransomware attacks that could have been prevented or mitigated with better threat exposure management. These attacks can be highly disruptive, causing significant downtime and financial loss for businesses.
For example, the major ransomware attack that occurred in August affected several major companies, including a leading pharmaceutical company and a major transportation company. The hackers were able to gain access to the networks of these companies and distribute the ransomware, causing significant disruption to their operations and even obtaining tens of millions of customer healthcare records.
Better threat exposure management could have helped to prevent or mitigate such incidents. For instance, if the affected companies had effective processes in place for identifying and responding to potential threats, such as regularly monitoring their networks for unusual activity and applying patches and updates to their systems, they may have been able to identify and mitigate the threat before it caused significant damage.
Another example of a major security breach in 2022 was the attack on Colonial Pipeline, which is a major fuel pipeline in the United States. Hackers used ransomware to disrupt the pipeline’s operations, causing fuel shortages and causing the company to temporarily shut down the pipeline. The attack not only caused significant financial damage, but it also had serious consequences for national security as it disrupted the supply of fuel to several states.
Increased exposure from connected devices
Another major concern in cybersecurity is the growing number of devices connected to the internet, known as the Internet of Things (IoT). These devices, which include everything from smart thermostats and security cameras to industrial control systems, are often vulnerable to cyber attacks due to their lack of strong security measures. In 2022, there were several major security breaches that involved IoT devices, including an attack on a hospital in which hackers used a compromised security camera to gain access to the hospital’s network.
The reliance on the internet for critical infrastructure is another growing concern in cybersecurity. As more and more systems and services rely on the internet, the potential for cyber attacks to disrupt these systems becomes greater.
Increased need to address the human factor
Another trend that is expected to continue in 2023 is the growing use of phishing attacks. Phishing attacks involve the use of fake emails or websites to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial information. In 2022, there were several major phishing attacks that could have been prevented or mitigated with better threat exposure management.
For example, the Emotet phishing campaign that reoccurred in early 2022 affected numerous organizations, including government agencies and healthcare providers. The hackers were able to gain access to the networks of these organizations and distribute malware, causing significant disruption to their operations.
Again, better threat exposure management could have helped to prevent or mitigate this incident. If the affected organizations had had in place effective controls to prevent unauthorized access to their systems, such as two-factor authentication and employee training on how to identify and report phishing attacks, they may have been able to avoid or minimize the impact of the attack.
Establishing a common framework for addressing threats
Note that a lot of these attack methodologies and campaigns are not exactly new. The Ryuk ransomware attack and Emotet phishing attack originated as early as 2018, but every year there are resurgences, which grow more and more potent as the amount of data involved also grows.
One way that organizations can improve their threat exposure management practices is by using the MITRE ATT&CK framework as a model and strategy. The MITRE ATT&CK (Adversarial Tactics, Techniques, and Common Knowledge) framework is a comprehensive resource that provides a common language and understanding of the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by cyber adversaries.
It is a valuable tool for organizations looking to improve their threat exposure management practices by providing a detailed understanding of the ways in which cyber threats can manifest and the types of defenses that can be put in place to mitigate those threats.
Staying abreast of emerging trends such as the increasing use of ransomware and phishing attacks, and by adopting effective practices such as the use of the MITRE ATT&CK framework, organizations can significantly reduce their risk of exposure to cyber threats and protect themselves from damaging incidents. By improving their threat exposure management practices, businesses can build a stronger and more resilient cybersecurity posture, enabling them to better navigate the constantly evolving threat landscape.
Organizations can use threat exposure management to respond to any potential threats that do arise. This may include implementing incident response plans to quickly address any cyber attacks or breaches, as well as conducting regular audits and assessments to identify any potential weaknesses in the organization’s security posture.
Overall, threat exposure management is an effective way for businesses to address cybersecurity issues and protect themselves from potential threats. By understanding their assets and vulnerabilities, and implementing measures to reduce their threat exposure, businesses can significantly reduce their risk of cyber attacks and protect their sensitive information.
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