Every organization needs to be prepared to have their security breached. It's critical to have the capacity to monitor for signs of intrusion so that an appropriate plan can be triggered to minimize damage. Let's look at how network security can be improved at your organization by making these four improvements to network monitoring.
Map Out Your Current Architecture and Ensure Accuracy
Having access to as much relevant data as possible is the first step to improving your monitoring capability. Aside from the obvious information available such as firewall logs and network data, your IT department should also be looking at source location of data requests as well as access logs. For example, if requests are suddenly being generated from China and you are a US company with national-only clientele, that should be cause for some concern.
As part of this requirement, empower security staff to have the means to request this information from other teams with ease. Ensure there is a process in place so that if here is any cause for concern, they can have access to the information they require straight away. What you want to avoid is having staff tied up in process during the middle of an attack.
Another aspect to mapping out your architecture is understanding what can flow in and out of the network and where the endpoints are located. This is by no means an easy task and will take substantial effort. Over time though your staff can understand what is typical usage and if suddenly there are abnormalities with network usage, they can investigate.
Arm Your Defences
Every network is going to have weaknesses and you need to know where to keep the closest eye on. If through monitoring you can visualize an attacker working their way through a network, based on your earlier work you can see which systems the attacker can hop onto next.
Knowing the value of each system and the information that it hosts lets your team plan in advance appropriate next steps. If a system contains sensitive data for example, your team should be taking preemptive measures to isolate the system.
Monitor News and Trends
Zero-day security flaws are continuously increasing giving vendors less time to respond by patching their product lines and informing purchasers are vulnerabilities. Your company need to take measures into its own hands by monitoring growing security threats through appropriate news sources.
This information should be filtered to only what is relevant based on your current IT service to avoid information overload to your monitoring staff. For example, if your network is comprised of Unix-based machines only, then you should be weeding out information pertaining to Windows threats.
Use Appropriate Metrics
A key part to every organization's assessment as to how well they are performing is by taking correct metrics. In terms of network security, measuring how many vulnerabilities were patched by the team that could have left a system potentially breached provides valuable feedback to management.
Trends should demonstrate whether your staff is keeping up to speed and whether you may need to expand the department. If the number of vulnerabilities patched has seemed to hit a glass ceiling throughout a quarter, this could be a sign that staff can't keep up.
Improving your company's network security for best results takes preplanning and doesn't happen overnight. Ensure you have taken steps to know your network assets and are armed with the right information to minimize threat damage. Assume that it's not a question whether you will be attacked, but a matter of how well you are prepared to deal with one.
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