Moving away from on-premises applications and IT infrastructures as part of digital transformation strategies increase your digital footprint. The more connected cloud applications and services you add to your IT stack, the more access points you create. Cybercriminals continuously evolve their threat methodologies, using control weaknesses as backdoors into your organization’s networks, systems, and software. Meanwhile, new data security and privacy legislation and industry standards require you to manage your cybersecurity posture and maintain governance over your entire supply stream. Continuous cybersecurity monitoring offers a way to gain valuable insight into and prove governance over new security risks that can impact your company.
What is cybersecurity monitoring?
Cybersecurity monitoring is a threat detection strategy that uses automation to continuously scan your IT ecosystem for control weaknesses, often sending alerts to a security incident and event management (SIEM) system. This enables the organization’s incident response team to mitigate information security risks before they become data security incidents.
As you scale your digital footprint, your IT department can no longer manage cybersecurity monitoring manually. Leveraging automation that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) gives you the ability to aggregate your control monitoring data and helps prioritize alerts. These technologies allow your organization to respond to threats more efficiently and effectively, enhancing your cybersecurity posture.
Why is continuous monitoring critical?
Organizations increasingly adopt continuous monitoring for various reasons, including security, vendor risk management, compliance, and continued business growth.
Cybercriminals never stop looking for ways to gain unauthorized access to enterprise IT ecosystems. In fact, 37% of polled C-level security executives said they received more than 10,000 alerts each month and that 52% of those alerts were identified as false positives.
An inability to appropriately prioritize alerts means that your IT security team may not be responding to actual risks fast enough. Cybersecurity monitoring with automated solutions helps your organization prioritize the alerts so that your team can reduce noise and better secure your IT stack.
Vendor risk management
You can’t control your vendors, but you can prove that you know their security posture matches your risk tolerance. According to the 2022 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report, 62% of system intrusion incidents were derived from a vendor. Using an automated solution that passively monitors your vendors’ IT deployments gives you valuable visibility into how well they manage cybersecurity risk. The right tools can provide you with confidence in your vendors, offering insight that mitigates the risk and costs of a third-party data breach.
Over the last five years, governments and industry standards organizations have released new compliance requirements. By 2023, Gartner has found that 65% of the world will have their data protected in some way through privacy protection laws.
Although privacy and security differ in many ways, they also have certain overlaps. Many privacy laws require organizations to create IT architectures with “privacy by design” or “security by design,” suggesting continuous monitoring using new technologies.
To grow your business, you need customers to trust you with their data. Regardless of who your customers — or their customers — are, you collect, store, and transmit their non-public information as part of your operations. Meanwhile, as part of your business plan, you likely add more SaaS services to reduce operational costs.
Protecting data security is integral to business development. You need to secure customer data while you’re increasing your digital footprint. At the same time, your customers need the same assurance over your security monitoring that you need as part of your vendor risk management strategies. Continuously monitoring your ecosystem gives your customers the validation they need to trust you as a business partner.
How does continuous cybersecurity monitoring work?
A continuous cybersecurity monitoring plan formalizes the steps your organization takes to identify IT systems, categorize them by risk level, apply mitigating controls, continuously enforce the controls, and respond to new risks or threats. The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) classifies information security continuous monitoring with the following steps:
Maintain awareness across all systems within your organization and your vendors.
Understand threats and threat activities
Assess all security controls
Collecting, correlating, and analyzing security-related information
Provide actionable communication of security status across all tiers of the organization
Active management of risk by organizational officials.
Integrate risk management and information security frameworks.
Key areas of continuous monitoring
There are two main types of cyber monitoring that comprise continuous cybersecurity monitoring. Each has its own unique cyber landscape and threats that require monitoring in different forms in order to ensure your organization is protected.
Network security monitoring
A network security threat is any attempt to breach your network and obtain access to your data. There are different kinds of network threats, and each has different goals. Network security threats can be internal or external, structured or unstructured. With threats in a wide variety of forms, protecting your network is essential in preventing an attack before it happens.
Endpoint security monitoring
These consist of network devices, software, sensors, and other ‘things’ which enable the world to be connected throughout physical space. Also known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Outdated software, insecure ecosystem interfaces, and device mismanagement are all things that can allow a cybercriminal to breach your organization’s ecosystem.
How do you implement a continuous cybersecurity monitoring plan?
Creating a risk-based plan allows you to establish a continuous monitoring plan that aligns with your organization’s business goals. As part of your continuous monitoring plan, you should:
- Identify all data stored on networks, systems, software, and devices.
- Identify all users and devices accessing your IT stack.
- Set risk levels for data, users, and devices
- Analyze the likelihood that data, users, devices, networks, systems, and software will be breached
- Decide whether to accept, refuse, transfer, or mitigate risk.
- Apply controls that mitigate risk
- Monitor ecosystem to ensure that mitigating controls are effective
- Respond to any new risks as rapidly as possible
- Document activities to prove governance over your continuous controls monitoring
Additionally, you should re-evaluate your risk assessment as business needs shift, such as incorporating new SaaS services for business agility.
What are the benefits of continuous cybersecurity monitoring?
Engaging in continuous cybersecurity monitoring can help your organization in many ways. On the surface, monitoring helps to reduce risk through mitigating common threats that can leave data compromised. More specifically, continuous cybersecurity monitoring gives an organization control over its data. By knowing where and to whom data is sent to, the impact of a third-party data breach is reduced and potential costs from a breach are also lessened. Continuous cybersecurity monitoring allows you to have an acute awareness of the threats and vulnerabilities within your organization’s cyberspace.
How SecurityScorecard enables robust continuous cybersecurity monitoring
SecurityScorecard’s security ratings platform gives you an outside-in view of your organization’s cybersecurity posture. We continuously scan your entire IT ecosystem, including vendors, across ten risk factor categories, including IP reputation, DNS health, network security, web application security, endpoint security, patching cadence, hacker chatter, information leakage, and social engineering.
Our easy-to-read A-F rating scale gives you at-a-glance visibility into your controls’ effectiveness. With our platform, you can drill down into each risk factor category to gain detailed information about weaknesses, helping your security team prioritize remediation activities for enhanced security.