Security operations center, Part 3: Finding your weakest link

Any organization with data assets is a possible target for an attacker. Hackers use various forms of advanced cyberattack techniques to obtain valuable company data; in fact, a study by the University of Maryland showed that a cyberattack takes place every 39 seconds, or 2,244 times a day on average. This number has increased exponentially since the COVID-19 pandemic forced most employees to work remotely, and drastically increased the attack surface of organizations around the world.

Another study by Security Intelligence revealed that the average cost of a data breach to an organization is $3.92 million. Such a levy is enough to put a company permanently out of business. While the numbers may feel overwhelming, there are ways to help level the playing field. Enterprises must use due diligence to stay two steps ahead of cybercriminals.

This is where an efficient security operations center (SOC) strategy comes into play. An SOC strategy is fundamental to building a robust security posture, and improving overall security operations and response. In part 1 and part 2 of this blog series, we talked about what an SOC is, and the typical day-to-day tasks of an SOC analyst. In this blog, we’re going to discuss how you can identify and improve the weakest links in your IT infrastructure, and build an SOC strategy.

Identifying the chinks in your armor 

Attackers are more likely to target a weak point in your system rather than penetrate a sturdy component. For instance, attackers don’t usually try to obtain encrypted information, since some algorithms can take years to decode. On the other hand, a broken authentication and session management component is comparatively easier to breach, so it’s crucial to identify the weak points in your system before working out a robust SOC strategy.

Here are five tips that can help you identify vulnerabilities in your system.

1. Look for weak user authentication

Many security breaches occur because authentication vulnerabilities permit unauthorized access to applications, systems, and data. An application that protects valuable information should use a strong authentication technique like multi-factor authentication. Weak passwords, inefficient lockout mechanisms, and slack password reset methods are a few indications of weak user authentication. A penetration test on your system can reveal vulnerabilities like these in your authentication system.

Employing good practices like strong password policies, changing default credentials, disabling unused accounts, and utilizing secure password retrieval methods can help prevent an attacker from gaining access to your data.

2. Identify software vulnerabilities 

A software vulnerability is a security-related defect in your software that may enable a threat actor to invade your network and cause damage. For example, vulnerable entry points to a web application may include insecure sockets, registries, environment variables, command-line arguments, protocol handlers, HTTP headers, and more. MITRE’s 2019 CWE Top 25 Most Dangerous Software Errors presents commonly found errors that are often exploited by threat actors.

It’s crucial to ensure that security testing for such vulnerabilities is carried out periodically, and timely patches and updates are provided by your software vendor to remediate any issues.

3. Assess your employees’ security awareness 

Regardless of any top-grade security measures, your employees ultimately make or break your company’s security posture. Hackers often target the psychological flaws in humans by using increasingly sophisticated social engineering techniques to extort valuable information. To counter this, companies must focus on employee diligence and training, in addition to optimized internal controls and procedures.

Some useful training and testing methodologies include quizzes, workplace security reviews, phishing attack simulations, cybersecurity workshops, and more. Finding creative ways to train your employees on cybersecurity awareness goes a long way in preventing possible data breaches in the long term.

4. Evaluate privileged accounts

Privileged users are an important part of any organization, and they usually have access to the most valuable information in a network. Privileged users like administrators, network engineers, and security analysts require unrestricted access to servers, applications, devices, and databases to perform their jobs. However, this means that they’re at greater risk of being targets of an advanced persistent threat or a social engineering attack.

Privileged user activity monitoring allows you to look for malicious activity without impacting productivity. By monitoring these accounts, you can detect privilege escalation, spot behavioral anomalies, and verify that the actions of privileged users are legitimate.

5. Spot hidden backdoor programs 

A backdoor program is a malicious script that allows unauthorized and often unrestricted access to a threat actor. Backdoors look like normal pieces of code, and are often hidden inside a legitimate program or file. Backdoors can be difficult to spot since they’re usually discreet and well-disguised.

Searching for known malware signatures in your system can help identify backdoors. Changing passwords regularly, monitoring network activity, and using an efficient security information and event management (SIEM) solution help identify backdoors in your system.

Are you looking for a comprehensive SIEM solution that can help you identify weak links in your system? Try out a free, 30-day trial of Log360 to test its features for yourself.

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*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from ManageEngine Blog authored by Samson Santharaj. Read the original post at: