How To Conduct A Security Posture Validation Exercise In 3 Steps

Security Posture Validation Exercise

Cybersecurity is all-important to modern organizations. Every company is a digital one, and this opens them to severe cybersecurity risks.

If mismanaged, cybersecurity gaps can sink a company beyond repair. While it’s easy to say companies must shore up their cybersecurity, achieving this goal is challenging.

Much of this challenge comes from the advanced methods attackers employ. As AI and ML usage increases in such attacks, conducting frequent security posture validation exercises is critical

Here’s how you can conduct a security posture validation process in your company and spot any gaps in your cybersecurity.

Acces your inventory existing controls

How good is your current security posture and do you have the right tools for the job? Often, security teams know what capabilities they lack and the tools they need to plug gaps. However, budgetary constraints and a lack of executive buy-in scupper these plans.

A posture validation exercise goes a long way toward securing buy-in since you can quantify the damage if the risk is leveraged by an attacker.

Prepare a list of business-critical assets and grade them according to the security risks they face. Connect these risks to existing gaps in your security posture and you’ll have a clear map of where your cybersecurity stands.

Risk measurement is another critical part of your security posture. Often, companies know what assets they have but do not classify them according to the risk of a breach.

For instance, a cloud container central to your app’s functionality is riskier than a static table that contains reference data. 

Grading assets according to risk if breached and business criticality will help you figure out what you ought to prioritize first. Once you have this list, explore what your attack surface is. Your attack surface includes every potential breach point and the assets exposed to those points. 

An attack surface map gives you the security landscape you must protect. In modern organizations, this is a sprawl and is tough to secure.

However, you can use zero-trust tools to overcome this challenge. Before using them though, you must create a map of your surface and understand which assets you must prioritize security for.

Review breach tracking and measurement processes

How do you know if a breach has occurred and do you receive notifications soon enough for you to mitigate serious damage? Every security team has controls in place but they often lag when notifying teams of breaches.

One reason for this lag is a static security posture. If your team does not conduct continuous security validation, eventually attackers will breach it. The lack of continuous security validation is a huge gap in most security postures and you must plug it quickly.

Measuring the impact of a breach and quantifying it is another critical aspect of a security posture validation exercise. You must have methods in place to quantify the business impact of a breach and what it will cost your company’s bottom line. These numbers will help you justify further investment in company security beyond the bare minimum.

Also, review how often you monitor configuration changes and access policies. Most companies tend to set and forget them and this is a critical vulnerability.

Use a tool to automate access control and certificate renewals so that you have more time to review critical issues and overall network activity.

Vulnerability management is an ongoing process at every company these days. Check the workflows within it. How well do you perform backups and apply patches? How often do you review apps for vulnerabilities? How do you communicate these vulnerabilities to executives and address them?

You don’t have to redesign your program from scratch. However, you must understand where you stand and where updates are needed.

Evaluate your worst-case scenario plans

While it might seem like a pessimistic option, evaluating your worst-case scenarios and planning for the worst will give you a lot of security. By assuming the worst, you can rest assured that even if those conditions do come to pass, you will always be prepared.

The first step is to evaluate how good your backup plans are. Are you storing backups offsite and away from your usual infrastructure? How often are you backing up your data and who has access to them?

It’s usually a good idea to grant access to a separate set of individuals from those who have regular security access since this prevents malicious insider attacks.

When reviewing your backup plans and worst-case scenarios, check whether they conform to commonly followed security standards such as MITRE ATT&CK. These frameworks give you an easy way to review your security posture and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you conduct such an exercise.

Also, review how you’ll handle licensing and business processes if you’re running on backups. You will be simultaneously putting out fires caused by the data breach so remember that you’ll have fewer resources than normal. 

Preparation is key

Cybersecurity is as much about preparation as it is about taking action. A security posture validation exercise straddles these two and helps you minimize most of your cybersecurity risk quickly.

Follow the guidelines in this article to ensure your security policies and controls are in the right place.

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