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Eliminating Opportunity Is The Key To Effective Cybersecurity | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

Crime is a complex phenomenon that has been studied by criminologists, sociologists, and psychologists for decades. While the motivations behind criminal behavior may vary from person to person, crime can essentially be boiled down to three key factors: motive, means, and opportunity. In the context of cybercrime, there really isn’t anything you can do to control motive or means. However, there are proactive steps you can take to reduce the opportunity for cybercriminals—and that is the crux of effective cybersecurity.

Motive and Means

Motive refers to the underlying reason why someone commits a crime. This can range from financial gain to personal revenge, and everything in between. In the case of cybercrime, motives can be particularly diverse. Some attackers are looking for financial gain, while others may be seeking to steal intellectual property or valuable data. Hacktivists may be motivated by political or social causes, while cybercriminals are typically trying to cash in, and nation-state threat actors may simply be looking to cause chaos and disrupt systems.

Means refers to the tools and skills that an individual possesses to commit a crime. In the context of cybercrime, this could include knowledge of programming languages, hacking tools, or other technical expertise. It can also be a function of underground or Dark Web marketplaces—access brokers providing a foot in the door of sensitive networks or systems, and exchanges that offer exploits and malicious code. The availability of these means can be influenced by a number of factors, including access to training, equipment, or online resources.

Reducing or Eliminating Opportunity

While motive and means are important considerations when it comes to cybercrime, what we can control is opportunity. Vulnerability management, exposure management, attack surface management, and penetration testing are all segments of the cybersecurity market focused on the objective of identifying and proactively addressing scenarios that offer an opportunity threat actors might take advantage of.

By understanding the way that cybercriminals think and act, and by being aware of the complete attack surface, we can identify likely attack paths and take proactive steps to mitigate or remediate exposure to risk. This involves being aware of the potential vulnerabilities in our systems and taking steps to minimize the opportunity for attackers to exploit them.

One key aspect of reducing opportunity is increasing visibility. In the world of cybercrime, visibility is essential. This means having a comprehensive understanding of the systems, networks, and data that are within an organization’s scope. By having this visibility, it becomes easier to identify potential vulnerabilities and attack paths that attackers may use to gain access to sensitive data or systems.

Another important consideration is the need for proactive risk management. This involves taking steps to reduce the likelihood and impact of a potential cyber attack. This could involve measures such as implementing strong authentication procedures, regular vulnerability assessments, and monitoring for unusual activity on the network.

Risk Management

Effective risk management also involves understanding the way that attackers think and operate. This means keeping up to date with the latest trends and tactics that are being used by cybercriminals, and understanding the motivations behind these attacks. This knowledge can then be used to identify likely attack paths and to take proactive steps to mitigate or remediate exposure to risk.

One key approach to reducing opportunity is the concept of defense in depth. This involves implementing multiple layers of security that increase the level of effort or skill a threat actor might need and can help to reduce the likelihood of a successful attack. This could include measures such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and access controls.

The Key Word is ‘Continuous’

It is worth noting that reducing opportunity is not a one-time event but requires continuous monitoring and maintenance. The key word is “continuous.” Gartner issued a report in 2022 that recognizes that the cybersecurity tools organizations rely on may be good at what they do, but none of them are sufficient in and of themselves. They introduced the idea of Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) and described how these tools and processes need to be combined into a holistic and continuous effort to identify and eliminate potential threats.

Attackers are constantly evolving their tactics and techniques, and organizations must keep up to date with the latest threats and vulnerabilities. Regular risk assessments, penetration testing, and security audits can help to identify potential weaknesses in the system and allow for proactive remediation.

We can’t control the motives or means of cybercriminals, but organizations can take proactive steps to reduce the opportunity for them to act. Prevention and detection and response tools are still useful and necessary, but effective cybersecurity essentially comes down to the ability to proactively recognize and remove the opportunity for cyberattacks.

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National Cyber Security