The Four Pillars of a Cybersecurity Strategy That Works

Understanding the threat landscape is one thing; extracting and leveraging actionable threat intelligence to reinforce an organization’s defensive posture is another. Threat intelligence empowers organizations by providing them with the knowledge and visibility needed to make well-informed decisions about their security defenses and respond faster to current and evolving threats.

In our new Hacker’s Almanac , the final installment in our three-part series, Radware provides a field guide on how to use actionable threat intelligence to better practice, anticipate, detect and respond to cyber aggressions. Having a strong cybersecurity strategy in place is a core component of that response.

[You may also like: Series II of the Hacker’s Almanac: Tactics and Techniques]

The best cybersecurity strategy is one that works

There is no standard or single way of going about building a cybersecurity strategy. It is a plan of action defined by the organization with the objective to improve the organization’s security posture and resilience against attacks through strategic planning, refinement, and repetition. How an organization develops its cybersecurity strategy is based on its specific business needs.

When designing a cybersecurity strategy, consider these four pillars of strength: practice, anticipate, detect, and respond (see Figure 1). The four pillars combined with a healthy threat intelligence program will help an organization build and maintain a strong security posture that will evolve as the threat landscape and the attack surfaces change.

Figure 1: The four pillars of a cybersecurity strategy
Figure 1: The four pillars of a cybersecurity strategy
  • Practice. One of the easiest ways to deter threat actors is with well-trained employees. Awareness campaigns and interactive training can help an organization prevent significant threats. Education programs will empower employees to be the first observants and initiate a proactive posture with a people-centric approach.
  • In addition to employee security training, organizations can also measure their current position and improve their security controls by simulating attacks, leveraging Red and Blue team exercises. At the executive level, tabletop exercises can enable members of the executive management to prepare for potential breaches, through role plays aimed at practicing incident response plans related to a given scenario.
  • Anticipate. Nobody knows what the future holds. However, strong indicators can enable analysts to forecast trends and threats. Disrupting a campaign can be as easy as preparing for it with strategic intelligence. Organizations can better anticipate attacks by reviewing alerts about global trends and political events relating to their industry and geography. This information strengthens security operations with the information necessary to prepare and “shield up” for possible cyber aggressions.
  • Detect. Detecting the undetectable is impossible, but with full-spectrum visibility and good analytics, in parallel with actionable intelligence, security analysts and operators can detect potential and targeted security threats based on known indicators of compromise (IOCs). IOCs are clues and evidence of malicious activity originating from a reactive security process. When adequately leveraged, operations can stop the most common and known attacks directed at their infrastructure.
  • Respond. Responding to security events can be very stressful. However, with a proactive threat intelligence program, a good incident response plan, and proper preparation, organizations can react quickly to security events and make informed, intelligence-backed decisions, resulting in quicker containment and recovery. Providing customers and the public with timely, accurate information about incidents and breaches will strengthen customer relations, public opinion, and the organization’s reputation.

Asking the right questions after a threat has been neutralized is a critical part of responding to an event. This enables the threat intelligence team to start researching and addressing the new threat through a new Threat Intelligence Lifecycle.

[You may also like: Series I of the Hacker’s Almanac: The Threat Actors]

Being prepared is the key

The fact is, there is no silver bullet or single path to a strong security posture, and no shield is impenetrable. However, organizations that stay vigilant, shore up defenses, and create a healthy threat intelligence program will be better prepared to respond and maintain business operations when the inevitable happens.

For more advice on building a strong cybersecurity strategy and strengthening your security defenses, download Series III of the Hacker’s Almanac. For the complete collection of the Hacker’s Almanac, download Series I and Series II. The first two installments explored different classes of threat actors, their objectives, as well as common tactics, techniques, and procedures.

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Daniel Smith

Daniel is the Head of Research for Radware’s Threat Intelligence division. He helps produce actionable intelligence to protect against botnet-related threats by working behind the scenes to identify network and application-based vulnerabilities. Daniel brings over ten years of experience to the Radware Threat Intelligence division. Before joining, Daniel was a member of Radware’s Emergency Response Team (ERT-SOC), where he applied his unique expertise and intimate knowledge of threat actors’ tactics, techniques, and procedures to help develop signatures and mitigate attacks proactively for customers.

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