December 15, 2022
Security , Ransomware

Why It’s Time to Shift your Data Protection Mindset to Assume Breach

There is no denying that falling victim to data breaches in today’s environment has become extremely difficult, if not impossible, to escape. Virtually every business is a potential target. It’s no longer a question of “what if we get breached?”. The reality in which we now operate is “how often will we be breached.” A new cybersecurity study found that 108.9 million accounts were breached in the third quarter of 2022, a whopping 70% increase compared to the previous quarter. 

It has become abundantly clear that traditional security measures are no longer enough to protect critical data. Instead, we need to go further and adopt new ideas. The “assume breach” mentality rightly re-frames our thinking to operate in such a way that we expect our systems have already been breached. This mindset requires a proactive approach to safeguarding critical assets at their source, which may be a novel shift for many. But relying on conventional breach prevention tactics or a perimeter-only security approach leaves businesses vulnerable and ill-prepared for attacks targeting sensitive data. 

Instead, by treating environments as if they have already been compromised, organizations can effectively limit the trust placed in at-risk systems, processes, services, and networks. This distrust and ‘worst case scenario’ type of thinking is paramount. The assume breach mentality may feel like overkill initially, but top security professionals have discovered it results in proactive strategies that better protect assets from attackers. 

Let’s explore the five steps leading to the adoption of an assume breach approach:

  1. Understand the novel ways threat actors steal data, penetrate networks, and disrupt business. The first step towards making the shift is simply knowing the landscape. Tactics have evolved from phishing and malware to ransomware and others. Familiarizing yourself with the most current attack methods is necessary groundwork. 

  2. Learn to recognize the pitfalls of identity and rules-based access controls. Next, learning how attackers target privileged accounts and gain credentialed access to systems is essential. And you also need an understanding of vulnerabilities and security lapses most commonly exploited by threat actors that make it inside, as they can leave a path of destruction in their wake.

  3. Evaluate the risk factors. At this point, assessing which risk factors to consider once the network has been compromised and the assets most vulnerable to exfiltration is critical.

  4. Apply real-world applications to protect unstructured data against exfiltration. Review the various ways to safeguard critical data proactively. Innovative solutions include (i) Multifactor encryption, which eliminates centralized points of attack and failure in the face of an attack, (ii) Transparency into encrypted file usage trends that can detect anomalous adversarial behavior or malicious insider threat activity.

  5. Implement guidelines for an assume breach framework. Keep your focus on people, processes, and technology. These areas are keys to developing a new, cohesive, proactive mindset. 

Today’s increasingly sophisticated and malicious threat landscape is undoubtedly daunting and overwhelming. However, understanding how to move to an assume breach mentality and learning the scenarios for this approach allows you to create a practical blueprint toward proactive protection. Take, for example, one potential piece of the plan, multifactor encryption. This modern, decentralized approach to encryption protects organizations from data exfiltration, even when identity and rules-based access controls fail, and systems are compromised. Although the technology is advanced and revolutionary, the concept is simple, and the approach completely changes how data is protected. Moreover, it allows for the highest levels of data security without sacrificing business performance and productivity. 

Each organization’s assume breach stance will be unique and tailored to specific circumstances, but the proactive mindset is constant. Don’t wait for a breach. Take proactive steps today to mitigate damage. Be better prepared and protected for the long run. 

For more information, contact Atakama today. 

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