Cybersecurity threats and organizational challenges related to information security are becoming more complex by the minute. To understand these elements at a high level and effectively manage risk, organizations need an overarching framework to gauge their relative cybersecurity strength and readiness. This comprehensive way of thinking about organization-wide security strength and resiliency is often referred to as a cybersecurity posture, or IT security posture. Below, we will help explain in detail the importance and relevance of this concept.
What is Security Posture Commonly Defined As?
A modern enterprise needs a way to measure the overall strength of its efforts to protect its assets, whether those assets are hardware, data, networks, services or applications. Without a broad framework to assess each element of organizational cybersecurity, it becomes difficult to understand how various parts of an enterprise’s defenses affect the whole. The old truism that a “chain is only as strong as its weakest link” is especially relevant in cybersecurity — and an effective security posture assessment is one way to ensure that weaknesses or gaps can be quickly addressed. Such assessments are also a key part of ensuring that a security posture is continuously being improved or upgraded to deal with emerging threats.
What Does IT Security Posture Entail?
When looking at an organization’s posture, it is typical to consider a few different elements:
- The security controls or measures in place to deter attacks and protect assets
- The ability of an enterprise to quickly react and mitigate or remediate
- The overall management of cybersecurity defenses
Part of creating a strong posture includes an accurate inventory of assets, both perimeter and core. These assets may be on-premises or in the cloud, necessitating specific cloud security posture management tactics. Part of this process includes determining the criticality of assets. Unless you understand which assets are truly business-critical, you cannot effectively protect them or gain visibility into how attacks are likely to occur and the risks that are present.
A strong posture also includes a deep understanding of the efficacy of security controls and the interplay between these controls. Additionally, it is critically important to understand and map your attack surface — all the points where an attacker can attempt to gain entry and steal key assets.
Finally, a robust posture includes an understanding of risk. It’s not enough to know that vulnerabilities exist or even how severe they may be. An organization must understand how likely these vulnerabilities are to be exploited, how they could be exploited and the specific risk they pose to each security environment. Without this context, to improve security posture becomes a far more difficult — if not impossible — task.
Using Software Tools to More Effectively Manage a Security Posture
All organizations should be committed to the goal of continuous security posture improvement. This includes making regular assessments to identify vulnerabilities then taking steps to address them. As mentioned above, this requires an accurate inventory, a clearly mapped attack surface and a sophisticated grasp of risk.
Software tools with a security posture dashboard and other core features can help make this process easier. Ultimately, however, it’s important to integrate tools that offer guided prioritization of exposures based on critical risk context. Tools that probe your defenses for gaps on a continuous basis — then offer remediation guidance based on critical asset risk evaluation — are some of the best weapons defenders can wield against today’s adversaries. They also help make the key objective of continuous security posture improvement attainable.