Gone are the days when a simple firewall and antivirus were the mainstays of your cybersecurity strategy. Today, you need a multi-tiered approach to security that includes advanced tactics and tools, including the utilization of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Artificial Intelligence has changed the game for both cyber-criminals and cyber-defenders. AI has allowed the bad guys to develop new ways to find and exploit the vulnerabilities that provide entry into a network. On the other hand, AI has also enabled defenders to proactively intercept cyber intruders.
Take firewalls for example. Traditional firewalls were set up to look for “known” threats. Essentially, that meant that the tool was on the lookout for programs that included malware signatures or code snippets. Although the list was always being updated, the firewall couldn’t catch anything that was NOT on the list. That meant that defenders were always a step behind the bad guys.
How Next-Gen Tools Find Unknown Threats
Modern (or Next-Generation) firewalls have additional capabilities that allow them to look for both “known” and “unknown” threats. An unknown threat is a piece of malicious code that has not been previously encountered. If no one has been exposed to it before, there’s no way to recognize the signature except to detect when something out of the ordinary is happening in a network or a connected device.
Firewalls aren’t the only next-gen tools in the cyber defenders’ arsenal. You may have heard of Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) or Managed Detection and Response (MDR). These are two other examples of security tools that also utilize Artificial Intelligence to identify unknown threats.
Here’s how they work. The software learns what normal activity on the device or network looks like. Then when something happens that does not fit the normal pattern, the tool stops whatever is happening, then triggers an alert, and moves into an investigative phase.
Threats from Zero-Day Vulnerabilities Lessened
The proactive capabilities of next-gen security software are what makes it a game changer for cyber defenders. The types of malware that can be created are endless, but the defender doesn’t have to know exactly what it is, just what kind of trail it might create. The ability to detect these previously unknown threats that zero-day vulnerabilities are less of a danger.
A zero-day vulnerability is a new hole discovered in a system or device that has not yet been patched. That doesn’t mean that security patches for software aren’t needed any more. They are, because security holes in software are continually being discovered and effective security has many layers.
Is Your IT Team Keeping Up with Cybersecurity?
Now that you have an idea about how cyber-criminals have evolved their tactics with Artificial Intelligence, how do you know if your organization’s security strategy has changed to meet modern threats?
Here are some questions to spark discussions with your IT team.
- How has cybersecurity changed now that you have remote workers?
- Did cybersecurity change when you went from on-premises servers to the cloud?
- Does anyone have eyes on security 24/7?
- Are we utilizing Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) tools?
- Do we require multi-factor authentication (MFA) for account access for all employees?
- Are our security policies up to date and what kind of training do we provide for employees?
- Are there policies in place for employee-owned devices?
If you’re not technical, you may be hesitant to ask questions like these because you’re afraid that you won’t understand the answer. There may be some things you need to become more educated about but the point of the conversation is to uncover gaps. Getting a glimpse of a gap gives you a reason to take a deeper dive with a cybersecurity assessment.
Uncover Gaps with a Cybersecurity Assessment
A cybersecurity assessment is really the only way that you’re going to get an objective view of exactly what your IT team is doing to protect your organization from cyber threats.
Here at XPERTECHS, we work with clients to make sure that they have all of their IT and security bases covered. If you have suspicions that your IT team is falling short of expectations for IT performance and cybersecurity, we should talk.