TL;DR Cybersecurity teams diligently work to implement comprehensive measures to secure their technology stack in an ever-changing cybersecurity landscape. This effort not only prevents malicious activity that could compromise business operations but also inspires trust in company stakeholders and customers.
While the goal is always comprehensive security, smaller companies often face budget restrictions limiting a security team’s ability to consider such measures. Instead, these teams focus on what they can do, often reacting to threats after they emerge. Initially, this might sound negative, but it’s not always the case. Every security team needs protocols for handling incidents, and a reactive approach is only negative when deemed sufficient.
Security teams must recognize that comprehensive security requires both reactive and proactive practices. This blog will teach you how to identify a reactive approach to security and six ways to shift into a proactive security posture. If your security team feels constantly firefighting, this one’s for you.
What is security posture?
Firstly, let’s talk about security posture. A company’s security posture is a holistic report on how well a company can predict, prevent, identify, and respond to threats.
To measure a company’s security posture, review all security initiatives, including risk assessment, security audits, vulnerability assessment, pen testing, security training, compliance assessment, external benchmarking, among others. Security data such as metrics, threat intelligence, and key performance indicators (KPIs) is also typically reviewed.
Depending on the results, security posture is described in many ways, with descriptors like layered, defensive or offensive, and risk-averse or risk-tolerant. In this blog, you’re exploring reactive and proactive security postures.
Characteristics of a reactive security posture
You can identify a reactive security team by these characteristics:
- Responding to threats after they occur, investigating, fixing, and communicating to stakeholders.
- Implementing security measures in response to past incidents, focusing on ensuring incidents don’t reoccur.
- Practicing security hygiene informally, lacking enforcement or training on security hygiene.
- Dependency on their alert system, leading to slow threat response times, alert fatigue, and a false sense of security.
How to shift to a proactive security posture
Shifting to a proactive security posture is not an all-or-nothing effort. What’s in reach for your team may differ. Here are six methods of shifting your team from a reactive to proactive security posture:
- Conduct risk assessments proactively and regularly.
- Shift security left, considering security issues earlier in the software development lifecycle.
- Conduct regular security awareness training.
- Continuously monitor systems to detect and respond to security incidents in real-time.
- Create threat intelligence and continuously improve security practices.
- Use advanced security tools, such as AI for data analysis and advanced automation tools like SOAR.
Reactive vs. proactive security postures in terms of business operations
The differences in reactive and proactive cybersecurity postures can be summed up in five key domains of business:
- Timing: Proactive teams work ahead of threats, aiming to prevent them.
- Cost: Proactively securing against breaches requires more upfront investment but can be less costly in the long run.
- Resource Allocation: Proactive teams allocate more resources to training, research, and tooling upfront.
- Risk Posture: Proactive teams aim for a continuously low risk profile.
- Business Impact: Proactively preventing security incidents can lead to smoother business operations.
Now that you have a concise understanding of reactive and proactive security postures, how would you describe your security team? Keep in mind that reactive measures have their place—it’s only a sign to shift towards a proactive security posture when your team’s practices are primarily reactive.