July 8, 2020

5 Steps to Validate the Security Controls of an Organization

Nowadays, (almost) every organization is moving to the cloud, thanks to its long list of benefits like eco-friendliness, improved performance and scalability, and reduced costs. But cloud storage and systems do not come without their issues with cybersecurity being one of the most important issues with the cloud.

With cloud computing and storage adoption quickly growing in the industry, there is an urgent need for better security posture for the cloud. Unfortunately, there is a hotchpotch of efforts done by governments and institutions on cloud security problems, which does more harm than good.

That is why organizations need security validation — a modern security technique employed by the likes of Cymulate to validate the security infrastructure of organizations — especially their on-cloud applications.

What is Security Validation?

Simply put, a way to assess and validate the security controls by subjecting organizations’ cybersecurity measures to potential, real-time threats. Its goal is to find the weakest links in their cybersecurity infrastructure. And unlike the traditional security tools, it tests the effectiveness of the security measures — appliances, cloud, or software-based controls, just like quality assurance.

Security validation — like the Web Application Firewall — is one of the novel techniques to help improve the cybersecurity infrastructure of organizations. Security validation has the potential to help organizations introduce quality assurance into their security controls and practices. Predominantly, it assists in validating cloud security, making it beneficial, seeing organizations nowadays are mostly transitioning their data and crucial workloads onto the cloud.

The reason being the processes for securing the cloud infrastructure is not necessarily the same as securing the on-premise infrastructure, making it a complex process to configure the cloud’s security controls and policies, and to test and validate them. For instance, WWE’s database was leaked in July 2017, which reportedly leaked the details of more than 3 million fans of WWE.

Unfortunately, the leaked data included personally identifiable information. “The data – which also included home and email addresses, birthdates, as well as customers’ children’s age ranges and genders where supplied – was sitting on an Amazon Web Services S3 server without username or password protection, Dyachenko said. It’s likely the database was misconfigured by WWE or an IT partner as in other recent leaks on Amazon-hosted infrastructure,” told Forbes.

That is the reason there is a huge requirement for novel techniques like security validation to help protect organizations’ critical data and workloads from getting compromised or leaked. Otherwise, the consequence can be disastrous for the organization — it loses its credibility, reputation, trustworthiness, and more.

Steps to Validate the Security Controls

Security validation — unlike many other security techniques — is not a single step process, but a multi-step, well-structured process. In modern times where cyberattacks have become everyday news, cybersecurity experts do not just verify the controls are in place, but they are tasked with validating the security controls that are effective against potential cyberattacks and other threats. And they need to follow these steps for performing the security validation.

1. Switch from reviewing configurations to validating controls

In the past, cybersecurity experts have been reviewing configurations and system logs and reports against compliance, governance, and risk mandates. And though it provides some insight, it hardly provides evidence that the security controls will act as a security shield at the time of a cyberattack or threat.

Instead, cybersecurity professionals must validate the security controls by launching potential cyberattacks to test the installed controls. Then, they should provide evidence-based reports on what’s working, what’s not working, and the suggestive steps to improve the security controls to get the desired results.

2. Shift from once-in-a-while to continuous security validation

Previously, assessments or audits were performed once-in-a-while, say once every three months or so. It used to provide assessment reports for a point in time of the organization’s security posture. But, this strategy does not work for the modern, fast-moving world where new threats are discovered every day.

Instead, organizations must adopt continuous security validation that performs the validations every now and then. At the least, security teams should keep tabs on new or updated threats and validate the security controls against them.

3. Shift from manual to an automated security validation process

Cybersecurity experts are usually required to test and validate the security controls against an ever-growing list of threats and dozens of other mandates. That is why manual validation processes prove to be error-prone, inefficient, and slow — especially after adapting to continuous security validation.

Modern security suites provide continuous and real-time monitoring and testing of organizations’ security posture. They help avoid the pitfalls of ever-changing infrastructure; they continuously monitor for changes, validate the security controls, and provide notifications and reports. Using their automated approach to validating controls, security teams can validate the controls against numerous mandates and security threats and get notifications for taking action quickly.

4. Shift from making assumptions to evidence-based validation

Cybersecurity professionals are responsible for bridging the gap between business and technology. They articulate the trends, test the security, and provide recommendations and reports. But, they usually make assumptions around the trends, say a security training will improve the response times.

On the contrary, security teams should analyze the trends in testing and validation over time based on evidence. This allows business as well as security teams to confirm the effectiveness of the security validations in place. It also helps to assess and improve factors like people, processes, and products.

5. Opt for a modern, automated security validation solution

Security teams may not do everything on this list — especially if their budget or size is small. The reason being security validation is not an easy task, then they need to keep up-to-date with modern security threats and trends. That is why organizations must opt for an automated solution for validating the controls.

An automated, continuous security validation solution will allow measuring, monitoring, testing, and validating an organization’s security infrastructure in real-time. Such a solution works with multiple environments, say on-cloud as well as on-premise environments, providing an all-round security validation.

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