Infrastructure Security

Infrastructure Security: Top Threats & How to Address Them

Businesses in 2022 must prioritize cybersecurity, especially if they have adopted remote working. An organization has less control over its employees’ device security and behaviour when they operate remotely. As a result, reducing the risks associated with infrastructure security is more complex than ever.

IT Infrastructure security is concerned with protecting critical systems and assets from physical and cybersecurity threats. This typically includes hardware and software applications such as end-user devices, data center resources, and networking systems.

Typical elements of physical infrastructure security include access control, security cameras, security officers, and perimeter security. For non-physical cybersecurity threats, there are several things that organizations should implement to protect their digital perimeter. For example, virtual private networks (VPNs) or virtual desktop deployments can help increase security for remote workers on different devices. Furthermore, firewalls, penetration tests, network monitoring, and encryption technologies can help monitor and prevent cybersecurity threats.

There are four areas of infrastructure security: data, application, network, and physical. Each of these requires its own security framework to prevent vulnerabilities and cyber attacks.

Data can be stored across various locations within an organization’s infrastructure, such as data centers, collocations, devices, and multiple clouds. The more data an organization has, the more complex protecting it becomes. With hybrid work and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies becoming common, more endpoints must be protected. Typical endpoint security measures include anti-virus software, secure email gateways, and endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools. Data encryption should also be used to protect data so that only those with the correct decryption key may access it.

The application or software level of infrastructure can contain multiple vulnerabilities if the software is outdated. Firmware updates should be regularly applied across organizations to prevent exploits.

The first line of defence for the network level of infrastructure security is often a firewall. Firewalls are a perimeter barrier between an organization’s trusted network and other untrusted networks, such as public Wi-Fi. Firewalls monitor incoming and outgoing network traffic based on a set of internal rules that an organization’s security policy has defined. Another recommendation for network security would be to enforce multi-factor authentication before allowing access to network resources.

Cybersecurity practices cannot protect the physical level of infrastructure. However, remote backup sites and data recovery plans can protect data and networks in the event of physical theft, vandalism or natural disasters affecting an organization’s physical infrastructure.

Cybercriminals typically target one or more of these areas when attacking an organization. Since the onset of the pandemic, cybersecurity threats have been on the rise. With 35% of the global workforce working remotely, cybercriminals have used this opportunity to their advantage. Below are the top 4 cybersecurity threats in 2022:

1. Inadequate Security Training for Employees

According to a study by Stanford University, 88% of cybersecurity breaches were caused by employee mistakes. Phishing emails, social engineering, and malicious downloads have all become prevalent means for cybercriminals to gain access to employee credentials or other confidential information. In 2022, these attacks are more sophisticated than ever, and many employees will only be able to recognize a phishing attack or social engineering scheme with proper training. To guarantee that employees acknowledge that cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility, an influential cybersecurity culture led from the top down must be developed, along with regular risk assessments that cover the complete IT infrastructure. A robust cybersecurity stance demands traditional security awareness training programs to teach staff how to recognize and react to phishing emails and other attempts to steal their network credentials and what to do after identifying these attempts of an attack. Security awareness training and a strong security culture can begin to offer adequate security against these types of cybersecurity threats.

2. Unsecured IoT Devices

Internet of Things or IoT refers to devices with technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices over the Internet or other communication networks. Today, most electronics have IoT capabilities; everything from thermostats to refrigerators can connect to the network to perform ‘smart’ capabilities. Often, these smart devices are left unsecured in workplaces, and they can act as a point of entry for hackers to gain access to the network. Creating a security policy around IoT devices that limits network access and enforces patching and vulnerability assessments can decrease the threat of cybersecurity attacks. 

3. Mishandled Patches and Outdated Software

Technology is fast-paced and constantly evolving, and so are cybersecurity threats. Ongoing updates and patches sustain applications. A cybersecurity team is responsible for regularly pushing out patches to ensure that software applications stay upgraded and exploit-free. Sometimes, the software is no longer supported by the company that created it. When an application stops receiving support, it becomes outdated. This means that vulnerabilities and exploits are no longer being patched and, thus, can fall prone to cyber-attacks.

4. Cloud Vulnerabilities

With many organizations moving to the cloud due to the pandemic, cloud misconfiguration is a vulnerability organizations commonly face. Many cloud misconfiguration vulnerabilities are a result of a lack of knowledge. Identity access management, storage configuration, and password management are all part of a strong cloud security practice. Organizations must limit complete access to resources to employees that do not require it. Moreover, data storage should be set to private by default. For companies that do not have experience setting up a cloud migration, a managed cloud services provider can be a great way to avoid cloud misconfiguration.

With the constant evolution and sophistication of cybersecurity threats, companies must continue to develop and reinforce their security policies and constantly educate their employees on how to identify and avoid the latest cybersecurity attacks.

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