Your network is under siege. If you’ve been working in IT or IT security for more than 15 minutes, you should be aware that there’s a seemingly endless array of attackers and exploits trying to infiltrate your network, compromise your servers and applications, and steal your data every day. The thing that separates effective cybersecurity from poor cybersecurity is just how proactive your network defenses are—do you respond to threats, or react?
A good cybersecurity posture should always be proactive. You need to monitor for suspicious or malicious activity and identify threats before they become full-blown attacks or data breaches. Proactive threat monitoring and threat detection allow you to respond to threats. Waiting until the damage is done forces you to react.
That’s an important distinction. Responding is good. Reacting is bad. When I was in sales many, many years ago, I used to read and study Tom Hopkins. He explained the difference between responding and reacting from the perspective of getting medical treatment. When a doctor prescribes a medication, it is good news to hear your body is responding. What you don’t want to hear is that your body is reacting to the medication.
Consider the difference in a couple other scenarios. Would you prefer to proactively detect and respond to a small leak in a pipe under your kitchen sink, or would you rather react when your kitchen floods? Would you prefer to proactively recognize that your health should be better and respond with a better diet and exercise, or would you rather react when you have a heart attack?
Respond to Cybersecurity Threats in Real-Time
It seems fair to say that in all of these situations, responding to cybersecurity threats beats reacting. Proactively identifying an issue and taking action before it becomes a much bigger issue just makes sense. The problem with much of cybersecurity is that it is built on a reactionary model. It is designed to detect things after the attack or exploit is essentially complete and then alert you so you can clean up and perform damage control.
Be proactive. Using security tools like IDS software with deep packet inspection gives you a full picture of the packets traversing your network in real-time. Network IDS enables you to identify lateral movement across the network, detect brute force attacks as they happen, and identify privilege escalation attempts. It provides you with the visibility you need to detect suspicious or malicious activity on your network, like ransomware or command & control exploits.
You can—and should—collect log data and do some log analysis to look for attacks that slipped through the cracks and to identify bigger trends in attack tools and techniques over time. If you want to respond to threats rather than reacting to attacks, though, you need to have proactive cybersecurity tools in place like network IDS.