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How to Threat Test Your Entire Organization

By: Kirk Savidis

How to Treat test

Table of content

Research from Veeam’s 2022 ransomware trends report found that when malicious actors were attacking organizations, 94% of the time backups were being targeted. Backups are crucial to reduce organizational downtime as well as mitigate risk. Backup recovery is one of many aspects of having a secure perimeter and moving your organization one step closer to ultimate cyber-readiness. We have discussed creating a strong business continuity and disaster recovery plan previously, but this week, we will learn more about what are some examples of threat testing and why your organization should begin doing so.

Internal IT Threat Indicators: What Should You Look For? 

Internal IT threat indicators may become more prominent after an employee feels mistreated in some way. As defined by The Social Engineering Framework, an employee could become a malicious insider as a result of being overworked, underpaid, underappreciated, or passed up for a promotion. If that employee has privileged access to information, they can use those negative motivators to cause intentional damage.

Often, a disgruntled employee may exhibit some behavioral changes which can serve as insider threat indicators. Examples of these internal network security threats include voicing disapproval about the company on social media or in the virtual workplace as well as isolating themselves from other employees.

Identifying disgruntled employees in a remote world adds additional complexity, which is why it is even more important for organizations to have the deep layers of internal IT threat security in place.

What Can I Do to Prevent Internal IT Threats? 

When it comes to information security risk management, there are several steps you can take that help align your organization with security industry best practices: 

  • Apply the principle of least privilege, which states that user accounts should have the least amount of access necessary for their jobs.
  • Document proper employee onboarding and offboarding procedures; offboarding procedures are especially important to ensure that former employees can no longer access company data.
  • Identify and inventory critical assets (e.g., data, processes, hardware) and ensure they are properly protected.
  • Conduct regular security awareness training to educate staff on insider and other cyber threats.
  • Institute 24×7 security monitoring to detect unusual outbound data traffic. 
  • Segment your network and separate critical data.

Depending on the individual’s situation, work strain and job pressure can also be insider threat indicators. There are also steps that your organization can take to help alleviate employee stress, including: 

  • Holding stress relief seminars to educate your staff on ways to manage work-related and personal stress.
  • Enforcing mandatory time off and job rotation, where possible.

The Importance of Threat Testing Your Systems

You may be thinking – oh, my organization has in place policies and procedures to prevent cyber-attacks and mitigate risk, so we are all covered and good to go. You are both right and wrong: right in the sense that yes those policies and procedures are critical, but wrong in the fact that you are not all covered and good to go.

A threat test is exactly how it sounds, it is a testing threat to your organization to determine if any vulnerabilities were missed or glanced over in the creation of your policies. Our VP of Cybersecurity likes to use a particular analogy when it comes to the need for testing. As a homeowner, would you want your local fire department to practice how to operate a hose, prepare the truck, and practice for emergencies in their spare time? Or would you feel equally comfortable just relying on them to know instinctively how to react and best put out a fire?

Now, let’s go over some examples of tests that your organization can conduct to determine any loose vulnerabilities.

Penetration Testing

A penetration test is a simulated and authorized cyberattack on organizational systems or policies that are performed to evaluate the security of said systems and policies. Penetration tests have shifted from being a luxury for organizations to be critical. Our experts advise your organizations to be running annual penetration tests, as new vulnerabilities are constantly being identified and taken advantage of.

Tabletop Testing

Additionally, organizations can examine their current systems and posture with tabletop testing. Tabletop tests or exercises are internal tests, created to help organizations walk through any potential cyber risk scenarios and identify potential gaps. They are meant to create a discussion within your IT department to evaluate organizational preparedness. Let’s take this tabletop exercise on security intrusion as an example. The goal of a tabletop exercise is to

  1. Involve all relevant IT stakeholders
  2. Tailor the scenario to best match your environment
  3. Determine a single facilitator for the exercise
  4. Encourage discussion about how your organization would handle the scenario
  5. Document your responses to the key questions
  6. Develop a plan to close any gaps identified during the exercise

Zippia reports that cyberattacks occur once every 39 seconds. It is not a matter of if your organization will succumb to an attack, but a matter of when. Implementing policies and procedures such as disaster recovery services, business continuity services, cybersecurity services, and more is a start in the right direction. However, it is equally important to be testing the implemented systems to ensure they effectively cover all gaps in your organization. Dataprise is happy to continue the conversation by offering a complimentary assessment of your network. Reach out to us to learn more and schedule time to speak with an expert today here.

Watch our video on how to threat test your organization

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