In a way, our bodies and cyber ecosystems are similar to each other. Each has many different components that work together to create a cohesive, well functioning system.
Both our bodies and cyber systems can sometimes be infected with pervasive foreign contaminants, however, which can cripple how we operate.
The difference is that our bodies have a trump card to combat these foreign substances, which is more efficient than anything the world has for cyber ecosystems.
That trump card is the human immune system.
The immune system is one of the most effective systems in the human body as it defends our body against unhealthy microorganisms. Given the similarities between our bodies and cyber systems, it’s fair to assume that cyber infrastructure can benefit from having an immune system just like we do.
Today, given the sophistication of the technology available to us, the cybersecurity industry can take cues from the design and functionality of our immune system to create a cyber ecosystem that protects organisations from various cyber attacks.
In this post, we explore how this can be achieved.
What goes into building an immune cyber ecosystem?
A cybersecurity ecosystem has many different components—computers, software, communications technologies, cyber devices and appliances, compliance and regulatory bodies/frameworks, processes, and people.
All of these components have to work together to create a healthy immune system that can predict cyber attacks, curb the spread of the attack, and mitigate its impacts, just like our body.
Creating immune-efficient cybersecurity infrastructure, however, requires a thorough understanding of the existing security posture of your organisation and the resources you have at your disposal.
Only then, can you assess if you can meet the requirements to build an effective and “healthy” cyber environment.
Here are the steps you need to follow, in this process:
Step 1: Establishing digital hygiene protocols
Good hygiene is critical in helping us maintain a body that is immune-efficient. Similarly, good digital hygiene is the cornerstone of healthy cybersecurity infrastructure.
Good digital hygiene means following processes like regular component assessments, network segmentation, privilege and authentication controls, and continuous awareness training for users.
All of these practices ensure that your system is functioning optimally, which can go a long way in preventing its collapse in the event of an attack.
Step 2: Ensure complete visibility
Our immune system is constantly on the lookout for insidious substances, which helps it detect and attack those substances rapidly if they enter our system.
The same principle applies to a digital immune system.
Establishing complete visibility across your ecosystem supports the effective detection and containment of critical threats. Without this kind of visibility, it’s more likely that your system will be vulnerable to even the most basic of cyber attacks.
Step 3: Establish threat detection protocols
Faced with good digital hygiene and better visibility, malicious attackers will look for a way to initiate undetected lateral movement between vital components to inflict maximum damage.
Establishing threat detection protocols, however, will help you detect behavioural anomalies in your system, which will then be compared against documented behaviour to identify any threats.
This is very similar to how our immune system works, where it detects the behaviour of invasive pathogens and compares them with previous illnesses to identify what’s causing the problem.
Step 4: Establish an incident response plan
Once our immune system detects the behavioural pattern of an invasive pathogen, it dispatches appropriate antibodies to combat the spread of the substance.
Similarly, a healthy cybersecurity ecosystem will detect behavioural patterns to determine the motive of a cyber attack and then take necessary action to combat it. Your response to a cyber attack might take various forms depending on the type of attack, the resources at risk, and the incident response strategy you have in place.
Create a healthy cyber ecosystem to improve your security posture
The good news is that organisations can still protect themselves against these attacks by building an immune-efficient cyber ecosystem. By following the steps outlined in this post, you’re able to create a security environment you know you can count on.