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Network Security Monitoring

Reactive and Proactive Cybersecurity Measures You Can Implement Today

January 09, 2023

7 minutes

castle walls over hills | proactive cybersecurity measures

With modern threats becoming more creative and more dangerous, it’s important that businesses implement proactive cybersecurity measures to stay one step ahead of the game.

Read on to learn more about what a proactive cybersecurity measure is, why it's better to stay proactive rather than be reactive, and some examples of the tools, software, and policies that make for a more proactive approach to cybersecurity.

Take a proactive approach to your cybersecurity. Use this checklist to determine what you need to build a strong defense and start protecting your business from modern cyberthreats. Download the checklist now and get started.

Proactive Cybersecurity vs. Reactive Cybersecurity

Proactive cybersecurity measures are steps taken by businesses to prevent incoming attacks from happening or causing damage. This means taking steps and implementing technology that helps to identify threats before they execute or can get into your network, taking steps to keep your software and tools fully updated, and implementing security across your entire organization.

the difference between reactive and proactive cybersecurity measures

Proactivity in cybersecurity is more than just plugging in software. It’s a mindset and a dedication to consistent evaluation of your security environment and understanding the possible threats organization-wide.

Reactive cybersecurity measures, on the other hand, are built only to react to attacks after they’ve already happened. This means patching vulnerabilities after they’ve been exposed and abused, updating firewalls and antivirus software after it’s already been breached, and taking measures to prevent repeat attacks.

Drawbacks of a Reactive Cybersecurity Strategy

The inability to proactively prevent attacks brings a lot of drawbacks for businesses, including: • Increased Security-Related Costs: It costs more money to stop breaches after they occur than to invest in the technology used to potentially prevent them. Post-breach, businesses are susceptible to costs like government fines, ransoms, and the costs associated with recovery (not to mention the impact of losing the trust of your customers). • Ineffective Damage Control: Proactive cybersecurity controls provide a baseline for a business’ cybersecurity system. This means that, when a breach occurs, businesses without proactive measures may find themselves unable to combat the threat because their security foundation is so weak. • Non-Compliance: An obvious downside to the lack of proactivity in your cybersecurity approach is that most major compliance regulations require proactive controls. Without them, you’re immediately non-compliant and risk fines. Aside from the obvious and major drawbacks listed above, the biggest reason businesses should not rely on reactive cybersecurity measures is the ever-present danger that it invites. Reactive cybersecurity measures alone remove any control you have over the situation and leave you consistently a step behind cybercriminals. This is if you ever even realize that you’re being attacked—detection rates are as low as 0.05% for some companies who won’t know they’re under attack until the bad actors have full, unauthorized control of their systems.

Do You Need Both?

While there is some merit in strengthening your cybersecurity posture after an attack, such as ensuring a repeat attack won’t occur, it’s always a good idea to focus more on preventing attacks from ever occurring in the first place. So, while you could have some reactive cybersecurity measures alongside your proactive ones, you should never rely solely on them.

Proactive cybersecurity measures should be the focus and foundation of your business’ cybersecurity posture.

Proactive Cybersecurity Measures

Proactive security controls are a major part of an effective, layered cybersecurity approach, something that’s essentially a requirement for modern businesses to stay secure and protect their data (and their customer’s data).

Layered Cybersecurity Approach | Infographic of layered security solutions

When it comes to those proactive security measures, they come in a lot of flavors that hit upon different aspects of cybersecurity and different potentially vulnerable spots in your business network. Here are some examples of proactive cybersecurity measures that modern businesses need to stay secure:

- Employee Awareness Training: People are often your first line of defense. It’s critical that you give them the training they need to be aware of and understand cyberthreats that will come knocking on their door through malicious websites, phishing messages, and other social engineering attacks. Cybercriminals tend to view people as a weak point in business security, but they don’t have to be.

- Updated Next-Gen Antivirus: To defend against modern threats, you need modern tools that go beyond the capabilities of the past. Legacy antivirus software just doesn’t cut it anymore because not only has it been figured out by cybercriminals; but it also simply lacks the features that are required for proactive cybersecurity.

Related: What is Next-Gen Antivirus?

- Software Patches and Updates: When developers become aware of potential vulnerabilities in security software, they release patches to secure them. For businesses, it’s important to keep all your security software fully updated with the latest patches to keep cybercriminals from abusing these known weaknesses.

- Firewalls: Similarly to antivirus software, businesses need new-school firewalls that can recognize and filter our modern threats.

Related: What is a Firewall and How Does it Help Network Security?

- Data Encryption: Encrypting data helps businesses keep their data secure, even if it does fall into the wrong hands by ensuring only those with access can decipher it.

- Data Segmentation: If an attack occurs, data segmentation is a proactive step that businesses can take to prevent cybercriminals from accessing everything through one vulnerability. Layered protection keeps segmented data secure even if one segment becomes exposed.

- Network Monitoring: Modern network monitoring solutions can implement AI and machine learning technology to adapt and learn about new threats and how to spot them. This ability helps protect businesses from evolving threats.

- Identity and Access Controls: It’s important to restrict access to important systems and information to just those that absolutely need it to do their jobs. Enforcing the principle of least privilege is a step that businesses can take to ensure nobody is misusing credentials to access information they don’t need, leaving it vulnerable to theft.

Related: Identity and Access Management Standards for Compliance

- Endpoint Protection and Edge Security: It’s important to cover all your angles when fighting cybercriminals. Edge security and endpoint security services provide additional layers of security by protecting your business from being compromised by the devices on the fringe of your network.

In Conclusion

Implementing proactive cybersecurity strategies is the best way to stay ahead of modern cybercriminals and prepare your business for anything that can be thrown at it. With the appropriate and proactive-focused tools and policies in place, you can stay secure in a changing threat landscape.

Start taking a more proactive approach to your business’ cybersecurity. Use our checklist, How Covered is Your Business?, to see what your business needs to build a strong defense and stay protected from evolving cyberthreats. Download the checklist now and get started.