The cyber threat landscape is constantly evolving as cybercriminals leverage new and old capabilities to exploit vulnerabilities and human weaknesses alike as efficiently as possible. To maintain effective security systems that keep up with and ward off these consistently growing threats, ongoing education on cyber situational awareness is a seemingly simple, but effective pre-emptive action for any organization to take.
Although you cannot definitively predict an attack, you can estimate their probability, understand what they entail, estimate their potential impact and proactively bolter your security architecture by prepping yourself using actionable intelligence through situational awareness and information-sharing.
What is situational awareness?
In the preface to their 2011 book, “Designing for situation awareness: An approach to user centered design”, authors Mica R. Endsley and Debra G. Jones note that situational awareness is not only relevant and necessary for physical security, but cyber incidents as well.
“While a clear understanding of one’s situation is undoubtedly the critical trigger that allows the knowledge, skills, and creativity of the human mind to be successfully brought to bear in shaping our environment, very often people must work uphill, against systems and technologies that block rather than enhance their ability to ascertain the information they need,” they write. “Knowledge in a vacuum is meaningless.”
Simply put, situational awareness refers to the human perception and understanding of one’s surroundings, what’s going on and how to best deal with the situation at hand.
Infusing situational awareness in cybersecurity
Applying this concept to the cyber-ecosystem, cyber security situational awareness involves the constant monitoring of new and older threats, the malware, techniques and vulnerabilities they leverage as well as the mitigative actions required to appropriately respond to them.
Knowing your enemy and what they are after is key to best defending against them. Although security technology and tools are helpful to mitigate these risks, basic cyber situational awareness is mandatory is avoid pitfalls and reduce security risks. One also needs to identify any assets that could be at risk, monitor them for potential vulnerability and apply more advanced, resilient security control to safeguard them.
To build cyber security awareness and resiliency against new evolving threats, one needs to optimize their ability to detect and adaptively respond in a timely and effective manner to any adverse threat. By doing so, organizations can help curtail intrusions and minimize risks before they impact their operations and bottom line.
Cyber security situational awareness must sweep through the organization’s entire ecosystem down to human end points - often the weak link in the chain for attackers. By imparting both physical and cyber situational awareness across all levels in an organizational hierarchy - from board members and managers to third-party vendors and clients, any gaps in cyber security awareness that would otherwise be exploited by threat actors are consistently reduced, if not closed.
For instance, applying basic cyber hygiene, up-to-date cyber security awareness, actionable threat intelligence and targeted risk controls across an organization allow personnel to work together as a dynamic force against attack. However, this process can only be effective if properly maintained and regularly updated as a necessary procedure rather than a one-off initiative.
A long-term cure, not a short-term bandaid
For true cyber situational awareness, it needs to be made a prioritized, long-term solution rather than a temporary band-aid slapped onto a serious problem.
Hackers are relentlessly upping their game to find new vulnerabilities and human weaknesses to exploit in their attacks. As organizations increasingly invest in cyber security measures and strategies to prevent these intrusions, opportunistic threat actors are only spurred further to figure out how to bypass them.
Adopting a proactive rather than reactive approach to secure organizations is crucial to ensure investments and resources are effectively utilized and consequences are subsequently minimized. For a holistic approach to security, cyber situational awareness must be effectively employed as a core defensive weapon in an organization’s arsenal.
Cyware Situational Awareness Platform seamlessly leverages these core security values of situational awareness, crisis communication and information-sharing to ensure the right information is delivered to the right person in real-time, giving them everything they need to prevent, detect and contain any harmful incidents. This secure information-sharing and crisis communication platform leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning for the collection, analysis and dissemination of actionable situational awareness alerts, intelligence and advisories to the right audience in real-time.
Enabling organizations to stay ahead of the curve, organizations can use this platform to infuse situational awareness into its ecosystem to proactively identify and manage any threat in real-time.
As Sun Tzu best put it in his book, “The Art of War”: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”