Malware, trojans, and ransomware attacks get smarter every year. You’re at risk no matter what type of business you run because hackers don’t discriminate. In 2016, for example, 61% of all data breaches hit small businesses. Having a strong cybersecurity plan in action is no longer an option; your organization won’t survive long without it.

According to the Ponemon Institute, only 25% of organizations are confident in their abilities to effectively deal with cybersecurity attacks. The report reveals a concerning trend: threat detection budgets are expected to increase in the coming year, but preventive security spending will drop from 31%-18%. In other words, organizations don’t place a high value on prevention. That’s unfortunate because a major aspect of prevention is having offensive strategies in place that thwart would-be threats before they become an actual threat.

Prevention is a crucial ingredient in cybersecurity

If you prioritize threat detection and put prevention on the backburner, your business is at risk. Both are necessary in the war against cybercrime.

Think of it this way: The U.S. military doesn’t pour all of its funding into threat detection and wait for the enemy to strike. They employ a combination of offensive and defensive strategies, many of which are software-based solutions that use complex algorithms to identify patterns that might indicate a threat.

They equip aircraft like the F-35 with offensive and defensive electronic warfare systems that successfully detect and defeat threats. Built-in sensors provide a 360-degree view of the battlespace to maximize a pilot’s ability to evade, engage, counter, or jam outside threats. If your cybersecurity solution doesn’t respond in a similar way to threats and all you’ve got is defense, you’re a sitting duck. With enough persistence, cyber criminals will eventually get what they want.

Prevention strategies include an automatic response to potential threats

Some preventive measures can wall off threats automatically. For example, security software can ‘learn’ a user’s regular patterns of behavior as they use the company’s network. That software can flag, suspend, or limit a user’s access when they perform actions outside of their norm, like logging in from an unusual IP address, excessively deleting or downloading files, or accessing areas of the network unrelated to their role. Unusual behaviors indicate an unauthorized party might be accessing the network. Prevention software can be programmed to wall off such users before much harm is done.

Cybercrime isn’t always the result of hacking

The misperception that cybercriminals gain access to sensitive data by hacking into a network creates a naïve view of threats. Most cybercriminals don’t hack their way into a network.

If you rely on failed login attempts to identify a potential threat, think again. Most attacks are silent and you won’t see them coming. “Attackers use valid credentials and connections that the business itself creates, making them very difficult to detect,” Ofer Israeli, founder and CEO of Illusive Networks, said in a press release. “These findings suggest that organizations of all sizes are at risk and must drive improvements in their abilities to preempt, detect and respond to these pernicious threats.”

Nobody is immune to internal threats, and having a security policy in place is only as effective as your team’s willingness to follow it to the letter. You can install the best firewall and equip your workforce with the best VPN on the planet, and it won’t prevent the most common type of attack – one that originates from within.

Internal threat detection is necessary

Like the military, you need systems in place to identify internal and external threats and wall them off before they cause damage. A firewall is a good idea, but you also need software to manage user access.

Since most threats originate from within, and valid credentials are used to gain access to networks, managing and monitoring user access is necessary. A system that doesn’t detect silent, internal threats is useless. Remember, there’s a reason the military prioritizes prevention strategies to ward off threats. It’s a necessary part of the game.

Anurag Choudhari is the co-founder of Geekenized Technologies LLP, a web development & digital marketing agency that helps various SMBs & SMEs in developing & maintaining their online presence.

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