We cannot deny that recent years have been tough when cybersecurity is concerned. We witnessed a few dangerous attacks and the devastating ransomware attack. These breaches left us dumbstruck and a mind-boggling doubt about cybersecurity. Most of us are not sure if it is falling off the cliff or upgrading itself?
It’s true that attackers have access to a much more than ever in the past. However, more capabilities and more vulnerabilities does not reflect the general trend of enterprise security as a whole. In contrast to marketing messages, startup investment decks, and even a few industry reports have conveyed that both the security industry and security practitioners have considerably advanced.
You won’t believe but cybersecurity is not falling off. On the contrary, it has been improved drastically. You might doubt us for this. How can we say so when the cyber world is being plagued with Equifax, Deloitte, WannaCry? How can we forget the major data breaches that compromised our security and identity? Well, if you are the one who trusts the news updates, you probably think we are insane! However, the reality is quite the opposite of this, we cannot trust every news we get to know about!
Here, we’ll discuss about some milestones that we’ve achieved in last few years. Take a read and know about them.
- In the early 90’s, attackers had a field day on Unix daemons. In this, everything was fair. Daemons were not only rife with vulnerabilities, but were exposed to the outside world. Therefore, common exploitation vectors to gain footholds in enterprises was accomplished without any hassles.
- Eventually the firewalls became widely popular, and thus access to many of those services was considerably restricted. However, access to web servers was still possible in those first-generation firewalls. Therefore, the web servers became more lucrative targets.
- Fast forward to few more years, and organization’s audit processes started maturing and simpler vulnerabilities in the servers were patched. The attackers started to shift their focus and this time their attack was on custom developed applications running on those web servers. This lead to secure coding practices.
- As time passed, servers and web apps difficult to target on. By this time, a major shift in focus was witnessed again. This time clients became the target. Back then, the Windows was focal point of attackers. And the Windows users were victimized.
- Later, the OS became more difficult to exploit, and the shift to third-party applications on the client was done. Thus, repeating a cycle that had previously occurred. Eventually the effectiveness of targeting browser plugins was broadly understood which lead to ushering in the era of exploit kits.
- The next focus was on developing applications that were potential malware and just intended to gather data from the victims so that they can use it later for their own benefit.
- Also, there came a time when there was a broad shift to non-malware based compromises. In these, attackers used standard system tools and subsystems, commonly used by system administrators. This made it extremely difficult to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate usage. We are currently seeing the industry response to this trend.
If you’ll take a look at this entire timeline, you can see that security experts have taken everything in consideration and evolved over the years. Earlier, the security experts were outsourced, but now an in-house professional is preferred. This supports in disciplined and rapid triage, continual security program improvement, and a greater understanding of each breach.
Thus, we cannot claim that cybersecurity is falling off the cliff. We just need to catch up and prevent our systems from getting attacked. For this, we require two things to be implemented as soon as possible. Firstly, we got to get rid of all the outdated devices, software and applications that we are using. These have unknown patched which could be used for exploitations. Secondly, we need to create an exclusive community of cybersecurity experts where they can openly discuss about the vulnerabilities that caused data breach in their organization. This will make others learn from the mistakes of one and the word of mass data breach will not spread.
There’s no denying the fact that we have made hackers pull their hair out by patching the loopholes of past. The hackers today have to spend much more time to find any vulnerability. The reason is clear, we have made our systems efficient enough. As we are expanding our horizons exponentially and so are our systems. We cannot expect them to become cent percent secure at the drop of a hat.
We are nowhere protecting the organizations who have handled their data clumsily and lost trust of their clients. But we too need to understand that we’ll have to give some time to the experts as well. They have put their hard work to secure us and continue the same in future!