National Cyber Security Awareness Month: How Defensive Cyber Security Techniques Can Mitigate Threats and Prevent Cyberattack

October 2003 saw the beginning of the National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) and from then on it is globally celebrated each year in October to raise awareness about the importance of Cyber Security.

We live in a time where everything is connected to the Internet. In the last few months, due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the world’s dependency on the internet and technology-enabled applications has increased like never before. From working and learning remotely to purchasing the smallest of the items over the internet, our internet usage and screen time have increased exponentially due to this increased dependency. And so has the number of cyberattacks! Thus, it has become imperative for organisations to take proactive steps to secure their networks and the information that is transmitted through them and create a safer cyberspace.

GoDaddy, the world’s largest web domain registrar, became the target for one of the biggest cyberattacks where a hacker illegally accessed login information of the hosting accounts of 28,000 consumers. The organisation recognised suspicious activity on a subset of their servers on April 23, 2020, six months after the incident, which occurred on October 19, 2019, and immediately began an investigation. The unauthorised access to customers’ login credentials was used to connect to the secure shell (SSH) on their hosting account. The company instantly resorted to Defensive Cyber Security and reset the usernames and passwords of the targeted users and removed the offending SSH file from their platform to mitigate the attack.

What Are Defensive Security Techniques?

Defensive Cyber Security is one of the two important pillars of cyber security, the other being Offensive Cyber Security. Defensive techniques use methods like firewall management, patch management, password management, and network traffic analysis to ensure that networks and systems are safe from cyber threats. The core strategy of defensive security techniques lies in the extensive understanding of a system’s environment and analysing it to identify potential network flaws. Defensive Cyber Security Specialists, also known as Blue Team Experts, detect security vulnerabilities in organisational networks by performing risk-assessment and devise defensive strategies to prevent future threats.

On July 15, 2020, Twitter, a popular social media platform, faced one of the biggest cyberattacks of the year. Attackers targeted Twitter employees through a phone phishing attack and used employees’ credentials to access their internal systems and gain information about their processes. Following that, the hackers accessed several high-profile personalities’ Twitter accounts, including Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezoz, and Barack Obama, the former President of the United States. In a short period, the hackers had shared fake tweets requesting for donations in bitcoins from these verified accounts, leading to major damage. Upon detecting the breach, Twitter increased security protocols and defensive mechanisms to resolve the situation and prevent future threats.

How Can Defensive Cyber Security Techniques Mitigate Threats & Prevent a Cyberattack?

Experts in defensive technologies carry out risk assessment and develop defensive strategies by introducing stronger password policies, improving data integrity, and more. They continuously work towards keeping all security measures effective. They carry out these by performing the following activities:

  • Cyber Threat Intelligence Analysis: Experts perform Domain Name Server (DNS) audits to avoid phishing attacks. They perform digital footprint analysis to track users’ activity and recognise any known signatures that might indicate a security breach.
  • Defensive Engagement of the Threat: After evaluating the risks and prioritising it, cyber security specialists develop a strategy to implement controls that can lower the impact of threats emerging against networks and systems. They install endpoint security software on external devices such as laptops and ensure that firewall access controls are configured properly.
  • Focused Sharing and Collaboration: In this method, Defensive Cyber Security Specialists and Offensive Cyber Security Experts work collectively to protect systems from cyber attacks. These collaborations considerably aid in enhancing the cyber-threat intelligence analysis and strengthening the defense strategies.

This year marks the 17th anniversary of the National Cyber Security Awareness Month with the theme of ‘Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.’ The National Cyber Security Awareness Month aims to spread awareness about the importance of cyber security worldwide, encouraging individuals and organisations to play their part in taking proactive steps to create secure cyberspace. Defensive Cyber Security Techniques like firewall management, network traffic analysis, and patch management help organisations mitigate threats & prevent future cyberattacks.

By Gaurav Vohra, Co-founder and CEO, Jigsaw Academy

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