Equifax and Minimizing Threat Surfaces

Cyber attacks, like last week’s announced data breach at Equifax, are going to continue to make headlines. We recently wrote about the cost of a cyber attack and with so many affected by this particular attack, it’s likely the cost will likely be the largest in history. It is rumored that this attack came through either an old unpatched vulnerability or a newly discovered vulnerability in the Apache Struts Web Framework. This leads to the question of how to best minimize threat surfaces.

Unfortunately, cyber criminals will remain one step ahead of victims through zero-day exploits and the creation of new attack vectors. And while the sophistication of attacks once inside of a network continue to evolve, the methods of entry have remained relatively consistent. The easiest ways to reduce threat surfaces is a matter of employee education and implementing patch management best practices.

By far the two most common methods of breaching a network are phishing (including spear phishing) of employees, and exploiting known yet unpatched vulnerabilities. Recent studies suggest that these two approaches account for the majority of malicious attacks, with phishing accounting for 60% of data breaches, and lack of patching accounting for 40% of data breaches.

As the data above demonstrates, security is everyone’s responsibility. While it is centralized with IT, managing evolving security threats is just one of the challenges the department faces, no matter the size. Smaller companies are resource constrained, managing multiple departmental responsibilities and putting out fires as they come up. Enterprise level organizations tend to lack communication between operations and security teams to effectively implement security best practices.

Whether companies are overconfident in their security efforts or overwhelmed and simply hoping for the best, there are basic steps that can be implemented within hours that can dramatically reduce threat surfaces. Keeping attackers out is far easier than repairing the damage they create once they’re in the system.

Continuous education and training on email protocols and what to do when an email looks suspicious will help employees from unwittingly granting access to an attacker. Periodic reminders are important to keep this information top of mind for everyone. A one time seminar with a powerpoint that gets filed away and forgotten about is not enough. This is an ongoing effort.

Another ongoing effort that is far easier to manage is patch automation. Automox is one of a new breed of solutions that keeps systems, including laptops, desktops, virtual machines, docker containers, and servers patched in real time.

Automation is absolutely necessary to manage critical security practices such as patching. Historically, the patching process was cumbersome and time consuming due to the number of patches released and the time required to test and then remediate each system. As a cloud based solution, Automox displays your entire inventory in a single dashboard, including Windows, Linux and Mac OS devices, and allows you to patch them all immediately or execute the patches within your existing workflow. It’s automation you control to meet your needs.

If you’re connected to the Internet, it’s impossible to ever be 100% secure from attacks. However, improving your security posture is a lot easier and more affordable than you may have realized. Through automation and training, you can reduce the number of attack vectors available to hackers, and allow IT Operations and Security to focus on hardening other areas of the network.

About Automox

Facing growing threats and a rapidly expanding attack surface, understaffed and alert-fatigued organizations need more efficient ways to eliminate their exposure to vulnerabilities. Automox is a modern cyber hygiene platform that closes the aperture of attack by more than 80% with just half the effort of traditional solutions.

Cloud-native and globally available, Automox enforces OS & third-party patch management, security configurations, and custom scripting across Windows, Mac, and Linux from a single intuitive console. IT and SecOps can quickly gain control and share visibility of on-prem, remote and virtual endpoints without the need to deploy costly infrastructure.

Experience modern, cloud-native management today with a 15-day free trial of Automox and start recapturing more than half the time you're currently spending on managing your attack surface. Automox dramatically reduces corporate risk while raising operational efficiency to deliver best-in-class security outcomes, faster and with fewer resources.