Like many human experiences, technology solutions do not last forever, but can adapt and change to an ongoing narrative that continues to grow and develop. And in an ever-changing culture, businesses and organizations must embrace change. Security for your business is constantly changing, advancing and becoming more complex as threats become smarter and vulnerabilities become more prevalent. As a business leader or owner, you must embrace security as an ongoing lifecycle, which requires constant monitoring and updating that needs continuous attention rather than a singular “event” or a specific one-off occurrence.
The management of security is outlined into multiple phases aimed at proactively identifying, remediating and mitigating security vulnerabilities within the IT landscape. The key stages to consider include:
- Discovery: Identify all critical components of asset inventory to prepare for scans and tests to ensure your foundation is secured. This includes all your assets – not forgetting to include your employees and additional devices.
- Asset Prioritization: Thoroughly map out your network and organize the assets, drilling down to the relevant details – such as what software versions are being run on individual systems.
- Assessment: Prepare security measures by performing a vulnerability assessment that reviews the entire system and identifies the gaps, from the highest to lowest risks.
- Reporting: Measure and gather findings on the level of risks associated with your assets, ensuring configurations match according to security policies and are compliant.
- Remediation: Prioritize and fix vulnerabilities with necessary configurations and updates to establish controls and show progress.
- Verification and Monitoring: Checking up on the addressing of threats and risks via audits, and ensuring continuous monitoring routines are in place.
If the security lifecycle approach is implemented, your business will be better prepared for any future changes and concerns addressing any technology lifecycle.
What security vulnerabilities should you address?
Security vulnerabilities can exist in businesses when technology phases out or has upgrades. And the most recent news from Microsoft may leave many companies trying to figure out how it affects them and what to do next. . Here are the critical announcements starting with some key dates closely approaching:
- Microsoft teams will stop supporting Internet Explorer 11 on November 30, 2020 – which means it will not work at all or will not function at its optimal capacity
- Microsoft will end support for the old version of Edge – which will stop security updates on March 9, 2021
- Web-based services widely used by enterprises will stop supporting Internet Explorer 11 from August 17, 2021
Systems and technologies, even when supported, need to be continuously scanned for vulnerabilities, since these can be loopholes for cyberattackers to pose threats and gain access into your organization. And so, once Microsoft discontinues supporting these services, it will open up the gates for potential threats, leaving businesses even more vulnerable to an attack and unexpected costs.
How should you approach aging or outdated technology?
Patching current technologies is a regular practice for most businesses which works well. Unfortunately, at a certain point, the ability to patch will run out. And so, it is essential to understand the lifecycle of the specific technology being used and even more aware of timings for the next version. But keeping on top of what’s to come in the future is a part of a business that requires devoted time and effort. This means there should be someone – or a dedicated team – working on the newer version of the operating technology while your company is still on the older version. This way, the transition is not abrupt but thoroughly planned.
With that in mind, think about the broad range of technologies being used today: Chrome, Firefox, Edge browsers, Windows 10, Devon, Ubuntu, Centos, Linux, Dell, HP or Lenovo hardware. These all have individual lifecycles that require proper preparation for any update or change. No technology is exempt from this, and the Microsoft announcement is just a good example and reminder. Ultimately, not being aware of this and not keeping your business in line or ahead of the lifecycle of your hardware and software assets is where most threats to your business live. This happens when technology ages out, and the technical support that is once received, including updates, comes to a halt entirely.
It’s a never-ending cycle that will ensure organizations are proactively reducing their risks and, ultimately, exposure. Always remember that security is not a set-it-and-forget-it program. A layered approach to the security lifecycle is necessary, with three key pillars to consider for improved protection to your business and a greater strategy impact.
Explore the details of our 3 Pillars of Cybersecurity here – and understand how this multi-faceted strategy makes your business stronger. And, let us help manage your IT in a way that allows you to remain secure and better prepared for the complex future ahead.