Within the field of digital forensics, there are times when the best offence is defence. Although the central role of digital forensics is the recovery of assets following a cyber-attack, the knowledge acquired through analysis of an incident can be used to implement preventative measures also. In order to outline the efficacy of digital forensics in preventing data breaches, this article will endeavour to give you the low-down on how digital forensics can be used proactively to improve cybersecurity.
The True Value of Digital Forensics:
The greatest value of digital forensics is not its ability to reduce breaches, but to learn from them. The protection of an organisation’s digital assets is achieved by digital forensics and cybersecurity working hand-in-hand. Although generally viewed by most people as two separate fields at opposing ends of a larger security funnel, they actually merge into one another like two circles on a Venn diagram. Rather than use the two fields individually, an organisation needs to use digital forensics and cybersecurity in tandem in order to maximise the security of their assets. Take the following example: A local server of a cloud service provider (CSP) is compromised. In many cases, the digital intrusion will not be immediately detected. Furthermore, the fundamental security issue with many CSPs is the challenge of ensuring data isolation – the multitenancy and lack of network isolation makes cloud data vulnerable to attack in the first place. The complex virtual platforms of most CSPs, when bypassed, give the hacker access to the virtual machines that control them. A malicious actor, by altering the state of one of these virtual machines, could prevent further monitoring and detection as they infiltrate each virtual platform and extract data belonging to other CSP users on a multi-tenant cloud set-up. The example may seem elaborate, but it gives insight into the difficulties of tracking the source of a data breach.
On the surface, it may appear that only one cloud server tenant has had its data compromised. In reality, the CSP’s ineffective server controls are what led to the breach. Digital forensics allows the CSP to analyse the attack to gain knowledge on how to improve security flaws, and it allows the victims involved to trace the source of the attack. Vulnerabilities in cybersecurity infrastructure that have already been exploited can be eliminated by mapping out the path of an attack, thereby allowing businesses to improve their cybersecurity. Skilled cybersecurity providers utilise the insights gained from digital forensics of vast numbers of breaches in order to identify trends in hacker techniques, and use improved methodology to help protect their clients from unwanted intrusion. Nevertheless, digital forensics needn’t be used just retroactively to inform future cybersecurity improvements – it can also be used proactively to identify and stop threats in their tracks, as they happen.
You Can’t Save 100% of Your Data, 100% of the Time
The most important goal when it comes to protecting your digital assets in the event of a cyber-attack is ensuring that a security incident does not become a security breach. As Harvard Business Review reports, ‘You can’t save 100% of your data 100% of the time’. Every so often, malicious actors will likely be able to bypass your security protocols. The way to ensure that your company is protected through identification of this activity as it arises is via digital forensics. For this reason, cybersecurity providers are now beginning to integrate automated machine learning solutions for their clients, which monitor digital activity to identify suspicious behaviour as it occurs. This is an example of how digital forensics can be used proactively as a cybersecurity tool to prevent isolated incidents progressing to massive data breaches.
Digital forensics can also be used by organisations themselves to improve their proactive cybersecurity solutions. A large obstacle in the field of cybersecurity is the fact that techniques and equipment are constantly becoming obsolete in the face of technological advancement. Therefore, what may one year be a strong and comprehensive cybersecurity system could just as easily become obsolete the following year if efforts are not made in order to update, review and maintain protocols. This process can be facilitated in part by proactive digital forensics. Businesses can, with the aid of cybersecurity providers, perform regular evaluations of their IoTs, networks and servers to identify any vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.
How to Incorporate Proactive Digital Forensics into Your Cybersecurity Program
The task of integrating digital forensics into a cybersecurity program is difficult, though it is possible. Here is an overview of available options that you might like to explore, if your organisation is looking to upgrade its cybersecurity approach.
Follow the Trail
Analyse the incident to determine how the malicious actors were able to penetrate your security protocols. Find out whether they attempted to extract data or information once they got into your system. These are important parts of mapping out the path of a cyber-attack, and will inform you of how you need to improve your defences so that the same vulnerabilities are not exploited again.
Improve Security Measures Based On Past Data
Following a breach, the insights offered by digital forensics are an invaluable asset for your cybersecurity team. They provide lessons that will show you how to shape future security measures. In light of this, the collection and preparation of data is of the utmost importance in ensuring this improvement.
Employ Experts in the Field
While many people understand the benefits of cybersecurity and digital forensics, the task of integrating them to form a comprehensive and self-evaluating program is challenging and needs to be done correctly. By enlisting the support of cybersecurity professionals with decades of experience in the field, you can be sure that your systems are secure. If your organisation is looking for a 360-degree approach to cybersecurity with proactive digital forensics, look no further than Advanced German Technology.
AGT’s team of analysts and engineers are experts in their fields, and will ensure that you are able to develop, implement and maintain an effective and evolving cybersecurity program. To learn more about how we can help you to protect your business, contact us today.