4 ways your company can avoid a data breach

Only one in three organizations say they are confident they can prevent data breaches, according to Balbix.

IoT and the security challenges that tech companies face Cisco's Michele Guel, Distinguished Engineer and Chief Security Architect, discusses IoT and how enterprises are working to secure the IoT infrastructure.

More than two-thirds (67%) of cybersecurity professionals said they do not have the time and resources to mitigate all security vulnerabilities to avoid a data breach, according to a Wednesday report from Balbix and the Ponemon Institute.

The lack of resources includes a shortage of cybersecurity staff, the report found: Of the 600 cybersecurity leaders and professionals surveyed, 68% said they believe their staffing does not have a strong security posture. Another 63% said the inability to act on the large number of security alerts and actions is problematic for their organization. And only 15% said that their patching efforts were "highly effective," the report found.

SEE: Incident response policy (Tech Pro Research)

"From this research, it is clear that most enterprises recognize not only are they under-resourced in finding and managing their vulnerabilities, but they also have gaps around assessing the risk and getting full visibility across their IT assets, which no doubt led to that low confidence vote in their ability to avoid a data breach," Larry Ponemon, founder and chairman of Ponemon Institute, said in a press release.

The volume of data breaches is only expected to grow in size, frequency, and impact over the next year, according to the report, and organizations must be prepared to combat attacks. Here are four ways for businesses to avoid cyber breaches, the report recommended:

1. Fully discover your attack surface—everything that touches your network, and every way it might get attacked

Organizations must uncover all internal, cloud, and third-party IT assets that touch their network and could act as an entry point for cybercriminals. This includes servers, applications, managed IT infrastructure, and cloud assets, but also BYOD, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, industrial control systems (ICS), and third-party assets from other business partners, the report noted. Businesses should also be aware of the more than 250 attack vectors, including phishing and malware, that could lead to an attack.

SEE: Security awareness and training policy (Tech Pro Research)

2. Understand your overall cyber-risk and the specific business risk of each asset if it were breached

The majority of organizations (60%) have not incorporated cyber risk into their vulnerability management program, the report found. Adding the ability to assess the cyber risk of every asset touching your network can help determine the total cyber risk of your enterprise, and ways to assess and improve your cybersecurity posture.

3. Use risk-based analysis to prioritize which fixes SecOps and IT teams should work on, postpone, and ignore

Since the majority of organizations reported a gap between the number of security alerts received and the resources available to work through them, understanding your device and cyber risks can help prioritize what issues to fix in what order, including unpatched software, password issues, and misconfigurations.

4. Make SecOps and IT more productive by automating the discovery of asset inventory and vulnerabilities, as well as the creation of prioritized fixes and resulting tickets

Some organizations are turning to automated tools to help close cybersecurity gaps. Automation capabilities are increasingly included in cybersecurity solutions, and have created new market categories like security orchestration, automation and response (SOAR), the report noted. When seeking out new cybersecurity tools with automation, businesses should assess how the tools actually use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to work, the report recommended.

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By Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.