When a virus attacks the human body, it does not respond with passivity. It does not “wait and see” what the viral intruders will do; instead, our body immediately goes on the attack and does everything it possibly can to wipe out the invaders.
And all of this happens without us even really knowing about it. Sure, we might run a fever or have a cough (or in the case of something like COVID-19, the symptoms might be much worse). Otherwise, though, the body’s immune system has complete autonomy.
What exactly does any of this have to do with cybersecurity, though?
Quite a bit, it turns out. Today, even the smallest business now faces an impossibly large threat surface. The days of reactive cybersecurity, where we relied mainly on signature-based antiviruses and manual access controls, are now behind us. The threat landscape we now face requires a more proactive approach for several reasons:
- The shift to distributed work. It’s no longer solely corporate assets and systems that need to be protected. With more people than ever now working remotely, businesses also need to consider the risks presented by home networks.
- The IoT security nightmare. The Internet of Things continues to grow at a downright explosive pace during the pandemic. And vendors continue to ignore security in favor of more features and a quicker time to market. In other words, we’re looking at a massive threat surface with more holes in its security than a block of swiss cheese.
- Hackers are getting smarter. Criminals are, ironically, leveraging many of the same tactics as the businesses they target. Artificial intelligence to help them crack into enterprise networks, cloud services such as DDoS and Ransomware, etc.
What businesses need to address this is a system that can operate independently of IT and security teams, monitoring networks and endpoints 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A platform capable of autonomously detecting, identifying, and mitigating threats wherever and whenever they appear. Instead of practicing just cybersecurity, businesses need to start planning for cyber immunity,
The concept is relatively simple. Rather than requiring a team (or more frequently, a single administrator) to remain perpetually vigilant, a digital immune system leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to establish a ‘baseline’ for a network. Any actions that either go outside this baseline or display patterns similar to malicious software/bad actors are flagged by the system’s algorithms.
Note that this system does not render traditional security controls such as multi-factor authentication, encryption, and firewalls obsolete. Just as your skin and mucous membranes work to prevent foreign contaminants from entering your body, these traditional security measures are still your business’s first line of defense against outside threats.
In 2021, cybersecurity on its own is no longer enough. You need cyber immunity as well. Otherwise, you cannot feasibly claim to have a strong security posture.