6 Benefits of Continuous Monitoring for Cybersecurity
Data breaches have been on the rise over the last several years, and they’re costing businesses millions in damages.
According to the Cost of a Data Breach Report 2022 report by IBM and Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach reached a record $4.35 million last year. US businesses saw the highest costs across the globe — an average $9.4 million.
Yet the study saw companies with fully deployed security AI and automation tools reduce those costs by over $3 million. Those organizations were also able to identify a security breach nearly 30% faster than organizations without security AI and automation in place.
Security automation such as continuous monitoring has a tremendous impact on an organization’s ability to prevent and triage costly security incidents. Keep reading to learn how continuous monitoring works, security monitoring best practices, and more.
What is continuous monitoring in cybersecurity?
Continuous monitoring is a cybersecurity practice that involves ongoing surveillance and analysis of an organization's IT infrastructure, systems, and applications to detect potential security threats and vulnerabilities. The purpose of continuous monitoring is to maintain the security of an organization's assets and ensure that they are protected against potential cyberattacks.
Just like home security systems that can alert you when a person approaches your home or a smoke detector goes off, continuous monitoring uses automation to constantly monitor your IT environment for cyber risk and flag anomalies.
Continuous monitoring can involve several techniques, including:
- Vulnerability scans: Automated tooling periodically scans an organization’s systems to identify and prioritize vulnerabilities. Paired with regular penetration testing, where an ethical hacker finds and exploits deeper vulnerabilities within a system, vulnerability scanning can help organizations identify and respond to potential threats quickly.
- Intrusion detection systems: Device or application that monitors systems and networks for behavioral anomalies, policy violations, and malicious activity.
- Log analysis: Software tools that collect and analyze log data from various sources, such as system logs, application logs, network logs, and security logs.
- Security information and event management (SIEM) solutions: A specialized type of log analysis solution that collects and analyzes log data across an organization’s digital assets to identify potential security threats and incidents.
- Network traffic analysis: Monitoring network traffic to identify potential security threats and other IT issues.
- Threat intelligence: The practice of collecting and analyzing information about tactics, techniques, and procedures used by cyber criminals as well as indicators of compromise to understand and identify potential cyber threats.
These techniques are used by security teams to collect as much information as possible about the organization's IT environment, threat landscape, and attack surface. That data is analyzed for potential security risks so the organization can take proactive measures to understand, prevent, and/or mitigate any potential security incidents.
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How does automated continuous monitoring work?
Automated continuous monitoring works by using software tools and technologies to collect, analyze, and respond to security threats and vulnerabilities in real time. Automated continuous monitoring typically follows a standard process:
- Data collection: Automated tools collect data from various sources, such as system logs, network traffic, and security devices.
- Data normalization: The collected data is then organized and formatted to prepare for analysis.
- Data analysis: Normalized data is analyzed using techniques such as machine learning and statistical analysis to identify potential security threats and vulnerabilities.
- Threat monitoring and detection: Once potential threats are identified, they are classified based on their severity and prioritized for mitigation. Alerts are automatically generated when a security incident is detected.
- Response: Automated responses can be initiated based on the severity of the incident. For example, a system can be automatically quarantined or traffic can be automatically blocked.
- Remediation: After the incident is contained, remediation steps can be taken automatically to address any security vulnerabilities that were exploited and to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
By using automated tools to continuously monitor their IT environment, organizations can stay ahead of emerging threats, respond quickly to security incidents, and maintain a strong security posture. Automated continuous monitoring can be especially beneficial for organizations with large and complex IT environments, as it reduces the risk of human error and enables security personnel to focus on higher-priority tasks.
Benefits of continuous monitoring for information security and risk management
There are several benefits of continuous monitoring for cybersecurity:
- Early threat detection: Continuous monitoring allows organizations to detect cyber threats and vulnerabilities in real-time, giving them the ability to respond quickly and to contain a security incident and prevent it from escalating.
- Proactive response: Continuous monitoring enables organizations to take a proactive approach to cybersecurity, identifying potential threats before they can cause damage to the organization's information systems, data, or reputation.
- More effective risk management: Continuous monitoring helps organizations to identify and prioritize security risks, allowing them to allocate resources effectively and manage their cybersecurity risks more efficiently.
- Continuous compliance: Continuous monitoring helps organizations comply with regulatory requirements such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, NIST, and GDPR. By continuously monitoring their systems and applications, organizations can ensure that they are continuing to meet the necessary security standards.
- Improved incident response: Continuous monitoring allows organizations to respond to security incidents more effectively by providing them with detailed information about the attack, including the origin and type of attack and the extent of the damage.
- Enhanced visibility: Continuous monitoring provides organizations with increased visibility into their IT environment, allowing them to monitor network security, user activity, and system logs, and identify potential IT security threats or suspicious behavior.
Continuous monitoring is essential for information security because it allows organizations to detect and respond to security threats in real time. It helps organizations identify vulnerabilities and potential threats before they can be exploited, reducing the risk of data breaches, financial losses, and reputational damage.
By implementing continuous monitoring, organizations can proactively manage their security risks and comply with regulatory requirements such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR. It also helps organizations to maintain a robust security posture, improving their overall security resilience and reducing the likelihood of cyberattacks.
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Best practices for effective cybersecurity monitoring
As with your other security controls and initiatives, it’s important to understand best practices so you can implement continuous monitoring effectively. Here are some guidelines to follow for effective security monitoring:
- Define clear security objectives: Define your organization's cybersecurity objectives, including what data and systems need to be protected. It’s also important to reference your risk management and risk assessment methodology to understand which threats carry the greatest likelihood and impact.
- Establish a baseline: What constitutes normal network and system behavior? This will help you identify any anomalies or suspicious activity that may indicate a security incident.
- Use multiple data sources: Collect data from multiple sources to gain a comprehensive overview of your IT environment and attack surface, including network logs, system logs, and security devices.
- Leverage threat intelligence: Use threat intelligence feeds to identify known attack indicators and patterns and stay up-to-date with emerging threats.
- Automate monitoring: Use automation to streamline security monitoring tasks, such as log collection and analysis, and reduce the risk of human error.
- Get real-time visibility: Use dashboards to monitor your IT environment and compliance status in real time.
- Implement anomaly detection: Use anomaly detection tools to identify suspicious behavior or traffic patterns that may indicate a security incident.
- Conduct regular internal audits: Periodic internal security audits can ensure that your security monitoring practices are effective and aligned with your organization’s overall security objectives.
- Create an incident response plan: Develop an incident response plan that outlines how to respond to various security incidents and ensure that all relevant stakeholders are aware of their roles and responsibilities.
- Continuously improve: Continuously improve your security monitoring practices based on feedback, lessons learned from past incidents, and emerging threats.
How Secureframe’s continuous monitoring tools enhance your cybersecurity program
Continuous monitoring is an essential component of an effective data security strategy, helping organizations protect their sensitive data, intellectual property, and critical business operations from the growing threat of cyberattacks.
Secureframe’s robust continuous monitoring gives you complete visibility and actionable insights into critical security and privacy compliance issues.
- Connect to our 150+ integrations to continuously monitor your tech stack
- Get alerts when tests fall out of compliance with frameworks such as SOC 2, ISO 27001, PCI DSS, HIPAA, and more.
- Customize notifications for ongoing tasks such as user access reviews, employee policy acceptance and security awareness training, and annual penetration testing
- Conduct automatic vulnerability scanning for Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE)
To learn more about Secureframe’s security and privacy compliance automation platform, schedule a demo with a product expert.
What is continuous monitoring in cybersecurity?
Continuous monitoring involves ongoing surveillance and analysis of an organization's IT infrastructure, systems, and applications. It's a common cybersecurity practice that helps organizations detect and respond to potential security threats and vulnerabilities.
What is an example of continuous monitoring?
Continuous monitoring involves monitoring systems to detect threats and identify non-compliance issues, such as misconfigurations. An example of continuous monitoring would be analyzing network traffic to flag anomalies or suspicious activity.
How is continuous monitoring done?
Continuous monitoring can involve several techniques, including vulnerability scanning, intrusion detection systems, log analysis, security information and event management (SIEM) solutions, network traffic analysis, and threat intelligence.
Why is continuous monitoring important?
Continuous monitoring is important for several reasons. It allows for early threat detection, faster incident response, more effective risk management, and continuous compliance with regulatory requirements such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, NIST, and GDPR.