Cybersecurity continues to be a growing concern among all internet users and in all aspects of the virtual world.
Users and institutions cannot take it lightly as hacked networks can eventually affect their financial standing, marketing campaigns, their social media goals, and reputation, among others.
The prevalence of cyber crimes forces them to put up and strengthen their defenses and offensive strategies, including a comprehensive online backup system.
One of the concepts that emerged for cybersecurity is active cyber defense, or simply active defense.
Active defense has been an increasingly popular strategy, but in the process, its definition and surrounding issues have become blurry.
Active defense has a vital role to play in your company’s cybersecurity system.
To set it up effectively, however, you need to be armed with the right understanding about what it is, why it’s important, and what you can do with it to conquer cybersecurity threats.
So let’s start to clarify this concept.
Active defense refers to an array of proactive cybersecurity precautions classified between offense and inactive defense, as mentioned earlier, according to the World Economic Forum.
It is also sometimes interchangeably used with hack-backs, but calling it so remains debatable.
This is because, if that were the case, you in return, break into hackers’ networks and computers that first attacked you.
Active defense isn’t about striking the enemies.
It’s about the proactive and offensive actions you both take to outsmart the cyber intruder.
Active defense sometimes includes retaliation, but it’s better to leave that to the military and law enforcement.
They have the means and authority to confirm the source of the intrusion and apply appropriate action.
To help you understand the concept better, Robert Lee, co-founder of Dragos, an industrial cybersecurity firm, also explains it this way:
“You are prepared to actively deal with malicious actors who have crossed into your space. Sending missiles into someone else’s space is offense.
“Monitoring for missiles coming at you is passive defense. Shooting them down when they cross into your airspace is active defense.”
An example of active defense is a system that monitors any illegal entrance, detects it, responds by blocking future network links from that source, and notifies the system administrator.
Another example is the implementation of measures to determine and shut down botnets used to execute denial-of-service attacks.
In the two examples, the “response” and “shutting down” make for active cyber defense.
In contrast, an instance of passive cyber defense would be an encryption system which makes stored data or communications useless to intruders and spies.
Generally, it can also be classified into two kinds. First, it can refer to the technical interplay between a defender and the attacker.
Second, it can be the operations that allow defenders to gather intelligence on threat players and signals online, including non-cyber policy agents that can modify malicious players’ actions.
It’s in the second line of thought that most definitions and interchangeable meanings of active defense come in, as well as the reasons for its importance.
Active defense allows you to identify and detect threats and intruders, including insiders, hidden and inconspicuous ones, early on.
Even if it’s still an attempt, you can eliminate those intruders and defeat possible threats and further harm that they can inflict on your data, money, intellectual property, and other assets.
In this case, active defense takes on proactive and offensive actions that outwit the intruders and make the attack harder to be executed.
Frustrating or slowing down the intruder so he can’t move forward or completely penetrate increases his chances of making a mistake or exposing his identity and presence.
There are strategies you can implement as a means of active defense to slow down the attacker’s attempts to undermine your network.
Some of these strategies include vulnerability assessments and penetration testing.
You can employ these strategies effectively with the help of qualified cyber and IT experts who can set them up for you.
Depending on the company, these experts can perform those techniques on various web and mobile applications, systems, and networks.
Upon detecting the intruder’s attempts, active defense will enable you to collect the necessary intelligence about the attack so you can stop and avert similar future instances.
You can garner new insights about the source of the penetration or threat and find recommended remedies.
In a cybersecurity community, you can learn from other companies and share with them more valuable threat insights and intelligence about the attempt or assault.
The intelligence shared will help fortify your defenses, as well as that of the other companies and the whole cyber industry.
Active defense is not there to replace your cybersecurity surveillance measures and incident responses but to enhance them.
It enhances initiatives and decision-making processes by the concerned departments in your company.
For your security controls or operations team, active defense helps to give a clear set of improvement initiatives justified by the threat intelligence and cybersecurity analytics.
The team constructs countermeasures, hunts for hidden attackers, and fortifies defenses according to a substantial report of real intruders’ behavior.
For persons in the decision-making body, active defense helps distribute resources directly to measures of an effective cybersecurity program.
You can enhance performance-based objectives like “number of tickets completed” or “number of patches administered” by refocusing them.
You can demonstrate effectiveness through measures like increases in prevented threats, or decrease in the period taken to detect and eliminate successful attacks.
Companies’ most critical assets all hold real and considerable monetary value.
As such, there is a great need to protect them at all costs, as far as it is possible.
Directed by careful planning and defined desired outcomes, active defense will extensively improve the potency of your cybersecurity scheme and operations.
It will also help decrease the number of attacks that succeeded, and the period it takes intruders to run the operation before being expelled from the system.
Do you have additional thoughts on how to protect your online assets and why active defense is important?
Please feel free to share them with us below, and share this article on your social media posts. Cheers!