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Gaurav Banga, Balbix: security must become everyone’s job

With the advance of AI and machine learning, a growing number of organizations are beginning to use these technologies to defend against cyber threats. But while cybersecurity teams are automating their defenses, threat actors are breathing down their necks by taking advantage of the same techniques to carry out their attacks.

With the growing adoption of automated security solutions as an answer to skills shortages and ever-expanding attack surfaces, the promise of AI-powered security tools has never been brighter.

Gaurav Banga, the CEO and Founder of Balbix, shares how organizations can leverage automated security solutions to stay ahead of threat actors.

According to PRNewswire, Balbix is the world's leading platform for cybersecurity posture automation. What makes you stand out from the crowd?

Organizations, whether public or private and regardless of industry, are increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks as their attack surfaces expand and threat actors become more sophisticated.

Balbix provides a real-time view into their breach risk with itemized and prioritized insights that enables the automation of their cybersecurity posture. Balbix understands that cyber teams require board room and C-Suite buy-in, and to address this need, we released the Balbix Automated Cyber Risk Quantification (CRQ) solution.

Unlike other risk dashboards, Balbix Automated CRQ classifies risk in monetary terms, making it easier than ever to report the impact of cyber risk to the board room and C-suite. This is just one example of the full suite of tools that Balbix provides to security teams to stay ahead of threat actors and identify, secure and manage their assets.

Balbix's mission is to “automate company’s cybersecurity posture and reduce their breach risk.” Can you explain why automation is so important in today’s cybersecurity practices?

Organizations are deploying thousands of devices and hundreds of apps on-prem and in the cloud, trying to manage millions of alerts every day to keep up in an increasingly digital and dispersed world.

With the sheer number of assets, cybersecurity can no longer be managed at a human scale. It’s simply too much. Because information security teams are generally strapped for time, resources, and budget, Balbix provides automation that assists teams to quickly reduce the size of their attack surface by removing most of their repetitive and time-intensive tasks.

Additionally, automation can reduce the strain on security teams, allowing them more time to focus on the most important issues and reduce burnout.

Which new cyber threats have emerged because of the pandemic?

As work went remote and teams became dispersed, employees began mixing their personal devices with work devices. As a result, we saw a 22% uptick in phishing attacks in the first half of 2021, compared to the same period in 2020. These malicious emails and texts allow threat actors the opportunity to steal login credentials or personal information to carry out a broader attack.

Unfortunately, more than 99 percent of people reuse their passwords across multiple applications. To help mitigate the risk of phishing attacks, Balbix helps cybersecurity teams monitor for reused passwords, so they can educate their users about having better security hygiene.

Security must become everyone’s job - not just the IT team’s.

In turn, are there any new security trends you are currently witnessing that might have appeared due to the pandemic? Which are here to stay?

I think the biggest trend in security is that more people are finally paying attention to cybersecurity.

Before, many industries saw cybersecurity as an added feature VS a necessity, which has brought us to our current situation.

Now, we are seeing the U.S. government debate cybersecurity policy, major corporations creating coalitions – going so far as to pledge $31 billion to bolster cybersecurity, and the general public not only watching but demanding that their personal data is properly secured.

As people and governments come to realize the value their data carries, companies continue to focus on digitalization and are deploying new systems. As long as attack surfaces grow, cybersecurity will certainly remain mainstream.

It seems like remote work isn’t going anywhere yet, so what actions can businesses take to protect their employees and sensitive data?

The first step to protecting sensitive data in the age of remote work is to implement automated cybersecurity posture tools to identify where they are the most exposed to attackers.

This is easier said than done, as large organizations have hundreds of thousands of devices, and there are many ways to attack each of them. Balbix unifies all of this information into a single risk model to help security teams prioritize patching and stay on top of critical vulnerabilities that could lead to a data breach or cyberattack.

What role does AI play in cybersecurity?

In recent years, AI has emerged as a required technology for augmenting the efforts of human information security teams. Humans can no longer scale to adequately protect the dynamic enterprise attack surface.

AI provides much-needed analysis and threat identification that can be acted upon by cybersecurity professionals to reduce breach risk and improve security posture. In cybersecurity, AI identifies and prioritizes risk, as well as instantly spots vulnerabilities while guiding incident response and detecting intrusions before they start.

In general, AI improves our ability to see what is happening in near real-time and makes that information actionable.

Many companies suffered from data breaches. What are the crucial next steps they must take after a breach to eliminate the threat and protect themselves and their customers from future attacks?

Immediately after detecting a breach, a company should take the affected part of their network offline, disconnect auxiliary devices, and isolate the devices which have been infected. The step of segmentation is crucial to ceasing further spread of a virus or blocking a hacker from moving around their network.

Second, organizations must inform any employees, customers, and partners whose data has been impacted. This is key in maintaining good relationships and building trust as they work through a challenging event.

We’ve seen top security companies fall victim to breaches but their proactive outreach after the attack – quickly admitting the issue and working with the community, including competitors, to alert the industry – actually increased their reputation and business.

Third, after the company has isolated the infected part of its network and informed its stakeholders, it comes the time to remove the malware and compromised accounts. The IT team restores critical systems from a previous backup while ensuring that forensic images and data have been collected to facilitate better security practices.

Finally, they need to review the breach to understand where their defenses came up short and put an action plan together to improve their security posture.

How can organizations adapt their security to be ready for tomorrow’s malware attacks?

The most important thing to recognize is that cybersecurity is a game of cat and mouse, where every step we take in the direction of securing an organization, the adversary takes three. It’s impossible to be 100% secure, but we can take proper steps to reduce the likelihood and impact of malware attacks and other threats. To do so, I recommend the following.

Security leaders need to discuss cybersecurity posture in monetary terms when presenting to the C-suite and the Board. Cybersecurity requires buy-in from the whole organization, and starting from the top ensures security teams have the resources they need to stay secure. Executives and board members make decisions based on dollars and cents.

To get started, security teams can download a CISO board presentation that the team at Balbix has put together. It is a nine-slide template that has been downloaded thousands of times. A presentation quantifying cyber risk in financial terms empowers security leaders – CIOs and CISOs – to present the actual costs of a potential cyberattack to the board with clarity and accuracy. By doing so, security leaders are much more likely to receive the financial support they need to be effective.

Cyber teams should remediate their sources of the highest risk first. In order to have the biggest possible impact on security posture improvement, organizations need to identify where they are most likely to be breached and understand the business impact if those assets are breached. Prioritizing alerts in terms of their financial impact on the business will have the greatest effect on overall risk reduction.

Finally, organizations should add automation to their security practices wherever possible. By implementing automated processes, they can reduce the strain on security teams, improve their visibility and allow them to respond faster when they identify issues.

What’s next for Balbix?

Our customers and partners are some of our most important advisors, and what they tell us is that digital transformation is real. As news organizations have reported, these programs have only accelerated during the pandemic, particularly the move to the cloud.

This is true for Balbix, too. To meet our customers’ needs, the Balbix security posture automation platform is cloud-based and doesn’t require the installation of agents or appliances.

Going forward, we are adding more capabilities to provide our customers with a unified view of their overall cybersecurity risk posture, whether their vulnerabilities are on-premises, in the cloud, or across a hybrid environment. These investments will allow them to reduce the number of security tools they are using and unify the view of their cyber risk posture, even as they undergo a digital transformation.

One thing that won’t change in the future is the ability of our customers to share this visibility up and down their organization, with customized dashboards for the whole team, from security practitioners to the executive team, to help accelerate the identification and mitigation of risk.

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