Win tomorrow's fight in today's practice
Win tomorrow's fight in today's practice
Today's security professionals are dealing with a complex and rapidly evolving environment. As the cost of computing power falls, cyber-criminals are becoming better resourced, and able to focus on multiple vectors and distributed threats to attack organisations. This is in addition to our ever-expanding and evolving networks and dispersed servers; corporate and government data, for instance, is now in more places than ever before.  

What this expansion means, is that more and more functions at all levels within an organisation must be security-aware and their employees must be trained accordingly. New business departments – not just traditional networking or security practitioners – are having to think about cyber-security. These concerns are affecting professionals across IT and OT, DevOps, infrastructure and even building management systems. All must rise to these new challenges. 

Addressing today's cyber-threats across an organisation is only possible by combining innovative technology, skilled security professionals, enhanced security awareness across the organisation and effective security best practices. But how can you ensure your team is prepared before it is too late? The answer is to proactively prepare and train so that your organisation gets this practice in pre-emptively, and thus before someone actually targets and attacks. By building up a form of muscle memory when it comes to how to manage attacks, the likelihood of confidently preventing, containing and thus effectively responding to an attack when it does happen is much higher.

Practice is the best master

The most effective way for human beings to retain knowledge is to apply it beyond the classroom. We learn through practice. And for professionals seeking to learn how to protect their systems from a successful breach, that practice must be as realistic as possible. Cyber-security simulation ranges give IT professionals the opportunity to apply their skills in a realistic yet safe and controlled enterprise network environment. 

Such cyber-ranges simulate the dynamic nature of today's cyber-attacks which are unpredictable, with attackers changing tactics constantly and seek to out-manoeuver teams. Giving staff the opportunities to experience how to defend against the latest threats in a realistic but safe representation of the organisation means professionals can train with real life threat intelligence - which is continually updated - to remain relevant. They are given training on a variety of threat types, including ransomware, other advanced malware, client and server exploits, botnet C2 communications, credential theft and malicious websites. 

In short, such simulations help teams get real-world experience.

Simulate, then collaborate

The pressure of a real attack can change how teams operate together, and if it's the first time they are being attacked, it can change how individuals react and work as a team. When teams practice in an immersive, simulated – not synthetic – enterprise network environment, they are put under that same pressure. 

These types of environments help to breed a culture of teamwork and acceptance and allow professionals from diverse backgrounds and experiences to gain confidence with regard to the value they can bring to the organisation. 

It is about more than just technology. Getting involved in these scenarios lets professionals communicate and work together cross-functionally with a diverse group of peers. With a broader understanding and approach to cyber-security, teams can gather the full scope and context around an attack and confidently make decisions to prevent threats from impacting their organisation. Diversity of ideas, experiences, backgrounds, and interests are all essential considerations if we are to tackle the cyber-security skills gap in the UK - and around the world. 

Gamify to win

Introducing new and sophisticated ways of training can help to motivate and ingrain cyber-security practices within an organisation's culture. By working in teams under pressure, with some friendly competition and perhaps even rewards thrown into the mix, gamification means that cyber-security training can be made more fun and engaging. The lessons and experiences gained by those at the helm can be brought into the workplace immediately, so that they become ready to defend against complex and skilled opponents and to successfully prevent cybe-rattacks.

Greg Day, VP & CSO, EMEA, Palo Alto Networks

*Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of SC Media UK or Haymarket Media.

Disclosure: Palo Alto Networks has launched a Cyber Range in Amsterdam for its EMEA customers.