Purchasing a complex new security tool is one thing, but administering, maintaining, monitoring, and reporting on its performance to ensure it functions as intended is an entirely different challenge. Here’s where Security Control Management (SCM) comes in to get you the most out of your cybersecurity solutions and protect your IT environment from the threats of today and tomorrow.
What is Security Control Management?
Security Control Management (SCM) is the process and structure around proper and efficient deployment and management of cybersecurity controls to ensure they function as intended to protect your network, applications, endpoints, and data. This management includes administering and installing solutions, providing tool maintenance and updates, and ensuring 24×7 visibility on controls to monitor for security platform health.
While you can handle SCM internally, it can also be outsourced to a cybersecurity provider as a managed or co-managed service. Adopting a managed SCM service is a great way to maximize your technology investment with the help of an expert SCM partner. In many cases, businesses know what tools they need but don’t have the expertise or time to manage and maintain those controls in-house.
SCM is vital to protecting your IT environment as it ensures you have the proper security controls to mitigate your specific risks and that they are constantly up and running. Further, by deploying and activating particular controls, you can comply with any regulatory and insurance requirements your business may have.
The Four Types of Tools Used in SCM
SCM is a comprehensive, frequently evolving process that begins with identifying precisely what controls you need and then continuously adapting those solutions to address the constantly evolving threat landscape. There are four primary tools you can use in your security infrastructure for robust SCM:
Firewalls are a core security system for protecting your network and applications. They act as a broker that monitors and filters packet data to prevent unauthorized traffic from entering. As part of a complete SCM solution, you or your provider would determine which types of firewalls your business needs based on its infrastructure, risks, budget, and compliance requirements. The options include:
- Packet-filtering firewalls: Basic firewalls that allow or deny network traffic by comparing incoming packet header data to preset rules developed by the administrator.
- Stateful inspection firewalls: More advanced firewalls that analyze the entire packet, including headers, payloads, and context of the communications (where it is from and content of data packets), and monitor all active network connections to filter incoming traffic and identify potential threats.
- Proxy firewalls: Firewalls that broker traffic directly between the client (user) and server (application) to ensure it meets predefined policies set by an organization. Proxy firewalls have their own proxy servers and Internet Protocol (IP) addresses to act as an added layer for attacks directly at the application level, such as malware.
- Next-Generation firewalls (NGFWs): Sophisticated firewalls with supplemental controls in addition to network filtering, such as stateful packet inspection, intrusion prevention, threat intelligence, and application awareness for comprehensive security.
Firewalls demand a lot of maintenance activity, including policy development, patch and firmware management, performance tuning, hardware refreshing, and many others — making firewall SCM a critical but challenging task for most businesses. It’s important to remember that firewalls act as a first layer of network security that should be used in conjunction with other tools throughout the business to optimize security.
Web Application and API Protection (WAAP)
Web Application and API protection (WAAP) tools maintain security, uptime, and code integrity for software and application programming interface (API) integrations. Web applications often have vulnerabilities, such as insufficient authentication protocols or back-end system issues. These vulnerabilities let attackers access sensitive data or inject malicious code, making Web Application and API Protection (WAAP) a vital component of a concrete cybersecurity program.
A complete WAAP solution typically includes the following features:
- Web Application Firewall (WAF): Software-based firewall that is positioned between the internet and a web application to regulate what traffic can come into that system. It analyzes incoming traffic for behavior or attack patterns that indicate a threat and can also help enforce security policies for authentication protocols and access control.
- API security: Tools that allow applications to communicate securely with one another and ensure only authorized users can access the back-end API endpoints. Includes encryption controls to protect data moving between applications and authentication measures to keep unauthorized users from altering the integrations.
- Bot Mitigation: Policies and tools you can adopt for web applications that detect automated bots using behavioral analysis and CAPTCHA, block confirmed bots, or limit the amount of traffic and service requests to prohibit a large volume of bot traffic from overwhelming the system.
DoS (Denial of Service) Protection: Security safeguards like setting web traffic limits, caps on service requests made to a web application, and service throttle rules to prevent a vast number of malicious requests from overwhelming the web application system to the point of shutdown and disruption.
While it’s incredibly important to have secure and reliable applications, managing WAAP controls is a time-consuming process. You need a solid SCM strategy that ensures you’re consistently and effectively managing WAAP solutions as new applications and websites are developed. WAAP management includes ongoing optimization of security policies, monitoring of WAAP tool traffic, providing information to IT and application teams for patching/remediation, and so much more to maximize WAAP tool uptime and performance.
Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)
Endpoints, including computers, tablets, servers, and phones, are any IT assets connected to your organization’s network. They make excellent targets for delivering cyber-attacks because they host the applications and data accessed by users and can serve as a means to get into an entire IT network.
Estimates reveal that 70% of all security breaches originate from an endpoint. Therefore, a layered security strategy is essential. Security Configuration Management (SCM) should encompass this layered strategy and should include Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solutions to protect vulnerable endpoints.
As the name suggests, EDR is the combined set of tools that let you secure your endpoints. It will likely include key components such as:
- Continuous monitoring and analysis of endpoints to track events, identify suspicious activities, and spot threats that may have bypassed your firewall or other controls.
- Automated response and remediation policy that investigates suspicious events, isolates confirmed threats to a network segment, and minimizes the damage done by quickly quarantining it.
- Integration with tools like Security Orchestration Automation and Response (SOAR) and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems to collect and share endpoint data and initiate automated incident response procedures at the endpoint.
With EDR, you can proactively spot and remediate threats before they impact the rest of the IT network. SCM for EDR has evolved significantly in recent years. EDR, which once started as basic antivirus software, can now deploy its threat detection and response functions beyond endpoints and for an entire IT network through Extended Detection and Response (XDR).
In the past, while service providers only performed EDR procurement and initial installation for your business, many now deliver full-service SCM on EDR tools. In other words, they’ll handle end-to-end solution management, including administration, maintenance, troubleshooting, monitoring, and reporting on control effectiveness.
Vulnerability and Risk Management (VRM)
Vulnerability and risk management (VRM) is a part of the SCM stack that scans assets in your network and provides feedback for vulnerability mitigation and better asset security. It lets you identify precisely what controls (or updates) are needed based on your unique exposures, threats, and compliance requirements.
On the vulnerability side, SCM helps you find IT system weaknesses and flaws in your current security posture. You can use scanning tools and manual assessments to spot the most vulnerable, mission-impactful parts of your network that need immediate patching. On the other hand, risk management is broader and assesses the likelihood and impact of an incident on your organization — helping you prioritize and formulate a solid security strategy.
Complete VRM lets you constantly improve SCM with core functions like:
- Vulnerability assessments: Lets you prioritize where to add or update controls based on security weaknesses, the criticalness of those IT assets, and where you’re most likely to be targeted.
- Patch management: Allows you to understand which assets need system or software updates to account for newly discovered threats or vulnerabilities.
- Compliance monitoring: A system that tracks constantly evolving regulatory and industry updates to information security requirements so you can make changes to your program.
When incorporating VRM for SCM, conduct regularly scheduled assessments, including vulnerability scans, control gap analysis, and compliance monitoring. It’s also best to work with a third-party, non-partisan SCM provider that can offer expertise on vulnerability management and deliver controls that address your unique risks.
Get Security Control Management support with CyberMaxx
The cyber threat landscape never stops changing. Security Control Management (SCM) is the best answer for ensuring versatile, reliable security controls are always up-to-date. Schedule a call today to learn how CyberMaxx can serve as your end-to-end SCM service provider for administering, maintaining, and monitoring vital controls, including network firewalls, WAAP, EDR, and VRM.