Digital risk protection (DRP) is the practice of protecting organizations from cyber threats during digital transformation.
Rather than reacting to cyber threats after they're discovered, cybersecurity strategies must shift to a proactive approach to protection. This is the key to supporting ecosystem expansion while mitigating risk.
Digital Risk Protection was developed to fill meet this desperate requirement, starting from social media channels and extending to all digital assets exposed to potential threats,
What is Digital Risk?
Digital risk refers to all unwanted consequences that result from digital transformation.
The negative outcomes of adopting new technology are difficult to predict. New solutions may introduce undetected vulnerabilities that cyber attackers may eventually exploit.
Certain data processing conditions may also trigger new unpredictable data breach vulnerabilities.
Digital risk protection aims to mitigate such undesired outcomes so that organizations can fearlessly embrace the digital transformation necessary to scale in this fast-paced era.
Types of Digital Risk
To simplify the application of digital risk protection, all digital risks must first be categorized.
Every category of digital risk has an impact on cybersecurity, and because these risks occur along the digital landscape, disturbances within a single risk category could have ripple effects across all other categories.
There are 9 types of digital risk:
Refers to all risks of cyberattacks upon an expanding attack surface. The aim of most of these attacks is to access and exfiltrate sensitive data.
Though a subset to cybersecurity risks, data leaks should be a separate risk category because they're a prevalent by-product of digital transformation.
A data leak is the unintentional exposure of sensitive data that could develop into a data breach. During digital transformation, sensitive data often slips through the interface of the expanding digital landscape. This occurs because the digital landscape often expands faster than threat monitoring solutions can.
Organizations are at heightened risk of a data breach when they leak their own data and also when their vendors leak data. A data leak security solution should, therefore, be capable of monitoring data leaks both internally and throughout the vendor network.
Labor-related risks that could inhibit the growth objectives of a business. This could be include skills shortage, high employee turnover, payment disputes.
All risks introduced by service providers and third-party vendors. This could include, data breaches, intellectual property theft, financial data theft.
Any risks that arise from cloud architectural amendments, the deployment of new platforms (such as IoT devices), or the implementation of new IT systems.
Any risks associated with regulatory requirement non-compliance. Such risks are usually introduced with the adoption of new technology or the onboarding of vendors operating in highly regulated industries.
Risks that arise when automation processes are modified, such as compatibility issues.
Process automation risks could arise from customer service improvement efforts, or the introduction of new business models.
Any risks related to service availability after a disruption, such as damage caused by new technology or cyberattacks.
Refers to any risk affecting the protection of sensitive data. Such as personally identifiable information, financial information, etc.
Each risk results from a specific digital transformation initiative. The three primary expansion initiative and their corresponding risks are outlined below:
1) Increased operational efficiencies
2) New business models
- Third-party risk
- Cloud technology
- Process automation
3) Customer service improvements
- Data privacy
How to Mitigate Digital Risk
The scope of digital protection options is vast. To accelerate digital risk protection efforts, a suggested solution for each type of digital risk is outlined below:
Mitigating Cyberattack Risks
Mitigating Third-Party Risks
Third-parties could introduce considerable security risks to a resilient ecosystem. Each vendor should be scrutinized with a risk assessment and evaluated with a security scoring system prior to onboarding.
Mitigating Workforce Risks
Workforce risk associated with skills shortages can be remediated with a freelancer workforce.
Rather than being a permanent integration, the freelancer component of such a hybrid model can be leveraged seasonally to fill sudden skill shortages.
The workforce could also play a key role in introducing cyberattack risks.
If tricked by a fraudulent email, a staff member becomes an attack vector that introduces malicious threats into an ecosystem.
To prevent this from happening, all staff need to be aware of the methods of common fraud tactics so they can identify when a breach attempt is taking place.
The following resources can be used for cybercrime awareness training in the workplace.:
- Phishing attacks
- Social Engineering Attacks
- DDoS attacks
- Ransomware attacks
- Malware attacks
- Clickjacking attacks
Mitigating Cloud Technology Risks
Attack surface management solutions also monitor networked cloud solutions for security vulnerabilities. To further mitigate risks, cloud platforms should also be continuously monitored for data leaks that could develop into data breaches.
Mitigating Compliance Risks
An organization in a heavily regulated industry could surface security issues that could breach regulatory requirements with an attack surface management platform.
The compliance of vendors can be ensured with a third-party risk management solution capable of producing risk assessments for all compliance categories, such as GDPR compliance, modern slavery compliance, etc.
Mitigating Process Automation Risks
Process automation risk assessments will evaluate the efficiency and resilience of all automation strategies.
An automation risk assessment should evaluate the following
- Operational efficiency of the process.
- Compatibility of all networked processes.
- Human labor requirements (which could influence workforce risks).
- Effects (positive and negative) on overall business productivity.
- Effects (positive and negative) on customer service.
As evidenced in the above list, each type of digital risk could be influenced by any of its surrounding categories.
Mitigating Business Resilience Risk
Cyberattacks are the primary events that create business resilience risks. By having a clear and regularly updated Business Response Plan on hand, service availability will be maximized, even after suffering a data breach.
Mitigating Data Privacy Risks
To mitigate data privacy risks, all resources housing sensitive data need to be secured.
This can be achieved through any of the following methods:
- Implementing honeytokens
- Securing Privileged Access Management
- Implementing a Zero Trust Architecture
- Using an attack surface monitoring solution to identify all sensitive resource vulnerabilities.
Digital Risk Management Framework
A digital risk management framework breaks down the requirements of each mitigation initiative and identifies the most suitable risk solutions. It could be used to process all categories of digital risk.
A digital risk management framework is comprised of the following components:
Digital risk type
Identifies the specific category of risk
The desired risk protection result.
Visibility into all vulnerabilities expected threats through the context of each risk category.
Data evaluating the severity of all identified risks and the best remediation efforts,
Targeted and timely action.
These efforts provide a framework through which all digital risks should be processed. This will help identify the best course of action required to mitigate each identified risk.
To demonstrate the application of this framework, consider an example of a law firm concerned about the security of their vendors.
To discover the best course of risk mitigation action, the problem is fed through the digital risk management framework and broken down in the following way:
Type of risk: Third-party risk
Goal: Seamlessly deliver legal services with the support of a third-party vendor network while mitigating security risk from third-pary relationships. This secure workflow should be achieved without dedicated internal resource to cybersecurity efforts.
Visibility and insights: Achieving this goal requires visibility into each vendor's security posture to evaluate the risk of third-party breaches. Since law is a heavily regulated industry, each vendor's level of regulatory compliance needs to be assessed.
Action: Improve third-party risk management by implementing an attack surface monitoring solution for both the internal and external network.
This solution should prioritize remediation efforts for vulnerabilities most exposed to external access and, therefore, at the highest risk of exploitation.
Because legal services is a heavily regulated industry, a digital risk protection solution should be capable of mitigating non-compliance resulting from poor vendor security practices
Result: Entrust cybersecurity experts with the complete scope vendor security through the integration of a Third-Party Risk Management service. This will expedite data breach resilience and compliance throughout the third-party network without affecting internal resource distribution.
How to Manage Digital Risks
Digital risk protection efforts should have a strong focus on the cybersecurity data leak risk categories. When exploited, these risks cause the greatest detriment to an organization compared to other digital risk categories.
Social media channels require specific monitoring efforts because their increased dependency is a natural result of digital transformation. Cybercriminals know this and have shifted their focus to the social media landscape.
Organizations with a complex digital landscape will achieve greater financial efficiency by investing in a Digital RIsk Protection Service (DRPS), rather than dedicated internal resources to digital risk protection.
Digital risk protection can be managed in 4 steps.
For more information on digital risk management, read this post.
1. Identify all Critical Assets
A digital footprint should be created identify all critical assets at risk of exposure.
This could include:
- Social media channels
- Sensitive resources
- Shadow IT
- Cloud platforms
2. Identify all Possible Exploit Methods
Once all critical assets are identified, every exploit scenario for each asser should be outlined. This will help you forsee all risk so that exposed assets can be best protected.
If you're having trouble creating exploit scenarios, start with a defence framework such as MITRE ATT&CK and work backwards to discover threat possibilities through the strategies that mitigate them.
3. Monitor Unauthorized Access Attempts
All exposed assets should be monitored for any unauthorised acees attempts.
Unauthorised access could stem from:
- Social media channels
- Git repositories
- Criminal forums on the dark web
- File sharing services
- Public documents
The strategic placement of honeytokens throughout an ecosystem will help uncover all resource access attempts.
4. Reduce Attack Surface
The attack surface should always be kept minimal. perform an audit of internal assets exposed to the external landscape (step 1) and remove all necessary cloud solutions.
An audit of the third-party landscape is more complex and requires a vendor attack surface monitoring solution capable of discovered current and historical vendor relationships.
5. Control all Network Access
institute strict policies to control access to all resources. Though external-facing resources should be preferences, all sensitive data housing resources should be guarded from unauthorised access.
Access control can be achieve through the implementation of a Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA).
6. Continuously Monitor all Assets
To keep vulnerable assets protected, they need to be continuously monitored for breach attempts. A data leak monitoring solution is one of the methods of protecting assets because they detect and remove exposures that could attract cyberattackers.
In addition to this, a threat intelligence solution should be implemented to monitor the internal and external ecosystems for vulnerabitlies.
WIth these two engines working in parallel - threat intelligence and data leak monitoring, all exposed assets are protected by two layers of defence:
- Data leaks are detected and remediated before they develop into data breaches
- All vulnerabilities are continuously strengthened to protect critical assets in the event of a data breach attempt.
Digital Risk Protection (DRP) by UpGuard
UpGuard combines a threat intelligence platform with a data leak detection engine to create a digital risk protection solution focused on mitigating the most critical categories of digital risk - cybersecurity and data leaks.
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