National Cyber Security Awareness Month: Proactive, Active, Reactive Measures

In this final week of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, let’s talk about proactive, active, and reactive measures. All cybersecurity-related functions fall into one of these categories and they are all necessary and important to a robust cybersecurity defense.

Proactive/Active Measures

Proactive measures are executed before there is a specific threat while active measures are ongoing activities. They can both help an organization avoid a cyberattack. Take automated backups and patches, for example. When you automatically backup your files, a safe copy of your data exists before you need it. When you patch your system regularly, vulnerabilities that may appeal to hackers are mitigated before they are exploited.

Multi-factor authentication is another example of a proactive or active measure. It requires a second piece of information to complete the login process. When multi-factor authentication is mandatory when logging in from outside the network, user accounts are protected from brute force attacks, password spraying, credential stuffing, or other password-related attacks.

Simulated attacks can help your users learn to recognize and appropriately react to common cyber threats like phishing before they come across a real phishing scam. These activities are extremely important to a healthy cyber defense, but can often be overlooked for more immediate priorities in the workplace.

Reactive Measures

Reactive measures are implemented after a successful cyberattack. A reactive measure is a panicked phone call to the first cyber forensic investigation company that pops up in a web search. It’s hurriedly taking systems offline to mitigate the damage from an attack.

If you are taking proactive and active measures to keep your network safe, you are probably already thinking about those reactive measures just in case. It may be the name of a trusted cyber forensic investigation service on speed dial or prepared paper forms in case of a ransomware attack so that business operations can continue. A strong cyber security defense includes proactive, active, and reactive measures. When we mitigate threats ahead of time through proactive and active measures, we can keep reactive measures, which can be damaging to business operations and reputations, to a minimum.

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