Traditional Antivirus & Next-Generation Antivirus

Traditional antivirus solutions have obvious limitations, especially in a world of constantly evolving threats. Thanks to the power of AI and machine learning, next-gen antivirus is a brilliant way to overcome these limitations.

Let’s find out what are the differences between the two.

Traditional Antivirus Software

The majority of antivirus (AV) or malware prevention solutions operate using huge databases of malware signatures as reference lists. Signature-based software is present in firewalls, email security platforms, and AV programs.

NOTE! Simply put, a signature is a unique set of data within the software that differentiates it from other software or viruses.

When a malicious file is downloaded to a device, a signature-based security solution will check that file’s identifying information against the database of malware signatures looking for a match. If there is a match to an existing threat or family of threats, the file will be blocked, prevented from executing its malicious action.

When new malware emerges and is documented by cybersecurity experts, its signature will be added to a specific database. Subsequently, AV software providers create and release a signature database update to ensure that the new threat can be detected and blocked. Sometimes, these updates are released several times per day.

Traditional AV Drawbacks

There is an average of 450,000 new instances of malware registered every single day. That’s a lot of signature database updates to keep up with.

While some AV vendors update their programs throughout the day, others release scheduled daily, weekly, or monthly software updates to keep the process simple for their users.

But convenience comes at the risk of real-time protection. Especially between update intervals, those AV programs are missing new malware signatures from their database, so they are completely unprotected against new or more advanced threats.

According to SentinelOne, we are trending towards cross-platform threats, and we should expect the availability of highly critical vulnerabilities such as log4j, which have exposed countless environments, to make even more headlines in 2022.

Sophisticated attackers have found ways around traditional AV defenses by hiding behind seemingly innocent actions, such as opening a file that contains a link to a malicious script.

Furthermore, how many users fail to keep their AV solutions secure due to the hassle of frequent updates? It’s easy to see updates as a low-priority inconvenience, and many users don’t realize the risk they take by not keeping their AV solutions updated.

Not only do signature-based solutions remain ineffective against zero-day threats, but efficacy decreases in the unfortunate case of user error.

Traditional AV solutions often provide a false sense of security to organizations that rely on them. According to CrowdStrike, a staggering 39% of malicious software goes undetected by traditional antivirus.

Next-Gen Antivirus Solutions

Like traditional antivirus software, the next gen antivirus (NGAV) also refers to a library of known threats, but unlike traditional antivirus protection, it can also identify threats on its own.

Today’s next-generation antivirus solutions use advanced technologies like behavior analysis, artificial intelligence, or machine learning to detect threats based on their intention rather than looking for a match to a known signature.

Next-gen AV can analyze the intentions of malicious files and determine when something is suspicious. According to CrowdStrike, these next-gen AV solutions are estimated to be about 99% effective against advanced threats, compared to signature-based solutions’ average of 60% efficacy.

In the case of zero-day vulnerabilities, the next-gen antivirus has the ability to learn on its own, being able to manage, detect, and respond to brand new threats that have not yet been recognized by the cybersecurity community.

This ability to detect and respond to new threats is what sets next gen antivirus protection apart from traditional forms of protection.

Besides recognizing unknown threats, next gen antivirus solutions can also roll the system back to a secure state, providing an extra layer of protection against malware and other similar threats.

Traditional antivirus software will only quarantine the threats, but the rollback process is manual. By automating the process, next gen antivirus solutions reduce the amount of time it takes to identify and respond to cyberattacks.

Organizations that rely entirely on signature-based detection should supplement or replace their detection capabilities with automated ML-based solutions that can prevent most types of malicious executable files.

Interested in making the jump from 60% to 99% effectiveness with a more dependable malware prevention solution, backed by expert security analysts? If yes, the StratusPointIT team is here and ready to help you overcome your IT security obstacles.

The CMMC Domains

As mentioned in a previous blog, the CMMC program refers to a set of cybersecurity requirements certain organizations must obey to protect controlled unclassified information that is shared by the Department of Defense with its contractors and subcontractors.

The extensive list of requirements, including those related to security awareness and training, are summarized below, grouped within 17 domains.

Access Control

This domain focuses on controlling who and what can access your systems, as well as who has remote system access, and on the limitations of their roles.

Asset Management

This domain requires organizations to locate, identify, and log inventory of their assets.

Audit & Accountability

This domain requires companies to have processes in place for tracking users who access Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) and to perform audits of those logs to ensure they are held accountable for their behavior.

Awareness & Training

This domain requires that you have training programs in place for your staff and conduct regular security awareness activities.

Configuration Management

This domain requires companies to establish configuration standards in order to determine how efficient the systems are. It is necessary to conduct audits to accurately measure the posture of your systems.

Identification & Authentication

This domain ensures the proper roles within your organization have the right level of access and are identifiable for reporting purposes.

Incident Response

For this domain, an Incident Response Plan is mandatory. Your organization needs to be able to detect and report security events, develop, and implement responses to incidents, perform post-incident assessments and test the response to measure your system’s readiness in the event of a cyber-attack.

Maintenance

This domain requires organizations to have maintenance solutions in place to keep their systems operational. As with all scenarios, sensitive data must be protected in these instances.

Media Protection

This domain highlights the risks associated with removable media, such as digital storage devices or paper, and how your organization can protect against such risks. For this domain, your organization will need to prove it has its media identified and appropriately marked for simplified access. Also, it is required to provide evidence of a media protection protocol, a sanitation protocol, etc.

Personnel Security

Your staff will have to be properly screened and have background checks run. Also, you will need to provide evidence that your CUI is protected even when members of your staff leave the organization or get transferred.

Physical Protection

Your organization needs to provide evidence of physical security surrounding its assets. As expected, cybersecurity measures aren’t adequate if unauthorized physical access to your equipment is allowed.

Recovery

This CMMC domain requires that you keep and log backups of media necessary to your organization. These need to be logged for restoring damaged systems and to mitigate the effects of a cyberattack.

Risk Management

This domain describes the ongoing need to anticipate risks to your data and systems and remediate them in a timely manner using regular risk assessments and vulnerability scanning.

Security Assessment

For security assessments, your organization will need to create and maintain a security plan, define and manage controls, and periodically analyze its defensive capabilities, improving them when possible.

Situational Awareness

This domain specifies how an organization must look for and handle cyber threats that arise from various sources. A threat monitoring system is required. This helps supplement other domains and keeps the organization secure in the unfortunate event of a cyber incident.

System and Communication Protection

This CMMC domain includes a list of safe communication practices. You will need to provide evidence your organization has control of its communications at system boundaries.

System and Information integrity

This domain requires your organization to identify and manage flaws within the system, identify vulnerabilities and malicious actions, implement email security solutions, and monitor the network to maintain the integrity of the system

StratusPointIT can provide expert assistance and recommendations. For more information, please feel free to reach out.

CMMC Compliance 2021

Who needs to comply?

By 2026, all contractors of the Department of Defense must comply with CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification) except commercial off-the-shelf software providers. This is mandatory for all subcontractors and every supplier the prime contractor works with across their entire supply chain.

Each contract will specify the CMMC level that each contractor must meet, so contractors on the same contract may have different CMMC requirements.

Differences Between CMMC & NIST 800-171

CMMC level 3 is based on NIST 800-171 compliance, which included the cybersecurity standards for Defense Industrial Base (DIB) contractors prior to CMMC.

Contractors must also meet all security controls in NIST SP 800-171 or provide a Plan of Actions and Milestones (POA&M) for compliance. A POA&M describes the specific measures that a DIB contractor will take to correct the deficiencies discovered during the security assessment.

NOTE! The shift from self-assessments to independent third-party assessments for cybersecurity compliance is one of the most important differences between NIST 800-171 and CMMC.

CMMC Third Party Assessment Organizations (C3PAOs) will now conduct these assessments.

CMMC adds 20 more new security requirements to Level 3 in addition to the 110 requirements already detailed in NIST 800-171. CMMC requires subjects to meet both sets of requirements for good cybersecurity practices.

CMMC and NIST SP 800-171 regulations will coexist until the Department of Defense completes the CMMC roll-out. The number of DoD contractors subject to CMMC will increase over the next few years, while the number of defense contractors requiring NIST SP 800-171 compliance will only decrease.

The CMMC Levels

The CMMC level that the Department of Defense requires of its contractors depends mostly on the sensitivity of the data these contractors will have access to.

CMMC Level 1

Level 1 requires companies to perform specified practices that focus on the protection of Federal Contract Information (FCI). So, level 1 only includes practices that meet the basic requirements as stipulated in 48 CFR 52.204-21.

CMMC Level 2

Level 2 practices are also known as intermediate cyber hygiene practices. They consist of a subcategory of the requirements specified by NIST SP 800-171. Level 2 practices focus on protecting controlled unclassified information (CUI).

NOTE! Controlled unclassified information is government owned information that requires protection consistent with applicable laws and regulations.

CMMC Level 3

Level 3 requires the organization to establish and maintain a plan to manage the activities needed to implement cybersecurity good practices. This plan can include information on a variety of specific topics, including goals, missions, projects, training, etc.

The cybersecurity practices at this level are considered good cyber hygiene practices and focus on the protection of CUI. Also, they include all security requirements that NIST SP 800-171 specifies, as well as other 20 security practices added specifically for CMMC level 3 to mitigate threats.

Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) clause 252.204 – 7012 adds few extra requirements, as for instance, how to report security incidents and strengthen the supply chain.

CMMC Level 4

Level 4 requires an organization to periodically review the effectiveness of its security practices. It also requires organizations to regularly inform upper management of the status of their information systems.

Level 4 practices are considered proactive and focus on the protection of CUI from advanced persistent threats (APTs). They also include a subset of other requirements from the draft of NIST SP 800-172 and other documents. These practices will only improve an organization’s ability to detect and respond to security threats.

CMMC Level 5

Level 5 certification implies that the contractor meets all level 1 – 4 requirements.

Level 5 requires 171 security controls and helps companies optimize their processes to ensure a standardized implementation across the entire organization. Practices at this level focus on CUI protection from advanced persistent threats. These advanced practices will increase the sophistication and depth of the organization’s cybersecurity capabilities.

CMMC 2.0

On November 4th, 2021, the Department of Defense announced “CMMC 2.0” to maintain the program’s goal of protecting sensitive data, while simplifying the CMMC standard and providing clarity on cybersecurity regulatory, policy, and contracting requirements. The standard will move forward with just 3 levels instead of 5 – foundational, advanced, and expert.

NOTE! CMMC 2.0 will allow all companies at Level 1 (Foundational) and a subset of companies at Level 2 (Advanced) to prove compliance through self-assessments similar to NIST 800-171 requirements. Level 3 (Expert) organizations will be assessed every three years by Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity Assessment Center (DIBAC) assessors.

CMMC 2.0

Under CMMC 2.0, the level 2 will be divided into Critical to National Security Information and Controlled Unclassified Information. Is not yet clear what companies can perform self-attestation and which ones require a C3PAO. The rulemaking process is still ongoing therefore, CMMC 2.0 will not be enforced right away. Organizations will be required to comply once the forthcoming rules go into effect.

StratusPointIT will provide your organization with guidance to achieve the necessary compliance level. Contact us today for more relevant information.

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The Vulnerability Management Lifecycle

The vulnerability management lifecycle is a cybersecurity process that strengthens an organization’s capacity to foresee and react to cyberattacks.

What Is A Cybersecurity Vulnerability?

As far as IT security is concerned, a vulnerability is a weakness or a limitation that enables an attacker to access a system. Three elements must be present for a vulnerability to become a threat.

A system weakness. This is a deficiency within the network or an app. Through this weakness, a hacker is able to inflict harm on a system.

Access to the weakness. A hacker can launch the attack by using a technique or a tool.

The ability to exploit the weakness. The actual damage is inflicted when the cyberattack is conducted.

When all these three factors exist, there is an exploitable vulnerability within the system. When neglected, it is like a time bomb that can cause tremendous damage in the unfortunate event of an attack.

The Pillars Of The Vulnerability Assessment Lifecycle

Vulnerability management is a complex process that takes several steps to succeed. It typically evolves with the growth of the network.

Here are the stages of the process:

Discovery

It is essential to do an inventory of all the existing assets within the network that will be regularly used in finding vulnerabilities.

After inventorying all the assets, rank their importance to the organization and determine who has access to these resources.

Locate the critical assets and double check the standards and policies for information protection. Therefore, you should assess the business processes, the applications and services, the network infrastructure map, the previous control systems, the information protection processes, etc. Update this consistently to get the full picture of vulnerabilities throughout your system.

Asset Prioritization

Locate the critical assets and classify them to ensure the effectiveness of the prioritization. Prioritize the assets that can generate the most significant risks.

It is essential to categorize these assets according to business units or groups depending on how important they are to business operations.

Assessment

Accomplish a proper assessment by creating a risk profile for each of your assets.

Vulnerability scans at operating system level, web server level, web application level, etc. must be performed at this phase. Prioritize the vulnerabilities, locate any wrong configuration, and pinpoint human error.

NOTE: Scanning and testing must be thorough and must include all organization assets.

Reporting

All gathered data must be compiled in a custom report that outlines the prioritized vulnerabilities. It should include step-by-step instructions that must be followed to decrease the security risk that may emerge from these vulnerabilities.

This will serve as recommendation on how to have a prompt and adequate response to any eventual problems.

NOTE: When reporting the vulnerabilities, classify them based on impact levels – low, medium, and high.

Remediation

Start troubleshooting with the riskiest vulnerabilities. Begin by monitoring them, address the issues causing the vulnerabilities and oversee the situation.

Sometimes, patching your software is enough to address a known vulnerability.

All the network devices must be regularly monitored to keep up with the evolving threats.

NOTE: Controls must be established to express progress. To avoid downtime, check the patches and configuration changes in a test environment before being deployed to production.

Verification

Once vulnerabilities have been identified and resolved, there must be regular follow-up audits to ensure they won’t happen again. Also, the success of the process must be reassessed.

Verification is crucial as it limits the exposure of your system to threats, reduces the attack surface, and minimizes the impact of cyberattacks.

Eventually, the verification stage is useful to check if the previous phases have been successfully implemented.

The Importance of the Vulnerability Management Lifecycle

More than ever, organizations rely on their networks and systems for conducting their daily operations, financial transactions, and reputational stability.

A chain is as strong as its weakest link, so a robust vulnerability management program along with a strong cybersecurity plan can protect your organization when the next attack occurs. Therefore, risk mitigation should be prompt and timely to avoid unnecessary expenses and reputational damage.

Regular Patches and Updates

As expected, routine checks for vulnerabilities will lead to frequent updates and patches.

Industry Regulations

Assessing the vulnerabilities will give more awareness about relevant industry regulations that organizations must comply with. It also creates a proactive strategy for risk mitigation.

Defense Against Advanced Threats

A regular vulnerability management program can provide a solid defense against advanced attacks, sealing the vulnerabilities before any exploitation happens.

The Value of Continuity

Consistency and continuity are essential to stay updated on all emerging threats.

Acting proactively is always better than constant remediation, saving resources before they are wasted on late responses.

The Advantage of Prioritization

Prioritizing the assets that can generate the most significant risks is key. This can be achieved by studying the guidelines carefully and clearly understand which vulnerabilities should be remediated first.

Trust the Experts

Unfortunately, threats are constantly evolving. It can be disastrous to leave it up to chance when cybersecurity is at stake.

Our team of experts can provide consistent intelligence towards data, software, applications, and networks to identify, investigate and respond to vulnerabilities.

StratusPointIT can provide expert assistance and recommendations in crafting policies, best practices, and specifications helping your team create a solid vulnerability management program that can withstand the harshest of cybersecurity threats.

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