How Domain Monitoring Services Can Help Enhance Network Defense Strategies | By Jonathan Zhang

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How Domain Monitoring Services Can Help Enhance Network Defense Strategies

As cyber threats continue to advance with new techniques, tactics, and procedures (TTPs), organizations need to secure their network perimeters at all costs. Any business, regardless of size and industry, can suffer from the severe ramifications of cyberattacks. Data theft, loss of customer trust, and brand and reputation damage are just some of the common aftermaths of an attack. And all these can lead to staggering financial losses that affect a company’s bottom line. While the current average cost of cyberthreats stands at US$1.67 million, this amount can go higher if victims include productivity losses due to service disruption and the payment of fines and settlement fees.

The debilitating effects of cyber attacks should not be undermined but rather highlight the importance of proactively defending one’s network against all kinds of threats. Then again, how can enterprises improve their network defense strategies in the face of both known and unknown threats? Domain monitoring services may be able to help.

From Workarounds to a Proactive Stance Against Cyber Threats

A reactive approach to cybersecurity is no longer enough. Combating today’s advanced cyber threats requires a more proactive cyberdefense stance. To keep up with the latest TTPs and prevent becoming the next headline, here are some ways by which companies can boost their cybersecurity posture:

Enhance Access Security Control

Corporations must restrict user access, especially to critical components of their network. They must put policies and measures in place to make sure that only those whose jobs require access to critical systems can do so. They can, for instance, enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) on internal-only systems to maximize security. They can also encrypt data, so even if this gets stolen, they can’t be read by unauthorized personnel. All these activities minimize risks that attackers can get to them and disrupt operations.

Organizations must remember, though, that attackers can not only come from outside but also inside the network. They must be wary of insider threats, too. These include employees (former or current) who may have personal grievances against the company and so would like to get even. Some may have a dire need for money and so would be easily convinced by attackers to sell confidential information in exchange. Also, some unwitting employees are tricked into handing out proprietary information to threat actors through effective social engineering ploys.

Employing tools such as Domain Reputation API can also help as an additional layer of defense. It can be integrated into firewalls to run all domains associated with users through a reputation check. The tool reveals if a domain is tied to a phishing attack or known for spamming. The security solution can then instantly block users connected to disreputable domains from gaining access to network-connected systems.

Use Proactive Domain Monitoring Solutions

Part of protecting one’s network is making sure that no one abuses its domain for malicious activity. The more popular a brand is, however, the more likely it will end up playing an unwanted role in scams.

While experts recommend registering all misspelled variations of one’s domain so these can’t figure in attacks, that solution may be too costly for some organizations. An alternative would be to use tools such as Brand Monitor. It has a Typos feature that automatically generates domain look-alikes. When any of these figures in an attack, it will be easy for users to identify (using WHOIS Search or WHOIS History Search) and contact the domain’s owner or registrar to remedy the situation or provide leads to the authorities investigating the case.

Regularly Apply Patches

Vulnerabilities found in software and hardware are common attack entry points. Several companies typically delay patch application because it can cause outages and service disruption that may affect employee productivity. Although it seems inconvenient, it is an effective way to combat exploits that attackers typically use to infiltrate target networks. Using intrusion prevention systems (IPSs) or intrusion detection systems (IDSs) is also highly recommended.

But, if delays are unavoidable or IDS/IPS use is just out of a company’s budget reach, using Domain Reputation API may help. The tool reveals gaping holes and misconfigurations in a user’s domain infrastructure such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) vulnerabilities that the user can immediately attend to. Lessening the potential threat gateways into its network can at least prevent some attacks.

Train Employees About Security

Employees are always at risk of crafty social engineering tricks and, sadly, often fall for them. Organizations would do well then to raise their awareness of commonly used techniques or telltale signs of an email’s malicious nature. Tell them what to do when they see suspicious messages. But, should some still feel inadequate when it comes to spotting attacks or attempts at such, encourage them to rely on domain monitoring services.

Every network is unique, so look for the best solutions that fit your organization’s needs. Tools and domain monitoring services should not only look at the obvious but also potential blind spots. The best kind of security is one that aims to deal with possibilities instead of just managing effects after the fact.

About the Author

Jonathan Zhang is the founder and CEO of Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP)—a data, tool, and API provider that specializes in automated threat detection, security analysis, and threat intelligence solutions for Fortune 1000 and cybersecurity companies. TIP is part of the WhoisXML API family, a trusted intelligence vendor by over 50,000 clients.

February 4, 2020
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