Holistic Cybersecurity for Service Providers

Published October 16, 2023
by Dave Stenger

Today’s advanced digital era opens exciting new possibilities for businesses to collaborate, expand their capabilities, and reach new customers. At the same time, with expanded capabilities comes the potential for more attack vectors and routes for a cyberattack. As cloud-managed services and multi-cloud strategies evolve, service providers must remain steadfastly committed to creating and implementing a holistic, comprehensive approach to their cybersecurity.

What is a Holistic Approach to Cybersecurity?

Though universal and unrelated to any specific industry, the term “holistic” is commonly associated with healthcare. Holistic medicine is a healthcare approach that addresses the psychological, familial, societal, ethical, and spiritual aspects of an individual, not just the biological. 

In the context of a company’s critical operations, holistic security is an approach intended to integrate all available elements and resources for safeguarding the organization into one interconnected system. Holistic cybersecurity incorporates all infrastructure, technology, personnel, and processes for a final product of protection greater than the sum of its parts.

By addressing cybersecurity from multiple angles and integrating various practices into their operations, cloud service providers can provide a safer and more reliable cloud computing environment that helps build trust and credibility in their offerings while helping customers’ companies reach new heights. 

Holistic cybersecurity considers how every element of a security system’s constituent parts interrelate and work together within the context of the overall system. Integrating different levels and types of security enables a more comprehensive understanding of an organization’s vulnerabilities and more robust protection against various cybersecurity threats. Holistic cloud-based security solutions can help businesses of all sizes effectively and efficiently enhance their cybersecurity posture.  

The Three Key Pillars of Holistic Cybersecurity

Holistic cybersecurity revolves around three key pillars that collectively ensure comprehensive protection and resilience across an organization’s digital landscape.

Technology

In light of evolving and advancing cybersecurity threats, there’s no shortage of security tools and solutions to help keep entire IT environments secure. Implementing a combination of security measures helps deter cyber threats with a multi-layered defense to secure hardware, software, networks, and data. The technology piece of cybersecurity includes:

  • Access Controls and Authentication: Implementing strong identity and access management controls, including multi-factor authentication (MFA) and role-based access control (RBAC).
  • Encryption: Ensuring data protection through encryption mechanisms, both in transit and at rest, to prevent unauthorized access or data leaks.
  • Firewalls and Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems: Deploying firewalls and intrusion detection/prevention systems to monitor and defend against unauthorized access and malicious activities.
  • Vulnerability Management: Regularly scanning and patching systems to address known vulnerabilities and protect against potential exploits.
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM): Utilizing SIEM tools to collect, analyze, and correlate security-related data from various sources for real-time threat detection and response.

While cybersecurity technology should be multi-layered and robust, it must also remain manageable. Adding more security tools in response to growing threats is a common approach, but it can become overwhelming to work with multiple tools. Consider consulting a vetted cybersecurity consultant to help make sure you have the right technology for your organizational needs.

People

Despite all of the industry’s cutting-edge technology and advanced frameworks, cybersecurity is still a human-centric field. Humans plan and execute cyberattacks, and most attacks, scams, or breach attempts target people to gain network infrastructure access. Human error remains the leading cause of data breaches and cybersecurity incidents from insider threats. It’s critical that personnel at every level of an organization, even those in non-technical-facing roles, receive some cybersecurity education and training. It doesn’t require advanced technical skills to understand cybersecurity basics such as keeping devices secure, safe browsing habits, and spotting social engineering attempts or phishing scams—all of which contribute to creating a more cybersecurity-aware workforce and company culture.

While ongoing employee education and training is an integral part of personnel management regarding cybersecurity, organizations can also use several concepts and principles to help keep their people from maliciously or unintentionally causing harm and maintain a secure environment.

  • The Principle of Least Privilege: Part of an organization’s access control efforts, the principle of least privilege maintains that individuals should only be given the absolute bare minimum access to company networks and systems needed to perform their primary job functions. It’s unlikely that an analyst in engineering will need access to update payroll data, for example, while an employee with privileges to install new software onto a company device could end up introducing harmful malware. By limiting the privileges of users and processes, the potential attack surface—or the number of entry points for attackers—is significantly reduced. 
  • Segregation of Duties: The separation and segregation of duties can help ensure regulation compliance and help prevent fraud or abuse. Under this principle, no user should be granted all the privileges necessary to carry out critical business functions alone. Stringent segregation-of-duties requirements prevent conflicts of interest and reduce the risk of errors, fraud, or other misconduct by ensuring no individual has complete control over essential business processes or transactions, putting checks and balances in place to deter unauthorized or inappropriate actions.
  • Two-Person Integrity (Two-Person Rule): Also referred to as dual-control security, two-person integrity is a security principle that requires at least two or more individuals to be present and actively engaged in order to carry out and complete a specific task or transaction. While two-person integrity can enhance security, it might not be feasible or necessary for all tasks. Organizations must balance security requirements with operational efficiency and usability to determine where the principle is most applicable.

      Processes

      The best technology solutions and the right people in place overseeing them are ultimately only effective if they’re working together and following processes, frameworks, and procedures to effectively manage risk, prevent cyberattacks, and respond to any incidents. 

      Adequate policies and procedures must be in place to provide proper guidance and direction for appropriate action and informed decision-making. Defining and reiterating the key roles, activities, documentation, and support systems needed to mitigate and recover from cybersecurity risks is important. 

      From regular risk vulnerability assessments, continuous monitoring, and threat detection through proactive incident-response planning and exercises such as penetration testing, it’s vital that established and implemented processes are understood and able to be followed by everyone in the organization. 

      Honing Your Holistic Approach

      The history of cybersecurity has largely been reactive, with organizations more often struggling to keep up with emerging threats introduced by new technologies and cyberattack strategies. Like cogs in a machine, the private sector’s cybersecurity posture is strongest when organizations work together, sharing experiences and best practices. 

      You can discover the perfect partners for fulfilling your holistic cybersecurity goals within the RAMPxchange marketplace. Reach out to learn more and join our coalition of cyber defenders and security-minded professionals who can help keep your organization holistically protected.