Josue Ledesma, July 2023

Why CISOs Should Prioritize Storage Security      

Environments have changed dramatically in the last 10 years and these changes have accelerated even quicker since the pandemic. A company’s operations are no longer confined to the four walls of an office. Instead, they’ve expanded into the cloud, span across remote workstations, and are often a hybrid of on-premise and off-site systems. At the center of these operations lies data, and with it, the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) has a responsibility to properly secure the storage systems that house this data. 

But, this responsibility is becoming more and more of a challenge. Cybercriminals relentlessly search for weak links, deploying sophisticated tactics to disrupt business continuity and compromise sensitive information. Coupled with the increasing regulatory scrutiny around data management and security, it’s clear why companies need to prioritize cybersecurity.

This is largely why CISOs’ top challenges include evolving compliance requirements, internal leaks, and rapid software development. As the data footprint of a company broadens, the storage systems housing this data need to be properly secured. Otherwise, they may face major issues such as data breaches, regulatory penalties, and tarnished reputations.

How can CISOs properly manage and engage in information security risk management and storage security? In this article, we’ll show you why storage security needs to be a high priority and what best practices you should take into account.

Why is Storage Security Important?

Storage security has moved beyond being a mere option to an absolute necessity. Here’s a breakdown of a few key reasons:

The Risks of Neglecting Storage Security

Ignoring storage security can lead to a host of problems for organizations. Without the proper security or configuration may lead to unauthorized access to sensitive data, resulting in data theft, manipulation, or loss. It can also disrupt a company’s business operations due to unintended downtime which can have downstream effects on website availability or order fulfillment, for example.

Even accidental neglect can result in unintended exposure of sensitive data. Depending on the nature of the security incident or compromise, this could have wide-reaching implications, including hefty non-compliance fines, loss of customer trust, or even competitive disadvantage due to intellectual property theft.

The Threats to Storage Security

Malicious actors know that many organizations are lacking the right storage security and going after them with a variety of threats and tactics. This includes attacks such as:

Insider threats: This can come from disgruntled employees, compromised employees, or former employees that have access to sensitive data or can provide a malicious actor with the information needed to compromise a company.

Ransomware: Ransomware attacks continue to be at an all-time high, with crypto payments reaching nearly $500M just in the first half of 2023, up $175.8M compared to last year. These attacks can lock an organization out of their files, severely disrupting business operations and leading to potential downtime unless a ransom is paid.

APT (advanced persistent threats) attacks: These are long-term attacks that can be initiated via a database compromise. An attacker finds their way in undetected, lays the foundation to stay within an organization long-term, and creates backdoors, exfiltrates data, or spies on a company, with potentially devastating results.

Significant consequences, like downtime and reputational damage, can arise from these attacks, which is why a CISO needs to ensure that storage security is part of the overall cybersecurity strategy. This includes protecting against these common attacks and also having a strategy in place that secures data at rest, in transit, and during use. This isn’t just sound cybersecurity practice but will keep your organization in compliance with regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, and CCPA.

Best Practices for Storage Security

For CISOs, effective management of storage security should go beyond a tactical level and include an organizational and strategic perspective. This includes adopting a multi-layered security approach to address the various threats to storage security such as endpoint security, network security, and robust backups for downtime prevention. Implementing tactical measures, such as enforcing the principle of least privilege (PoLP), engaging in regular audits, and penetration testing, can also identify vulnerabilities and gaps in the security posture, as well as training staff to mitigate the risk of insider threats.

Overall, as you work to develop and implement your storage security strategy, prioritize the following:

Maintaining complete visibility: Having complete visibility and tracking of all your data is a necessary first step. This includes understanding where your data is stored, how it’s used, who has access to it, and what vulnerabilities may exist in your storage infrastructure. Data classification can play a pivotal role here, helping you identify which data is sensitive and needs to be protected the most.

Choose the right tools: Tools that empower and set your cybersecurity team up for success is the goal when choosing effective solutions. We go over a few key tools that can help later in this article but in general, it’s important to find the right tools that will improve productivity, rather than overwhelm your department.

Involve key stakeholders: Effective storage security is a cross-functional effort so make sure you’re involving key stakeholders from different departments, like developers, legal, HR, and operations. This will help you identify potential challenges with implementation while maintaining strong relationships that will help enforce your policies and processes.

Adopt a multi-layered approach: Effective storage security doesn’t stop at prevention. Consider it in its full spectrum – from detection and monitoring to response and recovery and work from there. This will help guide you to finding the right tools and prioritizing the right systems to plug in any identified gaps.

How Organizations Can Have Stronger Storage Security

Implementing robust storage security requires a combination of the right tools, policies, and processes to address internal risks, external threats, and enforce the right behaviors. However, it’s important to overcome some common challenges and avoid pitfalls.

Tools for Storage Security

Effective tools that a CISO can look to leverage include firewalls and intrusion detection systems (IDS) that help protect the network perimeter. Data encryption tools can add an extra layer of security to data at rest and in transit while identity and access management (IAM) tools control who has access to what data.

For more robust cybersecurity teams, security information and event management (SIEM) tools provide real-time analysis of security alerts generated by applications and network hardware which can give insight on any unwanted users or anomalous activity which may be an indicator of a compromise.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls and Overcoming Storage Security Challenges

Your storage security is a continuous process — implementing a strategy once and never revisiting it is an easy way to succumb to new attacks and leave new areas of your organization unsecured. Avoid complacency and have a process that will reassess your current strategy.

Why a Fourth Layer of Protection is Key for Effective Storage Security

CISOs need to address a multitude of threats and risks while ensuring their decisions are making positive impacts on the organization. However, implementing effective storage security can be challenging. It involves managing complex and dispersed storage systems, monitoring for a wide range of threats, and complying with an ever-growing list of regulations. By embracing a more holistic and comprehensive way of properly securing your storage systems, you may find the challenge a bit simpler.

This fourth layer of protection is dedicated storage system security via real-time visibility and protection that adds a vital layer to your storage security strategy. By prioritizing a real-time monitoring, alerting, and remediation tool, you can have granular visibility into your network file activity and swiftly identify and respond to insider threats, ransomware attacks, and unusual data access or movement.

CryptoSpike is that Extra Layer of Protection

When looking for tools that specifically deal with storage security, due diligence will help spot key tools that will lead to robust security and align with your organization’s unique needs and architecture. Solutions like ProLion’s CryptoSpike specifically address the needs of storage system security, providing real-time protection for your network file storage and protecting against ransomware, which is one of the more threatening attacks storage systems face.

This helps you go beyond traditional endpoint detection and network detection, and instead provides a dedicated shield for your data storage systems. Incorporating this approach helps in establishing a more resilient and proactive security stance, effectively addressing the threat landscape of today. It can also future-proof your organization, safeguarding your business operations and data, even as your organization scales.

As CISOs further develop their overall cybersecurity strategy, they should take the time to focus specifically on storage system security with the same diligence as networks and endpoints.

Properly Investing in Storage Security is a Necessity

Ultimately, the role of a CISO needs to focus on planning and implementing measures to prevent an issue while also having an incident response strategy in place to prevent further damage. Effective storage security forms a critical part of this comprehensive approach.

If you’re looking to understand how your organization can benefit from enhanced storage security, we recommend reaching out to us to schedule a quick demo of CryptoSpike. Email [email protected] to learn more!

About ProLion

ProLion offers powerful data protection solutions that safeguard critical storage and backup data, on-premises or in the cloud. From ransomware protection that detects threats in real time to data transparency, our industry-leading solutions ensure your storage system remains secure, compliant, manageable, and accessible around the clock.