The Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency’s Shields Up Program

In view of current events, the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has noted the increased likelihood of a cybersecurity breach. Their recommendations, listed below, speak mainly to the basics of cybersecurity:  foundational practices and technology that protect every enterprise, in both the public and private sector. Below are the key elements (full details are here Shields Up | CISA):

  1. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): If your company has not implemented MFA, now is a good time to start. If implementation is in progress but not complete, accelerating it is advisable.
  2. Disable Unneeded Ports: This is an old chestnut, but still viable.
  3. Increase Resiliency:
    1. Cyber Hygiene Services: If budgets are tight, you can use CISA's free cyber hygiene services Cyber Hygiene Services | CISA, including vulnerability scanning.
    2. CISA Cloud Controls: CISA has published an extensive set of cloud security controls, available here: Strengthening Security Configurations to Defend Against Attackers Targeting Cloud Services | CISA.
  4. Update Software SolarWinds notwithstanding, patched software is better than unpatched.
  5. Intrusion Detection: Ask the hard questions – are your staff able to detect intrusions quickly and accurately?
  6. Virus Protection and Signatures: The oldest and most venerable practice, but still necessary.
  7. Preparation for Intrusion:
    1. Conduct a tabletop exercise and include senior management.
    2. Designate a response team, and make sure they are available.
    3. Test backup and recovery systems.
    4. Test failover systems: CISA doesn’t specifically recommend this, but you’ll want to make sure failover systems really do work properly.

For Senior Management: CISA recommends the following to optimize your company’s cybersecurity posture:

  1. Empower CISOs: Make sure CISOs have the authority and staff to respond effectively to any intrusion.
  2. Lower Reporting Thresholds: Encourage all staff to be on the lookout for suspicious events, and to report them even if they are unsure if the event is truly a threat.
  3. Ensure Business Continuity: As outlined above, make sure failover systems are functioning, staff know how to respond and make sure data backups systems are in good working order.
  4. Plan for the Worst: It never hurts to anticipate the worst-case scenario and to plan accordingly.