Today’s latest news of the US government data breach is a prime example of why organizations must review their current, out-dated emphasis on breach prevention rather than detection.

The security world is preoccupied with the idea of stopping breaches – and yet the evidence reveals that this strategy is not working.  Modern IT environments don’t conform to Security Best Practices – lots of changes are being made, not always in the best interest of maintaining security and too much change ‘noise’ makes it harder than ever to spot unusual and unwanted activity. Even in a well-run and secure estate, breaches are still happening through phishing, zero-day malware, and insider attacks.

In this situation, as with many others, it was only by using intrusion detection techniques that the breach was spotted – by implication, the extensive cyber security defenses operated have been ineffective to prevent this hack.

While the breach detection alert may not have resulted in the attack being headed off completely, importantly, it will have lessened its potential impact. Ideally, internal systems would have also been hardened and protected from secondary attacks so that, even if network perimeter defenses are breached, data would still have been secured.

It is time to stop pretending that current security policies can stop any breach from working its way into key systems. It is time to find a new model that gives organizations – and all their stakeholders – a better way of responding to the continually evolving security threat.  And that has to be better breach detection capabilities. It is only by spotting the breach in time that an organization has any chance of effectively managing it. Fingers crossed that it will be stopped is just not good enough.


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