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Find Out How OPSEC Can Protect Your Business

CodeHunter | 5 OPSEC Military Tactics You Should Adopt for Cybersecurity


The military has a vested interest in keeping information secure — and their strategies are worth adopting for private cybersecurity. OPSEC (Operations Security) is a security and risk management strategy that determines what’s required to protect sensitive information — and prevent it from getting into the wrong hands. Think of it as the practice of keeping seemingly innocuous (but potentially compromising) information from the enemy — “Loose lips sinks ships,” according to the classic WWII adage.

From end-to-end security to employee education, OPSEC strategies have proven invaluable to organizations outside of the military. OPSEC tactics can strengthen your cybersecurity framework — and protect you from emerging threats

The Five Steps

Examining your organization from an attacker’s vantage and shoring up defenses accordingly isn’t being paranoid — it’s being prepared. Follow the five-step OPSEC process identified by the U.S. Military to safeguard your sensitive data, operations, and systems:

1. Identify Critical Information

From PII and employee information to intellectual property and product research, your organization’s sensitive data must be identified — even if it's seemingly benign. In the wrong hands it could be weaponized.

2. Analyze Threats

Identify your main adversaries. Think critically — and broadly — about those with intentions contrary to your own, including competitors, hackers, insider threats, and foreign governments.

3. Analyze Vulnerabilities

In other words, role play! Enable your security team to embody your adversaries and run a complete audit of your infrastructure. It’s time for cyber war games {Read More: Why Executives Should Play Cyber War Games]

4. Assess Risk

Risk = Probability x Impact. Consider existing vulnerabilities and assess the impact or damage of critical information being leaked.

5. Apply Countermeasures

Make a plan to protect sensitive data — including Zero Trust strategies (more on that below), cybersecurity solutions, and employee education.

OPSEC Best Practices: Trust Nobody  

Once you’ve identified critical information, threats, vulnerabilities, and risk, follow both OPSEC and Zero Trust best practices to make a plan and achieve maximum security. Zero Trust is a cybersecurity framework with clear strategies based on the premise of, “Never trust, always verify.” In other words, trust nobody. Both methods prevent sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands — and reduce harm if disaster strikes.

Consider the following when making your plan:

Always Verify Identity

Adopt solutions to authenticate and authorize before granting access. While one-time passwords have been most commonly used to verify identity, two-factor and multi-factor authentication have been added as safeguards — and there are still gaps in these methods. We anticipate a widespread move toward artificial intelligence and machine learning and to improve identity verification.

Implement Least-Privileged Access

Restrict administrative permissions and access to sensitive data. Limit access solely to those who need it to do their job. Just because they’ve “always had access” doesn’t mean they should.

Validate Devices and Connections

Check and enforce the health of each device; deny all connections unless they meet specific requirements (location, health, patch level, etc.); and create alternative access pathways for unmanaged devices.  

Facilitate Employee Awareness

Instill a Zero Trust mentality in your employees, as well as your contractors and consultants, and teach them about cybersecurity best practices. Develop an organization-wide awareness about the seemingly harmless and mostly unintentional ways sensitive information is leaked.

Run Data Security Analytics and Real-Time Monitoring

Use automation to inspect, monitor, and log all activities — and be notified immediately in the event of unusual behavior. 

Create A Disaster Response Plan

Know how to respond in the event of an attack.

Maintain Backup Architecture

In case of an attack, you’ll be ready with proper backup.

Takeaways: The 3 Military OPSEC Hacks You Should Start Right Now

1. Think Like The Enemy

Military OPSEC is a detailed, multifaceted strategy that leaves no stone unturned — because seemingly harmless information in the hands of the enemy can lead to catastrophic outcomes. Think like the enemy and audit your organization with meticulous detail like your safety depends on it.

2. Train Your People

A military unit trains all soldiers on OPSEC, regardless of their rank. The strategy focuses on educating military personnel and their families about seemingly harmless ways they can reveal information about military operations — including social media posts, phone calls in public, and this notable Strava OPSEC fail. Your organization’s cybersecurity is only as strong as your weakest link. Consider all employees and third-party resources as you make your OPSEC plan. Instill an OPSEC mentality to prevent unintentional insider threats [Read More: “Insider Threats: Data Is Leaking From Within Your Own Walls].

3. Find Proactive Solutions

Military OPSEC is a proactive approach to security that considers all possible threats, known and unknown. It’s time for private organizations to follow the military’s lead: Use proactive cybersecurity solutions like CodeHunter Pro to find suspicious behaviors and potentially dangerous code that’s hiding and waiting to strike.

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