Tips for Staying Secure on a Budget

Securing IT Infrastructure is vital in the modern workplace, but establishing an in-house SecOps team is expensive and it takes time to get the right people on board. The very best security professionals are in high demand and paid some of the highest salaries in the industry, but big savings are possible by utilizing high-quality open-source cybersecurity tools instead of paying extensive, recurring subscription fees for off the shelf products.

Kali Linux, the open-source Operating System, is available as an ISO, or a VM image, and it is prepackaged with more or less every security tool you will need. Kali is great for securing your internal infrastructure, testing user password complexity, scanning for application vulnerabilities, social engineering, network sniffing, information gathering, vulnerability analysis, forensics, and pen-testing.

Kali Linux is based on the popular Debian Linux distribution, Linux Administrators will figure out the platform quickly and there is extensive support information available in the manual pages or online. A few of the most popular security tools found in Kali are; Nessus, a scanning tool that looks for security vulnerabilities, it works against almost every operating system found in a data center and has great reporting features for servers or applications that are running out-of-date software revisions, or missing critical security updates.

Another tool is Wireshark, a packet analyzer that is great at scanning network traffic. It’s very useful at detecting blocked (or open) ports between subnets and can be used to intercept unencrypted network traffic. Hydra is a brute force remote authentication cracker, it is designed to find weak passwords on your infrastructure. Finally, Nmap is another fantastic open-source utility to sniff a network and identify hosts, servers, mobiles, etc. It looks for services, operating system versions, IPs, and many other bits of information.

You don’t have to use Kali Linux for these great tools, they are available on any other Linux distribution, and some are available on Microsoft Windows too. Kali bundles everything together and has about 600 other tools to use, security professionals, are likely to find it a lot easier to manage from a single instance.

As well as having all the right security tools, it is important to have business-wide policies and procedures in place that help create a security-conscious culture. Have you heard of the Open Web Application Security Project®? OWASP is a non-profit foundation that publishes (among many other things) software tools, guides, and best practices for securing your environment. 

Flagship OWASP projects provide industry-standard guidance around Mobile Security Testing, ModSecurity Core rule sets for Web Application Firewalls, and security models for application design. Each project encompasses the complete security lifecycle around business governance, the design, implementation, and verification of security solutions, and finally the day-to-day operations.

These industry standards are provided free-of-charge and the aim is to create a security framework for DevSecOps teams to implement, using it to create security policies for business processes, such as defining the requirements of User Access Control and Complex Password Management.

Staying secure on a budget requires much greater technology acumen, especially if being managed in-house. The applications are not for beginners and some require advanced skillsets to manage them correctly. If you have the skills in-house, that’s great, but many businesses may prefer to outsource.

Outsourcing this responsibility to a managed service provider will please auditors and security professionals. Hosting critical business infrastructure within a third-party data center will guarantee many of the security requirements needed. Look for the hosting provider’s compliance certifications, standards such as SSAE18, SOC, and ISO27000 ensure the best-in-class security, ethical, and confidentiality standards expected. 

Healthcare and Financial businesses should look for HIPAA, HITECH, or PCI Ready compliance certifications. This will provide guarantees around encryption, device management, server management, building security, access management, privileged groups, and authorized user permissions, to name just a few.

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