Digitalisation has transformed how organisations operate, allowing them to significantly expand their reach and offer their products and services to more people than ever. Better still, digital tools like web and mobile apps, eCommerce platforms, and cloud-computing environments allow companies to become more efficient, enabling them to cuts costs, improve customer service, and invest in developing new offerings.
The downside of this digital transformation, however, is that companies create more digital assets that require protection and, subsequently, also generate more vulnerabilities that malicious actors could exploit. Worse still, with companies digitising data and workflows so rapidly, it’s increasingly challenging for them to keep track of digital assets and infrastructure – let alone secure them properly.
Fortunately, companies can now turn to one of the growing numbers of digital risk protection (DRP) solutions, which helps security teams better monitor, mitigate threats against, and maintain the cyber security posture of their external digital assets.
With this in mind, let’s explore the concept of digital risk protection and how it can help protect your company’s sensitive data, digital infrastructure, and reputation.
Understanding Digital Risk Protection (DRP)
Digital risk protection (DRP) refers to tools and techniques that help safeguard an organisation’s infrastructure, by determining the true extent of its digital footprint and better securing its external digital assets. Through the continuous monitoring of multiple channels on the open, deep, and dark web, DRP solutions help companies proactively discover and mitigate threats against their data, digital and physical assets, employees, and overall brand reputation.
A digital risk protection solution can be self-managed, which sees a company install digital risk protection software and undertake the required monitoring and mitigation of risk factors themselves. Alternatively, there are digital risk protection services, with which the company outsources the implementation of its DRP strategy to a third-party, managed service. In addition to automated tools, a DRP service will also use a team of analysts who manually scan a variety of data sources, such as social media applications, blog and forum posts, DNS records, and the deep and dark web for any and all risk factors linked to your company.
How do digital risk protection software and services work?
Now that we’ve covered the concept of digital risk protection, let’s turn our attention to how DRP platforms function.
1. Monitoring online presence and identifying digital risks
The first task of a DRP solution is to scan all available channels, or sources, for all mentions, content, and data related to the company. By continuously monitoring and, subsequently, updating its digital asset inventory, security teams can pinpoint potential risks and mitigate them accordingly.
2. Coverage across multiple digital channels
The next challenge digital risk protection seeks to solve is that of maintaining visibility over data and assets. To create as accurate picture of the company’s digital risk profile as possible, a DRP platform must draw from as many sources as possible, including:
- Search engines
- Online stores
- Blogs and forums
- Social media platforms
- Messaging applications
- Domain names
- Code repositories
Additionally, recognising that all of the above comprises the “open web” – which is only 10% of available data – digital risk protection also monitors the deep and dark web for your company’s digital assets. The deep web refers to the vast amount of information that’s not indexed by search engines, such as that behind paywalls or in user accounts.
Alternatively, the dark web is a hidden part of the internet only accessible through special browsers, e.g., the Tor browser. Monitoring the dark web for mentions about your company is a potent risk mitigation measure, as that’s where many cyber attacks originate.
3. Providing Real-Time Alerts
DRP platforms send security teams real-time alerts whenever a risk factor is identified. Through threat detection techniques like signature and content analysis, DRP software can identify indicators of compromise (IOCs) and indicators of attack (IOAs), which generate the appropriate alerts.
Better yet, some DRP solutions analyse the nature of the alert and the typical response from the security team and use machine learning techniques to prioritise alerts more accurately in the future. This ensures security personnel receive the most important alerts (and high-risk events aren’t lost in the shuffle due to “alert fatigue”) and only implement the most critical policies and controls.
4. Conducting automated and manual investigations
Digital risk protection software can be pre-configured to mitigate particular risk factors automatically, saving security teams considerable time and effort. Additionally, some DRP platforms offer guided mitigation, which improves through machine learning algorithms, which walk users through a recommended course of action based on historical data and organisational policy.
Alternatively, by comprehensively mapping digital infrastructure and providing insights into possible attack vectors, DRP solutions services enable security teams to investigate potential cyber threats manually.
5. Providing insights and intelligence for decision making
The visual analytic and reporting capabilities offered by DRP solutions allow the threat intelligence data it generates to be understood by management and other key stakeholders, as well as technical personnel.
Digital risk protection software utilises intuitive dashboards that allow security teams to monitor all discovered assets from a single, centralised platform. This also allows them to publish comprehensive reports that they can use to present important information on recent or potential cyber attacks and potential mitigation strategies. This can be an effective way of obtaining buy-in from management on cybersecurity initiatives – especially as it pertains to securing the necessary budget.
How does DRP fit into a larger cybersecurity strategy for organisations?
DRP can be a fundamental part of a company’s overall cybersecurity strategy, as it helps identify and catalogue digital assets and data which, in turn, allows for the discovery of IT security gaps. By revealing the true extent of an organisation’s risk profile, its security teams can construct more accurate risk models and develop more comprehensive mitigation strategies.
The advantages of implementing digital risk protection (DRP)
Here are some of the most important benefits of using digital risk protection services or software.
Mitigating cyber attacks
Security teams can’t secure digital assets that they don’t know exist. By increasing visibility over its digital footprint, a company determines the true extent of its attack surface – and can take the appropriate steps to reduce it.
More specifically, digital risk protection solutions mitigate cyber threats by:
- Blocking traffic and/or resources: by identifying the IP addresses of malicious actors, DRP solutions can block access to system resources to reduce the risk posed against them.
- Alerting security teams: by alerting security teams to risk factors, DRP software enables them to implement the necessary mitigation measures.
- The auto-mitigation of pre-configured risk factors: the DRP solution can be pre-configured to apply certain fixes automatically, e.g., changing permission rights, configuration settings, etc.
Ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements
DRP solutions can prove highly instrumental in helping companies ensure compliance with data privacy regulations because they help maintain an accurate data inventory. Again, if you aren’t aware of data’s existence, e.g. that a dataset has been copied for use in a shadow IT application, you can’t ensure its security in transit and rest – and aren’t compliant with various data privacy legislation.
By continuously monitoring your organisation’s entire digital ecosystem and its constant evolution, your security teams will remain aware of potential compliance risks and act accordingly.
Protecting your brand and reputation online
By constantly scanning multiple channels for mentions of your company, its products, employees, etc., DRP solutions allow you to better track and safeguard your brand’s online reputation. This helps to prevent:
- Phishing and scams: involving fraudulent emails or domains impersonating your company, fake advertisements;
- Copyright or trademark abuse: anti-counterfeit and anti-piracy – preventing the distribution of illegitimate versions of your products;
- Data leaks: discovering data in exposed locations – potential initial evidence of a data breach;
- VIP protection: impersonating top-level executives, exposing fake social media accounts, etc.
Additionally, by helping to mitigate cyber threats and enforce compliance, DRP solutions protect you from the reputation damage that accompanies a significant cyber attack or litigation and penalties for non-compliance.
Reducing costs associated with digital risks
By reducing your digital risk profile, DRP solutions also decrease the chances of incurring the costs that accompany those risks being realised. This includes:
- The cost of securing data breaches, including lost income from disruption to operations
- Lost revenue from piracy or counterfeiting
- Financial penalties and compensation due to non-compliance
- Lost business opportunities due to reputational damage
Better cybersecurity posture and resilience
Ultimately, by increasing awareness within your digital infrastructure and visibility over your assets and data, your security teams are more empowered to improve your company’s overall cybersecurity posture. Through continuous monitoring, organisations consistently develop their knowledge of the digital risks it faces, helping to build their resilience against current and emerging cyber threats.
How can organisations determine if they need DRP services?
If a company regularly suffers from data breaches, finds it challenging to achieve data privacy compliance, and struggles to maintain an inventory of digital assets, it could benefit significantly from digital risk protection services.
What are the benefits of outsourcing digital risk protection to a third-party provider?
The main benefit of outsourcing digital risk protection to an external company is that they’ll have more experience than an in-house team, allowing for cheaper and quicker mitigation of digital risks.
How RiskXchange can help implement your digital risk protection strategy
With our comprehensive cyber risk assessment, RiskXchange will help highlight your company’s most significant digital risks, their potential consequences, and what needs to be done to mitigate them. From there, we’ll help you implement the DRP solution that best suits your organisation, including the continuous monitoring tools that will allow you to track your cybersecurity posture.