Defensive Vs. Offensive Cybersecurity: What’s Best for Your Organization?

J.R. Hernandez
Security Services Manager

Undoubtably, you and your organization have been prioritizing a defensive security posture for the last many years. Hardening security parameters, adopting more advanced firewall protocols, employee awareness training… the industry standard approach has been to build up walls to keep bad actors out. But we’re living in a world where the cyber threats just won’t stop. It’s estimated that 2,200 cyberattacks are happening to businesses daily and the first half of 2021 saw a 102% increase in ransomware attacks compared to the beginning of 2020. Businesses of all sizes need an all-encompassing approach, employing both the top offensive cybersecurity and defensive cybersecurity services available.

What is Offensive Cybersecurity?

One of today’s most common offensive cybersecurity strategies, commonly referred to as penetration testing, is a form of ethical hacking that aims to uncover vulnerability points in an organization’s security parameter by staging simulated cyber-attacks on itself. The intent of these penetration tests is to only identify potential vulnerabilities in a security architecture and remediate these vulnerabilities before a malicious entity finds them.

In other words, this simulated cybersecurity strategy tries to identify and stifle enemy entry points before they even get the chance to initiate an attack.

What is Defensive Cybersecurity?

Unlike offensive cybersecurity, its counterpart defensive cybersecurity is more of a “sit back and block” form of security. More specifically, the term defensive cybersecurity refers to a security approach that places an emphasis on detecting malicious activity, preventing attacks, and responding to cyber incidents in real-time. For this approach, security teams often use defense tools such as antivirus software and firewalls to aid in the prevention of cyber attacks.

Are Both Defensive & Offensive Cybersecurity Services Necessary?

With the rise of cybersecurity attacks exploding over the last few years, and the cost of data breaches skyrocketing to an astonishing $42.4 million in 2021, a single layer of security simply isn’t enough to keep your organization protected. Rather, to mitigate the risk of a cyber attack, it’s vital to adopt both a proactive defensive and offensive cybersecurity strategy.

By combining offensive and defensive security measures such as penetration testing, and a host of other proactive security measures such as intrusion prevention, data encryption, access control policies and penetration testing, an organization can greatly reduce the likelihood of sustaining a cyber attack.

Top Offensive Cybersecurity Services

To help establish a robust cybersecurity strategy, understanding what offensive cybersecurity measures may be most beneficial for your organization is crucial. Some of the top offensive cybersecurity services include:

  • Penetration Testing

A penetration test, or pentesting for short, is an ethical hacking tactic that is used to discover risks within an organization’s network. Penetration testers use a variety of tools and methods to identify potential gaps in security before bad actors have a chance to find them.  

  • Application Penetration Testing

Application penetration testing is the tactic used by security professionals to test security features within applications in order to mitigate potential security vulnerabilities that could lead to unauthorized access and tampering.

  • Cloud Security

Cloud security is a collection of policies, technologies, applications, tactics, and controls used to protect cloud-based data, applications, services, and the accompanying cloud computing infrastructure.

  • Vulnerability Scanning

Vulnerability scanning uses a variety of tools and tactics to search for known security risks and vulnerabilities within a network. Vulnerability scanning helps you identify and assess the risk associated with the vulnerabilities in your network. Vulnerability scanning helps you prioritize what security vulnerabilities to remediate.

  • Wireless Security Testing

This method of cybersecurity analysis provides organizations with detailed information on vulnerabilities related to their wireless networks. This technique addresses what networks exist, how strong their security is, as well as what devices are connected to these networks.

  • Social Engineering

Social engineering is a manipulation technique that exploits human interaction in order to access and steal private information, assets, and other valuables. In offensive cybersecurity, this technique is  used by ethical hackers as a means to detect and deter malicious actions.

Top Defensive Cybersecurity Services

To compliment your offensive cybersecurity strategies, let’s look at optimal defensive security measures. Some of the top defensive cybersecurity services include:

  • IT Security Management

In defensive cybersecurity, IT Security Management is the practice of protecting an organization’s information systems, network, and assets from internal and external cyber threats.

  • SOC Services

The Security Operations Center (SOC) serves as the team within an organization that is responsible for detecting, mitigating, and responding to cyber threats against the organization.  

  • Managed Detection & Response

Similar to SOC services, Managed Detection and Response (MDR) refers to the team of security professionals, usually located outside of an organization, that is responsible for threat detection and incident response to help prevent cyber attacks.  

  • Cloud Security

As alluded to prior, cloud security refers to the collection of policies, technologies, applications, tactics, and controls used to protect cloud-based data, applications, services, and the accompanying cloud computing infrastructure of an organization.

  • Remediation Support

In defensive cybersecurity, remediation support is used by an organization to address a breach that has already occurred and limit the amount of damage that results from the breach.

  • Firewalls

Perhaps the most tried-and-true defensive cybersecurity tactic is the integration of a firewall before your organization’s internal network. Firewalls serve as the first line of defense for your network by providing protection against external entities, making them one of the most effective ways to defend your organization from cyber attacks.  

  • Employee Training

Employee security awareness is vital to ensure the security of your organization. By training your employees on defense measures and keeping them aware on the latest phishing attacks , you are effectively shielding your organization from all types of data breaches.

  • Access Controls

Access controls can include anything from usernames to passwords and biometric scans, and are an integral component of controlling who has access to your organization’s systems and devices.  

What’s Next?

Bad actors are growing in size and sophistication and unfortunately no size business is safe from cybersecurity threats. Consequently, defensive-minded security strategies are no longer enough to contain these risks, leaving many organizations in dire need of new cybersecurity tactics that encompass both an offensive and defensive approach.  

Our primary mission is to help improve your company’s security posture wherever you are most vulnerable. From our proven managed penetration services that provide you with clear remediation steps, compliance direction and peace of mind, to our comprehensive advisory services, we’re here with the dedicated resources you need to secure your business. To learn more about our technical cybersecurity services, start here.

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