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Jul 5 2022 | by Denlon John Dsouza

Can CISOs Get into The Head of Cyber Attackers?

Cyberattacks are now ubiquitous. A new study reveals that cybercriminals can penetrate 93% of enterprise networks. This shocking revelation only validates the point that enterprises are still not fully prepared to safeguard their networks and endpoints. Despite enterprises increasing their cybersecurity budgets by 51%, over 40% of CISOs admit they are unprepared for the rapidly changing cybersecurity threats. 

There could be many reasons - from cyber attackers using advanced technologies to enterprises having weak security policies or reactive approaches to the threats. 

The only way CISOs can save their enterprise from attacks is by getting into the heads of cyber attackers. They must think like cyber attackers and prepare for all kinds of vulnerabilities before they transpire.  

Why Should CISOs Get into The Head of Cyber Attackers? 
Think Like the Attacker 

As the movie dialogues go, you must think like a criminal to catch a criminal. In this context, CISOs have to think like cyber attackers. This is about being proactive and getting ahead of the plans of these malicious elements. That won’t be easy. Attackers use the latest technologies and have technical capabilities that help them find security gaps and exploit them.  

CISOs must either work with ethical hackers or think like attackers to find security gaps and plug them. They must revisit their security posture regularly and update them to stay protected from different kinds of attacks.  

More importantly, just like the attackers, CISOs should keep themselves updated on cybersecurity trends and invest in the latest technologies, such as AI-based cyber security tools, to safeguard the enterprise. They must know how different kinds of attacks take place and how to identify them to stay prepared.  

CISOs could also consider a wargame-like scenario where they could ask the team members to break into the system to understand the extent of vulnerabilities and find solutions to fix them.  

Identify Vulnerabilities 

Cyber attackers will look for vulnerabilities such as unpatched software or unprotected endpoint to get into the system and attack it. Marriott Hotels, for instance, experienced a data breach because of a compromise in their guest reservation system.  

Sometimes employees use readily available shadow cloud services, i.e., those not approved or assessed by the IT teams to complete their tasks. In fact, 56% of vulnerabilities are due to apps not being managed or owned by the IT teams.  

Cyber attackers look for such opportunities to attack systems and networks. Therefore, CISOs must ensure that the IT teams have the capabilities and tools to monitor and identify vulnerabilities across all networks and assets.  

For example, they must direct the teams to start the testing cycle by constantly and regularly monitoring the access points and firewalls and reviewing the authentication policies. The teams should check for attacks that could occur through employees’ computers, websites, email servers, etc.  

Once the vulnerabilities are identified, the teams must patch them and train employees and a temporary workforce to identify and report potential cyber-attacks. CISOs must establish a zero-trust policy and ensure that everybody complies with it across the enterprise. 

Use Advanced Technologies  

Cybercriminals are technically savvy. They have access to all sophisticated tools and technologies to help them exploit the enterprise’s vulnerabilities. Enterprises must think ahead and invest in advanced technologies to analyze data logs, detect suspicious activities or threats, and prevent them from attacking the systems.  

For example, tools like Darktrace use AI and ML to identify new activities that do not fall under the ambit of normal ones, spot serious vulnerabilities, and resolve them. It uses a loop approach with four parts - prevention, detection, response, and healing. From detecting an issue to resolving it and using the insights to improve the security posture, Darktrace helps enterprises handle complex cybersecurity threats effectively.  

Darktrace automates the process to scale up the security operations and monitor the activities continuously to flag any deviation on time. It leaves the security teams more time to look after more important activities that need human intervention. Besides, the solution identifies the potential attack paths that could put the enterprise at risk and ensures corrective measures are taken to mitigate the issue.  

Look at Security Holistically 

Security loopholes are not always from external sources. Several incidents take place internally due to weak security posture or the use of unauthorized tools. This is especially true when enterprises grow in size, more employees join, and processes get more complex.  

CISOs must take a holistic view of safeguarding the networks, devices, endpoints, and software to prevent attacks. They must take both inside-out and outside-in approaches to security. This means they must think from a hacker’s perspective and find vulnerabilities in external and internal sources.  

The outside-in approach involves looking at the systems as a bad external actor and identifying potential entry points to hack the systems. On the other hand, the inside-out approach involves assessing all codes, architecture, security posture, etc., from within to ensure there’s no scope for bad external actors to enter the system or network.  


Prevention and protection are crucial for safeguarding the enterprise’s networks, endpoints, and software. As enterprises invest in more technologies and increase the number of endpoints, they need to be more careful about security.  

CISOs are worried about how cyber threats are mutating in the real world. Even a simple chatbot that collects customers’ personal information can get exposed to vulnerabilities and result in a data breach.  

In that light, CISOs must partner with expert partners and learn to proactively use powerful tools like Darktrace to obtain early intelligence on cyber threats and take measures to stop them.  

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