How to implement proactive cyber-security

Effective cyber-defence today has to take the initiative, spotting and stopping attacks before they take hold. Here’s how to adopt a proactive stance.

How to implement proactive cyber-security

Effective cyber-defence today has to take the initiative, spotting and stopping attacks before they take hold. Here’s how to adopt a proactive stance.

Rodney Kinchington
Rodney KinchingtonRegional Managing Director APJC and MEA, Business

When your operating circumstances can change quickly, it’s wise to be prepared for anything - and this is particularly true for cyber-security.

So why do many organisations hold a reactive security posture, waiting for issues to appear before they act?

Potentially, this lag happens because making a reactive to proactive shift isn’t an overnight move – it’s a journey that requires planning, commitment and vision.

But the results are worth it. In a fast-paced and unknown environment, you’ll be able to predict where and when digital threats will emerge before they affect your organisation. You'll also be ready to defend against such threats and reduce their impact.

Six steps to a proactive security approach

To achieve a smooth, accelerated switch in security posture, break the process down into the following six stages:

1. Make a proactive stance a business issue

Winning support from the top of your organisation will accelerate your journey, and the fastest way to get board-level backing is to connect your plan to the quantifiable risks to the business.

2. Know what you’re dealing with - internally

Look at the assets you’re protecting, prioritise them according to how critical they are to your organisation, and examine their resilience. Get a thorough understanding of what’s connected to your network and the security risks it represents. Consider too, how incorporating the Internet of Things (IoT) or new technologies like SD-WAN might add vulnerabilities.

3. Know what you’re dealing with - externally

Work on creating a real-time, comprehensive understanding of your threat landscape so you can gather actionable threat intelligence. Ideally, you’ll enhance this evaluation with reports from leading analysts and insights from bodies like the National Vulnerability Database.

4. Make tactical investments in proactive defences

Explore security systems, tools, and services that can deliver enhanced threat monitoring, correlating multiple events in real-time so you can identify attacks early and respond accordingly. Security Information and Event Management  (SIEM) and Extended Detection and Response (XDR) solutions will play key roles in this.

5. Actively seek out your security weaknesses

Stay alert for potential indicators of compromise, and use attack simulations regularly to spot and tackle risk-causing vulnerabilities. Vulnerability scanning is not a one-time event. It’s an important, ongoing responsibility.

6. Close the loop

Use your experience to make your systems smarter and stronger. Track the results of any action and use what you learn to improve your system.

Stay safe by staying proactive

An effective starting point for your stance shift is choosing a market-leading method for quantifying risk in terms of business impact.

Safe Security’s cyber-risk quantification and management platform looks at your organisation’s risk across five areas:

  • people
  • process
  • technology
  • cyber-security products
  • supply chain.


It automatically collects information from your internal attack surfaces and combines it with external threat intelligence. A specialised algorithm then generates a score that summarises your organisation’s cyber-security health, likely financial loss – broken down by each attack vector, and a priority order of security actions.

With this knowledge base, you can take your company board with you as you transform your approach, and check the effects of further cyber-security decisions as you make them.

It can be the launch pad for a new, proactive strategy – as many of our global customers have discovered. Here’s just one example of a customer and what you too could achieve.

BT’s partnership with BW Group drives a better approach

BW Group, one of the world’s leading maritime groups, chose us to help them build a next-generation cyber-platform that would support their proactive security posture.

We took on their vision, supplied global insight on the best route to success, and brought together the technologies and services they needed to build a managed solution. This has freed up their in-house security teams to focus on wider tasks. They’re now confident that their business-critical systems are protected, no matter how quickly new cyber-threats emerge.

For a first-hand account of what the process was like, read our case study on BW Group’s security posture transformation.