The 3 Rs of Enterprise Security: Rotate, Repave, Repair

Modern enterprises are fraught with dangers and vulnerabilities that were rare even a decade ago. Cyber threats are becoming more frequent and sophisticated, and even the most secure organizations are falling victim to their attacks.

In this landscape, a proactive security stance is crucial. That is where the 3Rs of enterprise security — Rotate, Repave, and Repair — offer your organization a critical advantage. Read on to learn about the cybersecurity challenges enterprises face today, how the 3Rs can help, and a guide to implementing them in your organization.

Understanding today’s enterprise security landscape

Enterprises face unique challenges apart from smaller-sized businesses. Their growth and large presence make them an enticing target for cybercriminals. However, their internal issues also cause significant cybersecurity problems:

Resistance to change

Change is hard on an individual level, but for an enterprise, it’s far more challenging. Getting teams and leadership to adopt new strategies and practices requires breaking through inertia and getting buy-in on a large level. McKinsey experts estimate that close to 70% of change programs fail to meet their goals, mostly because of employee and management resistance. 

Change is often viewed as disruptive and risky, making it challenging for everyone to embrace new technology. This is especially true in cybersecurity. However, organizations resist cybersecurity change to their detriment. The traditional enterprise approach to security slows down the speed of change, leaving vulnerable systems.

Fear of a mega-breach

Large-scale breaches are no longer a rare occurrence. As cyberattacks become increasingly sophisticated and common, the fear of a mega-breach has grown. In the past few years, some of the most secure companies in the world have fallen victim to mega breaches:

These mega-breaches are not only expensive and time-consuming to clean up but often result in a PR nightmare. One survey found that 40% of security professionals globally were told to keep breaches quiet—this number increased to 71% among US-based professionals.

However, fear alone is not a productive response to increasing risk. It can lead to analysis paralysis, where it becomes overwhelming to the point of inaction. Your enterprise needs to translate fears into proactive measures to strengthen its cybersecurity infrastructure.

What are the 3Rs of security?

The 3Rs of enterprise security can directly address resistance to change and fear of a mega-breach. By adopting the 3Rs strategy, enterprises are able to:

  • Reduce resistance to change by making it a part of the ongoing security process 
  • Mitigate the fear of a mega-breach by consistently working to reduce the attack surface and vulnerability to threats.

Rotate: security through changing keys

The first “R” of enterprise security is Rotate. The principle of rotation is regularly changing and updating keys, passwords, and vital security credentials. It involves rotating SSH keys, API keys, database credentials, and any other kind of authentication token. Keys should be changed on a regular schedule, depending on the level of risk associated with the key.

Rotation is critical because it limits how time keys or credentials can be leveraged to gain access to the enterprise system. It’s not always possible to keep credentials from being leaked. Rotating them every few hours or minutes makes it more challenging for bad actors to get their hands on the most up-to-date credentials. Plus, it’s only useful for a limited time before becoming obsolete, mitigating some potential damage.

Rotation can also help you identify breaches. For example, if an old key that should no longer be in use tries to gain access again, it signals to the IT team that something is wrong.

Repave: constantly refreshing to stay secure

The second “R” of security is Repaving. 

Repaving is the practice of regularly rebuilding applications and services from a known, clean state. Repaving is about consistently starting anew, much like workers repaving roads to eliminate all the cracks and potholes.

Relying on patches and temporary fixes often results in a server or application that is vulnerable to attacks. Security breaches end up going undetected, and attackers can wreak havoc over time. Repaving minimizes this “dwell time” to avoid advanced persistent threats (APTs). You reduce the window for infections or intrusions to persist when frequently repaving the system.

If a system is compromised, repaving removes any changes an attacker makes, effectively cleaning out any malware or alterations. The more frequently your enterprise repaves, the less time a bad actor has to damage the system.

Repair: continuous improvement and updating

The last “R” of enterprise security is Repair. 

The longer a vulnerability stays in the system, the worse damage it will do. Systems, programs, or methods must be repaired as soon as any vulnerability is found. It will make your system more secure by repairing vulnerabilities and reducing attack surface areas. Repair addresses this by promptly applying patches, updates, or fixes to your software, systems, and libraries as soon as they are available. It’s about keeping your applications and systems secure by addressing all known vulnerabilities and bugs.

Most successful cyberattacks exploit known vulnerabilities that have patches available. Enterprises can prevent many potential security breaches by keeping applications, systems, and even third-party libraries up-to-date.

Integrating the 3 Rs into your security strategy

Implementing the 3 Rs into your enterprise security requires several strategic steps. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you make it a reality for your organization:

Understand your current state of security

Your first step is getting an in-depth understanding of your current security posture. Analyze and identify the systems, applications, and data you need to secure and understand the existing measures in place to protect them.

Identify areas to improve

Find the areas where the 3Rs can improve your current security posture. For example, identify which keys and credentials can be rotated or which servers need to be repaved.

Develop a strategy

Based on your current security posture and identified areas, create a plan to implement the 3Rs. This may mean investing in new tools or technologies or changing existing processes.

Implement the 3Rs

Develop a process for regularly rotating keys, using automation wherever possible. Monitor and log key usage to detect any anomalies. Likewise, automate the repaving process in the areas that require it regularly. Maintain a secure base image that is regularly updated with the latest security patches. 

Lastly, establish a robust patch management process. Prioritize patches based on the severity of potential vulnerabilities and test patches in a controlled environment before deploying them.

Train employees

The 3Rs are only as effective as the employees that leverage them. Ensure the IT team and all relevant staff members understand the importance of the 3Rs and are trained on the new processes.

Monitor and adjust

Once the 3Rs are implemented, continuously monitor the security posture and adjust strategies as needed. New threats may emerge, requiring changes to the rotation, repaving, or repair strategies.

Facing modern threats with the 3Rs

Traditional, reactive approaches to security are no longer enough as cyber threats evolve and become more sophisticated. The 3Rs of enterprise security — Rotate, Repave, and Repair — offer a dynamic and proactive framework to defend against these threats. Implementing these strategies will help your enterprise stay a step ahead of attackers, protecting your operations, reputation, and most importantly, your customers. 

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Kayly Lange
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Kayly Lange

Kayly Lange is a freelance writer. As a tech and SaaS specialist, she enjoys helping companies achieve greater reach and success through informative articles. When she’s not writing, she enjoys being out in nature, cooking, and reading a wide range of novels. You can connect with Kayly on LinkedIn.