It seems impossible for business leaders and board members to ignore the forewarning headlines of future disastrous consequences of a cyber attack and an army of cybersecurity experts lining up to offer their services.
But, attacks and breaches keep occurring. What’s worse, cybercriminals often target the most obvious or basic vectors and vulnerabilities. There are many well known companies that have fallen fowl to attack and there seems to be no end in sight, these activities will continue to occur.
Establishing and managing a strong security posture is critical. Enterprises must know where risks are, address everything feasible and constantly monitor for changes.
The first stage in crafting a successful cybersecurity strategy is to ensure full buy-in across an organisation, which is as much about awareness as it is agreement. There will be business and technical implications to establishing or updating security strategy. Cybersecurity needs to be understood across the business so that it is seen as a business enabler and competitive advantage for the company, as opposed to an inhibitor. Leaving key decision makers out risks slowing adoption. User training is also a very important element of improving the security infastructure as they are often the weak link in the chain
Consider using outside resources to support designing a security strategy, which is becoming an increasingly popular option. It’s not necessary to outsource all of you cyber security needs, as a certain amount of control and monitoring in-house is essential. However, a security consultant’s skills and knowledge provide critical expertise and experience, as their familiarity with a range of organisational security needs and challenges can be of great benefit.
The next step in defining an organisation’s security strategy is actually to take a step back and sit down with group leaders to understand what they do on a daily basis, including which systems are used, where and what data is stored and which third parties and supply chains interact with the business.
Ideally, a full software audit needs to be completed. At minimum, enterprises need to gain a view of exactly what is in use, who uses it and how regularly it’s updated. This can be arduous and expensive, but remember that many breaches happen because of basic security missteps. This stage is very much worth the investment to ensure the right security strategy is designed for an organisation.
It is worth keeping in mind that although IT has a list of software in use, it will not always give you the whole picture. It is very common for departments to have software purchased and managed outside of the IT remit. These tools are known as shadow IT and run under the radar of normal business. To achieve a successful security strategy, these rogue elements must be identified, audited and brought under the remit of the internal IT team.
After starting to implement the organisational strategy it will become clear what needs to be protected, updated or retired. There will inevitably be changes to how business and processes occur, which employees will need to adapt to which is not always easy and IT teams will likely experience an increase in calls to the support desk. Despite temporary inconveniences, the security strategy management should become a regular and ongoing process with regular audits of software, devices and risks, once complete. Without this ongoing component, all the hard work will lose value. Additionally, should there be a breach, the amount of work required to understand and remediate the incident will increase significantly.
Consider ongoing user-education, as part of the security strategy. Much of a security strategy depends on employees, so it’s worth creating a security training program to educate users on strong passwords, how to identify fake websites and information on spotting phishing/spear-phishing emails early.
Creating and maintaining a successful security strategy is not an easy task, but with the right in-house approach combined with external resources, it does not have to be a negative experience. In fact, with safer access to data and better educated users, the end result should be a stronger business that is ready for any future challenges. This will often lead to a competitive advantage as well, if your competitors are not prepared to implement a strong and active security strategy then they are far more vulnerable than you.