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7 Factors That Guide Cybersecurity Strategy

If you don’t have a strategy that guides how your organization prevents and responds to cyber-attacks, you probably have gaps that are opening up the door to more risk than you can imagine. On the other hand, when you are strategic, you can be confident that what you’re doing isn’t just managing risk but actually lowering it.

Lower Cyber Risk by Being Strategic

How do you create a cybersecurity strategy that lowers cyber risk? The details are going to be specific to your company, but we’ll give you some talking points that should be included in your strategy discussions. Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

  1. The Overlap of Cybersecurity and IT Management
  2. Cybersecurity is a Dynamic Process
  3. A Cybersecurity Process is Built in Layers
  4. Cybersecurity Tactics Are Based on Standards
  5. Security Controls Are Customized
  6. Cybersecurity Budget Considerations
  7. Start with a Cybersecurity Assessment

1. The Overlap of Cybersecurity and IT Management

It’s helpful to keep in mind that security isn’t a silo that stands apart from everything else you do to manage IT. Cybersecurity should be baked into your processes, practices, and purchasing decisions. This requires a high level of collaboration so that everyone can be on the same page.

At the same time, security and IT management sometimes conflict. For example, adding multi-factor authentication (MFA) means people need to take an additional step to access their accounts. They may get used to it as it blends into their routine but there may be some pushback when the measure is implemented. While some practices can’t be compromised, feedback from IT management as well as technology users, should be considered when creating and refining cybersecurity strategy.

2. Cybersecurity is a Dynamic Process

There’s no “set it and forget it” with cybersecurity. In fact, that’s why you need a strategy because it defines your approach to security. An approach is different from a plan. When you approach cybersecurity with the understanding that you’re going to have to evolve, that requires that you have components of your plan that support change.

This isn’t as complicated as it sounds. It can simply be adding routine auditing into your plan so that you can assess how everything is working and make changes as needed. It can be giving staff the autonomy to make quick decisions. It’s also giving staff time to read, research and stay up to date with evolving trends.

3. A Cybersecurity Process is Built with Layers

An effective cybersecurity process is built with layers that work together to create a solid defense. For example, let’s say a spam email makes it past your email filter and an employee clicks on a link that downloads a malware intrusion. That intruder is going to get caught by your Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) tool.

Non-technical layers of security are just as important as the technical layers. Non-technical security measures include physical security and policies that determine how accounts and company data can be accessed. Another non-technical layer is cybersecurity awareness training which would make it more likely that an employee would recognize a suspicious email and avoid clicking or downloading something bad.

Related: Cybersecurity Basics: 12 Essential Layers You Can’t Ignore

4. Cybersecurity Tactics Are Based on Standards

The tactics that make up your cybersecurity plan should be based on defined standards. This is familiar territory for industries that have regulatory compliance requirements like HIPAA, PCI DSS, FISMA and CMMC. These regulations are based on frameworks that contain specific standards for protecting information.

Standards provide consistency in how security is implemented, and every company needs that. However, not every company needs to completely follow a specific framework. This is where the guidance of a Virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO) comes in. A vCISO provides executive and tactical guidance to identify exactly which standards are necessary to meet the risk profile and tolerance of a specific organization.

Related: Learn about Compliance Frameworks

5. Security Controls Are Customized

Not only can cybersecurity standards be customized to an organization’s needs, but the security controls that implement standards can be customized as well. Your organization’s operations will determine how security controls are chosen. Sometimes, however, adjustments or complete changes to business processes are needed to make them secure.

While you have some options as you’re aligning security controls with standards, there are some pieces on which you can’t compromise. For example, using Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) or keeping software up to date and patched should be non-negotiable.

6. Cybersecurity Budget Considerations

If you use the internet at all, you need security and the amount of money that you’re paying today to protect your business from cyber crime is no doubt more than it was just five or even three years ago. That’s because cyber criminals have evolved their technology and security technology has evolved to keep up.

Here’s another place where a vCISO plays an important role in creating your security strategy. They can help you to avoid overlapping capabilities as you’re choosing tools, and make sure that they’re compatible and can integrate. They can also help you plan and budget for long term security improvements.

7. Start with a Cybersecurity Assessment

When you want to take your cyber risk management efforts from hit or miss to strategic, your first step should be to get a cybersecurity assessment. An assessment will evaluate what you’re doing now and compare it with security best practices and your risk profile. Then as you’re building your cybersecurity strategy you can prioritize your security roadmap depending on what’s most urgent.

Related: What’s Involved with a Cybersecurity Assessment?

Cybersecurity Strategy for New Orleans Businesses

Get the idea that there’s a lot that you have to think of when you’re creating cybersecurity strategy? Most companies need help to stand up a confident cyber defense and that’s where Bellwether comes in. At Bellwether, we work with clients to build cybersecurity strategy that takes all of the factors into account.

Our local team of cybersecurity professionals are here to protect you – not nickel and dime you with every piece of security software that’s the latest shiny object. The process is going to be built on what your organization needs, not on what we want to sell you.

Get in touch to schedule a security consultation.