How to Create an Effective Cyber Security Strategy
With cyber crime predicted to cost the world $6 trillion a year by 2021, the need for an effective cyber security strategy to defend your organization from hackers is critical. The most effective strategies focus on a comprehensive approach to cyber security, rather than solely focusing on the technology involved. All potential breach points must be considered, and subsequently strengthened. The most vulnerable entry points can be simplified into three categories - People, Process, and Technology. A comprehensive strategy will focus on fortifying these three breach points, making them the pillars of an effective cyber security strategy. By combining the Three Pillars with the Three Essential Steps, your cyber security strategy will be ready and able to defend your organization against cyber attacks.
Pillar 1: People
Whether you choose to hire an in-house cyber security team or contract an outside firm, your organization's well-being will be dependent upon the effectiveness of their strategy. If your cyber security team does not keep your organization's sensitive data safe, it can cripple you. As such, it is crucial that the people to whom you entrust this massive responsibility are experts, and capable of keeping your organization safe.
Below are a few key components to look for in your cyber security team:
1. Group qualifications.
It is imperative to understand the cyber security team's individual and group qualifications. If the team is under-qualified, it is extremely likely that their strategy will not protect your organization effectively.
2. Staff is up-to-date on the latest cyber threats and security measures.
The cyber environment is constantly changing; as such it causes the 'experts' who don't stay updated to fall victim to new attacks that have been designed to outsmart their outdated security defenses.
3. The cyber security team takes the time to train your people.
The 'People' who affect your cyber security strategy are not only the IT experts who you hire to architect your cyber security strategy, but your own staff as well. (Most ransomware attacks start with employees accidentally "opening the door" to your data.) It is your cyber security team's responsibility to guard all potential breach points; your own employees are a potential breach point. The cyber security team should inform and train your employees about how to thwart common attacks directed at them, such as phishing.
Pillar 2: Process
A well-defined process that defines how your defenses are set, implemented, and monitored is a pivotal part of an effective strategy. Following a pre-determined course of action will prevent a number of issues that could lead to a breach, ranging from miscommunication to failing to regularly update defenses.
Creating a process brings the theoretical cyber security strategy to an actionable level. At this level, you will be able to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your strategy. You will also be able to see how your team documents and monitors performance. Their level of honesty and meticulousness is an indicator of whether they truly are the correct people (Pillar 1) to be entrusting your company's well-being to.
Below are a few key components of any effective process:
1. Outlines key strategy components at an actionable level.
2. Explicitly defines the roles of each individual involved, as well as their distinct responsibilities.
3. Clearly communicated to each of individual involved.
4. Includes a course of action in the event that a breach occurs. (Learn more about the first critical steps to take after a breach occurs.)
5. Regularly reviewed and optimized as a response to the ever-changing cyber threat environment.
Pillar 3: Technology
Out-of-date technology is powerless to stop ever-adapting cyber threats. To be effective, your cyber security team needs to constantly update your defenses. Technology relies upon the Three Essential Steps of cyber security - identification, remediation, and monitoring - to be effective.
Often, an automated process is used to identify and remedy weak areas. This technology first identifies the cause of a breach, and consequently establishes an update to all current defenses so as to prevent future breaches. Your team should constantly be monitoring all of your technology, including the automated processes, to ensure that it is effectively securing your data.
A few basic steps that your team should take to keep your technology defenses strong are:
1. Updating and patching your applications, as well as their operating systems.
2. Remaining in compliance with your industry standards.
3. Implementing audits and testing for user accounts, network security, wireless networks, applications, and physical security. (Learn more about the most common causes of data breaches.)
The 3 Essential Steps
Though each of the Three Pillars are critical components of an effective cyber security strategy, they are reliant upon the following Three Essential Steps:
These steps are the foundation of an effective cyber security strategy, and must be implemented as a perpetual cycle. Each time a threat (whether it be categorized in the People, Process, or Technology pillars) is identified, it must be remedied. Following the remediation, the cyber security environment should then be monitored to guard against future threats. If another threat is then identified, the cycle will repeat itself.
An Effective Cyber Security Strategy
Though the dire need for effective cyber security continues to grow, it can be answered by creating a strategy that combines the Three Pillars with the Three Essential Steps. A comprehensive strategy that accounts for all potential breach points, and is constantly monitoring and improving security measures is the most effective way to keep your data, and your organization, safe.
If you are interested in continuing the discussion about effective cyber security strategies, contact us today.