How to Make a Cybersecurity Plan That Actually Works

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The prevalence of cybercrime and the consequent need for enhanced cybersecurity measures are both on the rise. According to the Internet Crime Report, a record-breaking 847,376 complaints with potential losses of over $6.9 billion were reported to the FBI in 2021. With constantly developing cyberattacks, ransomware franchise models, and easy phishing-as-a-service kits, cybercrime today needs just basic computer skills and has attracted a bigger and more diversified criminal population. But how can you remain ahead in this never-ending battle when you have a limited budget, and everyone from regulators to consumers to your cyber insurance provider is urging you to strengthen your defenses? These four pillars are the foundation for developing an effective and economic cybersecurity strategy.

The Four Critical Factors of an Effective Cybersecurity Strategy

Most firms have limited cybersecurity budgets, so optimizing risk reduction and lowering expenditures is critical. Assessing your security posture and developing a cybersecurity strategy are prerequisites to implementing the most cost-effective security measures. If you want to build a solid cybersecurity strategy for your company, you need to evaluate four primary strategic factors:

1) Be aware of the value you’re protecting.

You can’t do a good job of securing your assets unless you know what they are. The tasks you should do at this stage are as follows:

Systems, data, and assets must be cataloged as the first step in any cybersecurity strategy. Things to be considered are:

Information about staff and clients. List all the sensitive information about employees and customers, including names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, driver’s license scans, bank account details, tax returns, and financial records.

Structures and resources. A complete inventory of your servers, software, SaaS, cloud applications, backups, and file-sharing services is required. Assets including mobile devices, computers, storage drives, and Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled machinery and sensors should all be included.

Determine your requirements and available resources, then choose an inventory tracking technique accordingly. You may get started with a simple Excel spreadsheet to keep track of your information and resources. While cheap, this method might be laborious to fill and update.

As you take stock of your information, think about what you can delete. Unfortunately, data is a potentially lethal substance. If your system is infiltrated, the greater the damage will be if you have much sensitive information stored there. Eliminating unnecessary data is a fast and cheap technique to lessen vulnerability. As part of your company’s cybersecurity strategy, you should only preserve the data you need and erase the rest regularly.

  1. Be aware of your responsibilities.

With the advent of the internet came many new contractual and legal responsibilities, including cybersecurity-related. Knowing your organization’s responsibilities inside and out is crucial to developing a cybersecurity strategy that works for you. Here are some of the potential responsibilities your strategy will need to address:

There are now a variety of modifications being made to both state and federal privacy legislation. Several states have passed or are considering privacy legislation. Regarding state privacy legislation, our colleagues have put up a fantastic map covering the current status of these statutes. Moreover, new 36-hour reporting requirements went into effect for certain financial institutions in the spring of 2022, and the United States recently passed the Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022 that will require covered entities to “report any substantial cybersecurity incidents or ransom payments to the federal government within 72 and 24 hours, respectively.” It’s a good idea to consult a cybersecurity attorney to determine your legal responsibilities in light of the ever-changing nature of cybersecurity and privacy regulations. Once a year, you should check in to make sure your program is still by all the rules and regulations that are in effect.

The need to protect against cyber threats is already standard practice for many businesses and their clients. Many businesses now demand their clients and business partners to report incidents, provide software bills of materials, and meet certain training and security benchmarks as part of their agreements. Ensure that you have a list of all contractually mandated security and privacy standards and a person appointed to manage these commitments.

  1. Keep track of your risks.

Every business has to know what vulnerabilities they may have in their network’s cybersecurity. There are several tools available to help you analyze and track your risk:

Examine the state of your cybersecurity controls. Assessing your cybersecurity controls entails closely examining your organization’s strategy, procedures, and tools. Your security posture is evaluated using a common measuring methodology, such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. You get advice on how to lessen your exposure to harm in the near and far future. This should be the core of any cybersecurity strategy since it offers a structure that includes five critical areas: identification, protection, detection, reaction, and recovery. You can accomplish this yourself, but it’s a lot of effort, and you may be better served if you outsource this to an experienced team. In order to establish and improve your cybersecurity strategy, your firm should pick a standard and employ your chosen framework, such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework or the ISO 27001 standard.

Plan some technical trials. Every year, you should do a penetration test to ensure the security of your network. It locates potential vulnerabilities in the system before a criminal may find them. But you shouldn’t limit your penetration test to simply your local network. Companies nowadays often make the error of not doing enough testing of their cloud infrastructure. Too many customers had mistakenly assumed their cloud was safe when, in reality, it was the cause of a breach due to improper setup. While penetration testing is a good starting step in the right direction, it’s important to undertake a risk assessment after you’ve found your holes to determine the order in which to address them. Make sure you do technical testing to detect weaknesses and build a repair strategy, whether conducting the comprehensive security controls evaluation we covered above or a more limited risk assessment.

Record and analyze occurrences. Creating an incident report monthly is an integral part of risk management. Monthly reviews of this data, whether recorded manually in an Excel spreadsheet or automatically via event tracking software, will allow you to assess risks and identify program strengths and flaws. A post-mortem meeting should be held after each serious occurrence. This data will allow you to fine-tune your company’s cybersecurity strategy.

  1. Manage your risk

Creating a long-term strategy for risk management and reduction is an important aspect of any comprehensive cybersecurity plan, which can be accomplished by following the steps outlined in any of the cybersecurity frameworks above. A spreadsheet or software tool that allows you to go back and modify your risks as your program develops are both useful ways to keep track of and respond to potential threats. This will aid you in determining how to prioritize and handle each risk. The following are the usual risk management options:

  • Avoid the risk by discontinuing the associated activities.
  • Reduce danger by setting up safeguards.
  • Transfer the risk to a third party, such as insurance.
  • Adopt an optimistic outlook

Once you’ve established how to handle each risk, you may map out and monitor what you’ve taken to minimize them over many years.