6 Core Priorities for a Good Cybersecurity Program

As global cyber attacks increase in sophistication and frequency, a strong security position is critical. The effectiveness of an organization’s ability to detect and respond to risks is directly related to its ability to defeat them. In this blog, we outline 6 core priorities that will help you strengthen your cybersecurity, and move it further along the “maturity” curve.

Security risks are everywhere in your organization’s modern ecosystem. Your cybersecurity efforts – including security policies, technologies, and processes – all work to defend against these risks. But in order to stay a step ahead of the bad actors, you must continuously advance your cybersecurity toward a more “mature” posture.

Not sure how to get started? Here are 6 priorities for moving the needle along the stages of the maturity curve toward better cybersecurity:

  1. Establish a Governance and Oversight Process
    A priority for a good cybersecurity program is to establish governance – a set of policies and procedures that helps ensure that the program aligns with business goals and objectives. Next, define the roles, responsibilities, and the person or group responsible for overseeing the cybersecurity initiative. Most organizations today are challenged with finding good cyber leadership due to the security talent shortage. Modern organizations frequently turn to service providers to help fill this need.
  2. Develop a Process to Identify and Monitor Risks
    Most organizations don’t take the time to ask the basic questions to determine their risk: “Who is most likely to attack my organization (both internal and external actors)?” and “What assets would they target when they do attack?” Answering basic questions and establishing your organization’s risk tolerances provide cybersecurity analysts with a starting point to drive an analytics-based cybersecurity strategy. Security teams are often at a loss when determining what systems are most critical, what data they are trying to protect, and the types of security data to ingest. This process should include, but not be limited to, data from sources such as endpoints, servers, routers, databases, cloud-based services, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, security tools, and applications. Since many organizations struggle to find and retain security staff, the challenges that face many organizations are collecting, aggregating, and reviewing what can be an overwhelming amount of security data.
  3. Implement Continuous Monitoring to Protect 
    An organization’s risk posture is in a constant state of flux. Attacks are usually automated, new vulnerabilities are exposed daily, and system configurations change frequently and often with little to no testing before deployment. Many organizations require systems (e.g., a SIEM) that quickly aggregate, normalize, and enable security event logs and alerts to be monitored continuously for threats. It is worth noting that continuous monitoring requires the technology and skilled ability to absorb and manage vast volumes of data. Only in this way, however, can IT and security managers obtain real-time situational awareness of what’s happening across their organizations. With the many compliance mandates most organizations operate under, it is crucial to have eyes on glass 24x7x365.
  4. Analyze Data to Detect Threats
    Once the risk assessments have been initiated and continuous monitoring is in play, security teams have the tools to identify advanced threats, suspicious traffic patterns, unusual activity outside of known baselines, and other potential threat indicators. Data can be considered an asset instead of a potential roadblock at this stage, providing the organization with a deeper understanding of its risk posture and how it operates. Several technologies – such as managed security operations services, automation, and SIEM tools (managed or in-house) – can assist with the volume of data that teams must interpret. Proper tuning of a SIEM tool is key to detecting real threats. Without this optimization, too much data “noise” can easily cause security teams to miss potential security events.
  5. Respond to Incidents
    Once spotted, threats or suspicious activity should be addressed quickly to minimize potential damage to the organization. The use of advanced technology and automation can deliver tangible benefits. It helps improve the speed of containing a threat, such as identifying known malware or shutting down an infected asset immediately. It also can streamline repetitive manual tasks and security processes that free up teams to focus on other critical tasks. Documenting benefits can help IT and security professionals justify budget requests for security technology assets and easily prove that the spend was well-worth the investment.
  6. Recover from Incidents
    Because some of the assets affected could be critical to business operations, it is essential to have well-thought-out business continuity and disaster recovery plans in place. Testing these plans is equally as vital to ensure that they function as expected. Proper testing will demonstrate that a program is reliable and that each person understands the role he or she plays – providing security and IT teams with confidence during a breach. Restoring and returning affected systems to your business environment is crucial., of course, but it is essential to get your systems and business operations up and running without fear of another breach.
    Questions to address during the restore process:

    • When can systems be returned to production?
    • Do the teams have a plan of attack to restore the most critical systems, if known and possible, based on the attack?
      • Having up-to-date Business Impact Analysis documents – and reviewing them with the team before a breach happens – will help team members know the prioritized order for recovering the various affected systems.
    • Have systems been patched, hardened, and tested before being placed back into production?
    • Can system(s) be restored from a trusted backup? Is that backup immutable?
    • How long will the affected systems be monitored, and what should teams be looking for?

A solid and progressive plan for improving your cybersecurity program will help you defend your organization in an aggressive threat landscape. Follow the core priorities outlined above to ensure that you are advancing your efforts continuously toward a strong security posture.

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