Adapted from Four Key Necessities for Implementing a Cybersecurity Strategy, originally published in 2021
Data breaches and other cybersecurity threats are in the news on a regular basis. Though this has been a concern for years, threats are growing in scale and complexity as more business is conducted digitally and more data becomes available. In fact, some projections indicate that the total volume of data created, consumed, and stored worldwide will reach 180 zettabytes by 2025. At the same time, data breaches are becoming harder to identify as hackers and attacks become more sophisticated.
How can you establish a cybersecurity plan that’s effective today and that’s flexible enough to evolve with new data and best practices? Here are four key recommendations.
START WITH YOUR SMARTEST INVESTMENT
It’s important to identify your company’s most significant vulnerabilities and design a strategy that provides a high ROI. Simulated attacks, or penetration testing, can help identify these vulnerabilities before a breach occurs.
Your company’s smartest investment might come in the form of a “quick win” opportunity, like implementing dual-factor authentication to ensure that your employees’ devices remain safe while they’re working remotely. Conversely, your company’s smartest investment might be a more robust network security initiative to better protect sensitive customer information. Regardless of what the solution is, it’s important to avoid “shiny new toy syndrome.” Because of the ever-changing nature of technology, there isn’t one silver bullet solution. Instead of searching for one, focus your initial investment on finding an effective omnichannel approach that aligns with your business strategy and specific cybersecurity needs. This approach should account for the numerous ways employees and customers use technology to interact with your business.
SOLVE THE EXECUTIVE’S DILEMMA
Today, many CIOs, CTOs, and CISOs see two options. Option one: Paying for cybersecurity insurance and implementing proactive technology and processes. Or, option two: Operating “as-is” and accepting the risk of a potential hack. This dilemma comes from a combination of factors:
- Technology departments are working with limited budgets. Where does it make the most sense to spend money?
- Skilled resources are needed, whether they’re called to implement a new tool or they’re called to manage the fallout from an attack. Is a partnership with a vendor or a professional services organization more beneficial?
- Disruptions to the business are inevitable, whether they result from implementing a change or handling the aftermath of a breach. What type of disruption is your business better equipped for?
- Everyone’s under pressure to produce results and prove the ROI. Saving money upfront by continuing to operate as-is can be attractive, but this approach can create a false sense of cost savings. On the flip side, investing in a new process or insurance is expensive, and it can be hard to illustrate an immediate return. What are your organization’s expectations for demonstrating the ROI?
The executive’s dilemma comes from two valid, competing strategies. While there’s no right or wrong answer to each question, there is a right answer for your company based on the overall business strategy.
LEARN FROM THE EARLY MISTAKES OF YOUR CYBERSECURITY PLAN
Gaps in a cybersecurity strategy and missteps during a technology implementation are inevitable. Pilot programs and test cases are critical ways to account for and mitigate those gaps and missteps. By focusing on smaller, less risky sites to test and refine technologies that are new (and unproven) in the organization, you can gradually build stakeholder confidence and buy-in. Ultimately, this will lead to a more effective organization-wide implementation.
During this pilot phase, it’s also important to consider growth plans and how you plan to navigate the ever-changing landscape of innovation in technology.
BUILD ON EXISTING RELATIONSHIPS
Technology is only part of a successful digital strategy. Relationships are equally important.
An effective partnership with the business side of your organization will impact development, implementation, and user adoption. During the solution-shaping phase, business partners are critical in suggesting use cases, providing insight into their daily interactions with technology, and identifying potential vulnerabilities. Those same individuals can become change champions and advocates when it’s time to deploy the solution.
A strong relationship with your cloud service provider is another indicator of the long-term success of the solution. Distributed technical architecture that includes various forms of cloud computing–multi-cloud, hybrid cloud, private cloud, SaaS applications–is the norm. In order to develop a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that meets this standard, companies must have a strong working relationship with service providers and maintain an understanding of each provider’s strategy and approach to compliance.
Above all, remaining flexible is the key to developing an effective cybersecurity plan. The tools and processes that work for some organizations might be the wrong fit for others. Additionally, new types of cybersecurity threats can challenge long-established best practices. Being prepared to tweak and adapt your approach as you learn new information will position your organization for continued success.
Cybersecurity is mission-critical for effective organizations in the 21st century. Are you ready to define or refine your approach? Fill out the form below to connect with one of our consultants and start the conversation.