Your data security approach not only has an impact on the safety of essential business data but also affects how prospective clients view your brand. Customers want to be sure their data will be safe in your hands before doing any business with you. This means your cybersecurity strategy has a bearing on the performance and future of your business as well.
These seven tips will help you create a strong strategy and protect your company from business-disrupting cyber-attacks.
How to Develop a Cybersecurity Strategy Step-By-Step
1. Review past and current security strategies
Before drafting a new strategy, it is important to assess its predecessors and see why they didn’t work. Was it because of poor planning, poor execution, management negligence, or lack of resources?
Once you have done a thorough review of previous strategies, assess the current security environment, and see whether you need to make any tweaks before beginning to develop a cyber security strategy.
2. Hire a CISO
Virtually all companies with an online presence are subject to cyber-attacks. Operating without a chief information security officer (CISO) or with a clueless one can make you more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. This can jeopardize the integrity of customer data and your regular business operations.
If you are going to outsource your cybersecurity services, ensure that you have someone on your team who knows what planning a cybersecurity strategy entails who can review the security company’s progress in real-time.
A CISO is charged with setting up a company’s security strategy and preparing the administration for emerging threats and techniques.
When hiring a CISO, look at their qualifications and experience and only hire based on how good they are at their work. Their principles and beliefs must be aligned with your company’s; and they should be willing to make necessary changes to their style of operation to fit in.
On your part, ensure you have realistic expectations and understand that hiring a CISO doesn’t translate to immunity from cyber-attacks.
3. Involve the entire organization
While not everyone is an expert at cybersecurity, a good strategy should involve all departments and employees. Some data breaches are the direct result of employee action, and leaving some people out of the grand scheme can lead to avoidable mistakes that would render all that effort pointless.
What’s more, making your employees part of the plan only makes them feel appreciated and portrays you as a good leader.
Here are a few ways to make your whole organization part of your cybersecurity plan:
- Offer basic cybersecurity training as a prerequisite to all new employees.
- Hear from employees in various departments to understand their daily operations and security from their point of view.
- Plan and implement occasional security awareness activities that all employees can take part in.
4. Simulate security incidents
One way to assess your organization’s preparedness for cyber-attacks is to simulate incidents and see how fast and efficiently your security team reacts to them. Note that while individual attacks are unique, there are so many categories of cybersecurity threats. The simulation should, therefore, not be that much of a task.
Many organizations are complacent and will overlook the need to simulate breaches simply because it’s never happened to them. The fact is, being caught unawares and not knowing what you are up against can prolong your reaction time and take a greater toll on your organization’s operations.
Make your cybersecurity team and employees understand the different types of cyber threats. Let them differentiate between ransomware and spyware, and know the basics of responding to each, regardless of sophistication. This way, you will have a place to start when the balloon goes up.
5. Partner with industry peers
While you may compete for the same customers, you and your rivals are fighting the same enemy when it comes to cybersecurity. Networking is critical, and secluding yourself on an island will only come to hurt you.
If your company is still in its infancy or you are a cybersecurity greenhorn, consider joining an ISSA-, InfraGard-, or ISACA-affiliated networking group. These organizations will improve your knowledge of cybersecurity and best practices and introduce you to the challenges you share with your industry colleagues.
6. Hire the best talent
The technology industry is experiencing a skill gap, with reports pointing to a global skill deficit of more than four million workers by the end of the decade. The cybersecurity space is expected to take the hardest hit. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, there will be 3.5 million cybersecurity spaces to fill by 2022.
This means one thing: organizations cannot go on with conventional recruiting techniques if they want to fill the projected gap in the next few years. As an employer, you have to look beyond that and adopt an effective criterion that expands the talent pool.
Consider focusing on aptitude, not as a complementary attribute to a qualification but as a separate, independent requirement.
Alternatively, consider paying for the cybersecurity training of your current IT team. Outsource services until your team is fully trained and can develop a cybersecurity strategy.
The laws of supply and demand will eventually adjust the market, but organizations need to focus on aptitude rather than qualifications.
7. Monitor networks
Network monitoring is a network management subject that helps organizations spot failing or slow components that might weaken systems.
Your network should collect and provide information on the state and functioning of all connected devices. If there is a potential breach somewhere in the systems, an email alert should be sent, showing the type of activity that has been identified.
You can use antivirus software to monitor traffic and scan your system for signs of breaches.
Investing in cybersecurity today will prepare your business for future attacks and protect your reputation in the event that a breach occurs. One of the most rewarding steps you can take is to sensitize your employees and give them basic cybersecurity training so they know what to look out for. More importantly, ensure your cybersecurity strategy is prepared and implemented by a security expert with experience in handling similar tasks.