Today’s technology-driven era compels organizations worldwide to implement advanced systems and software. Organizations must leverage cutting-edge technology to remain ahead of the curve, from marketing software to supply chain systems and everything in between. Businesses, specifically small and medium organizations, transitioning from paper-based data systems to digital data systems have to tackle many issues. Let’s discuss cybersecurity strategy.

While business leaders are now prioritizing the establishment of digital systems due to the pandemic, there’s less emphasis on developing mechanisms to protect digital systems. This vulnerability has been demonstrated by a 600% increase in security breaches during the pandemic. Organizations across the board are now paying more than half a million dollars annually as ransomware payments to hackers.

Even a minor violation can cost companies thousands of dollars, resulting in hefty amounts for small businesses. Research shows that these cyber-attacks will continue to increase as organizational systems remain vulnerable despite the number of breaches and the cost of managing them.

Developing an Impenetrable Cybersecurity Strategy:

The most effective way to make your organization’s system impenetrable is to develop a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. It is a complex process requiring proficiency in cybersecurity. Therefore, it’s viable to hire a cybersecurity expert who can navigate the intricacies of advanced systems and the ever-evolving cyber threats. So, consider hiring experts with MS Cybersecurity degree credentials since they possess exceptional technical proficiency alongside essential skills and expertise.

Now, let’s look at the critical steps organizations should take to develop a cybersecurity strategy. Each step below contains the necessary action points to give you an overview of the process.

Step 1: Organizational Risk Assessment

A comprehensive risk assessment is the recommended first step to understand the external cyber-security issues threatening the business. In this step, organizations also assess the existing system to tackle loopholes and identify gaps. The following aspects are indispensable to include in the risk assessment.

  • Classification of external cybersecurity risks threatening the organization
  • Identification and mapping of organizational assets into software, systems, users, and identity
  • Identification and evaluation of existing technological resources
  • Categorizing organizational data as confidential, public, internal use only, intellectual property, and compliance restricted data
  • Using business intelligence analysis to prioritize risks and develop a risk register

Step 2: Review of Relevant Policies

Cybersecurity Strategy

The cybersecurity strategy emanates from the organization’s cybersecurity policy. It underlines the importance of cybersecurity and describes procedures governing data protection, compliance, and threat prevention and identification. Hence, after understanding the risk factors, the existing cybersecurity policy should be reviewed to identify gaps in policy implementation and recommendations to accommodate the new strategy.

If the organization doesn’t have a cybersecurity policy, it must begin working on one.

Step 3: Performance Review of Security Programs

In this step, you review the performance of your existing security programs and conduct penetration testing to assess cybersecurity preparedness. This process consists of the following action points.

  1. Review assessment based on cybersecurity architecture recorded incidents and breaches and performance of information systems.
  2. Evaluate the quality of data on security performance,  and identify missing data sources from the security program.
  3. In case sufficient data is not available, propose an assessment with timelines and budget to gather evidence on the performance of security programs.
  4. Prioritize “low-hanging fruit” to yield efficient and timely results.

Step 4: Cyber-Security Goals and Policies

The unavoidable step in this phase is using the assessment to develop cybersecurity goals that underscore the strategy’s main aim. Once the cyber-security goals are in place, the policies should be created anew or revised to reflect the new goals and facilitate the new cybersecurity strategy.

The goals and policies serve as the overarching principles that guide strategy development.

Step 5: Selection of Security Framework

Based on the results of your assessment, goals, and policies, you should select a cybersecurity framework. Several development frameworks are available, and these frameworks provide structure and tools for your strategy. The framework chosen should best address the organizational needs and measure the corporate vulnerability to security threats.

Furthermore, the framework should align with the organizational goals and legal requirements. Four commonly used frameworks are PCI-DSS for the consumer credit card industry, CMMC for DoD suppliers, NIST for healthcare, and CIS top 18 for SMBs.

Step 6: Strategy Implementation and Evaluation

Cybersecurity Strategy

The last step of the process is the most critical. All the proceeding effort in assessments and strategy development goes to waste if the strategy isn’t implemented correctly. Therefore, prepare a thorough implementation plan.

The plan starts with identifying critical units and assigning them tasks for implementation. Consider it like a project management exercise detailing action points, outputs, work plans, and timelines for execution. Strategy implementation should begin with staff training. This training should inform employees of the assessment results and showcase the gaps in the system and the need for a new strategy. The trainer should then brief employees on the latest cybersecurity policies, methods, and procedures. The effectiveness of the training will dictate whether employees can understand the new systems and their adherence to the new system.

Finally, evaluate the performance of the new cyber-security goals. The review should compare the performance of the new strategy with the previous systems in place and the strategy’s performance concerning the cybersecurity goals. Also, elicit feedback from all relevant stakeholders to identify the best work, gaps, and suggestions for further changes.

Final Thoughts

Every organization willing to develop a robust cybersecurity strategy should pay heed to the steps above. The first phase is Security Assessment which consists of three steps to assess the existing organizational resources and environment. Subsequently, the findings from the first phase inform the next stage. The second phase is Strategy Formation, which focuses on developing, implementing, and evaluating the cyber-security strategy.

This article provides a snapshot of the process and steps for developing a cyber-security strategy. Organizations and individuals engaging in this process can use this to get a sense of direction. However, it is viable to consult with a cybersecurity professional to understand the importance of each step. These experts are also the best source for ironing out the specifics of each step to the type and context of the organization and the cybersecurity threats they are facing.

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