How to Create A Cyber Security Strategy - 4 Step-Guide

Introduction to Developing a Cyber Security Strategy

With any business strategy, but especially security, companies should take a proactive approach to mitigate risks and avoid significant repercussions. Otherwise, smaller, unnoticed threats can potentially snowball to irreversible repercussions. Therefore, owners should invest in developing a cyber security strategy to protect their assets before they experience damaging events.

4 Steps to Developing a Cyber Security Strategy

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Developing a cyber security strategy requires a lot of labor, brainpower, and resources. However, when done correctly, the strategy can mitigate cyber hacks, data breaches, and other external threats. Even if a business has an established cyber security strategy, new management systems can render it useless.

Therefore, owners should review the four steps to creating a cyber security strategy to improve their security techniques.

1. Establish a Foundation

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In order to build a reliable foundation for the cyber security strategy, organizations need to focus on three primary components.

  • Data Protection
Businesses must understand their valuables and what assets they need to protect. As much as companies may try, they aren't able to safeguard everything they possess. Therefore, owners must identify their most sensitive data.

Managers can start by reviewing their internal processes and pinpointing where they generate revenue. They should also take note of which systems could potentially disrupt cash and data flow. The evaluation should note every management solution, IT application, and digital servers through the company.

  • Legal Regulations
Next, managers need to review compliance and security regulations regarding data management. It is important to remember that cyber security strategies have to abide by both company and industry standards. Non-compliant companies are subject to legal repercussions, such as fines. By establishing a compliant foundation, companies do not have to worry about meeting regulations.

  • Evaluate the Company's Risk Appetites
Cyber security strategies have to consider the business's risk appetite, which describes how many threats they can withstand. If a company exceeds its risk appetite, it could potentially compromise its safety. This risk level depends on an organization's financial performance, industry, and goals. Therefore, a cyber security strategy for a startup will not be adequate for a large corporation.

2. Analyze Threats

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Now that managers have defined the threats, it is time to analyze their actual impact on data and security. To perform an adequate analysis, managers will have to first evaluate their company's work environment. They can start by asking a few critical questions.

  • Who are the primary customers?
  • What products and services does the business sell?
  • Who would benefit from disrupting operations?
  • Where are the security vulnerabilities?
  • What threats do competitors face?

While evaluating competitors may seem like overkill, the threats that they face are typically industry-wide. In other words, businesses are highly likely to experience the same risks as their competition. Therefore, it is better to learn by example than from experience.

Next, managers need to look from the attacker's perspective to learn their strengths and weaknesses.

  • What resources do hackers have?
  • What are hackers' motivations?
  • What operations do attackers target?
  • What do attackers gain from security breaches?

3. Build the Cyber Security Plan

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It is finally time to start building the actual security plan. To make it easier to manage, members can split the planning process into four phases.

  • Pick a Framework for the Current Security State
Businesses can choose their framework between Center for Internet Security (CIS), International Organizations for Standardization (ISO), or The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). This step is extremely important, as the framework determines how efficiently companies can track their progress. For example, CIS controls prioritize events so businesses can protect themselves and each action they take.

During this step, owners also have to define the company's current security environment and establish a reasonable timeline. Aside from checking compliance, managers should ensure they are protecting the right assets with the correct processes. Members must objectively evaluate whatever systems are in place.

Then, managers need to develop a reasonable timeline based on their observations. Therefore, if the business has limited security measures, they may need a longer timeframe to work, and vice versa. It is important to remember that the schedule is subject to change throughout the project with any updates. However, managers should try to outline a target timeline so they can better assess their risks and time management.

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  • Evaluate the Company's Maturity Level
Next, either an in-house IT employee or external consultant needs to evaluate the organization's security maturity. Security maturity refers to a business's adherence to the best security practices for their industry and model. By measuring this, owners can define their weaknesses and areas in need of improvement. Regardless of how the analyst performs their analysis, it must be repeatable for future use.

  • Evaluate the Technology
Now it's time to assess the technology in place and pinpoint the tools the company isn't using to their total capacity. Software that the business doesn't use not only costs them unnecessary money but also lags the other systems. Therefore, managers should outline each solution, its primary purpose, its current usage, and its potential. This is a great way to find software that overlaps in functionality so companies can weed out unnecessary solutions.

  • Define Foundational Items
Sooner rather than later, managers should pinpoint foundational items with easy solutions. In other words, technical issues that they can fix immediately. By mitigating more minor risks first, businesses can use the remainder of their time for more demanding tasks.

4. Evaluate the Company's Execution Abilities

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After finalizing the security strategy, the team must objectively analyze the company's ability to execute the plan. If they lack the resources to launch the strategy, they may need to recruit third-party experts or outsource additional tools. Either way, managers must carefully consider potential hiccups, disruptions, and threats to their plan before launching.