6 essential priorities for a good cybersecurity program

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

Security risks are ubiquitous in your organization’s modern ecosystem. Your cybersecurity efforts, including security policies, technologies, and processes, all help defend against these risks. But to stay ahead of bad actors, you need to continually evolve your cybersecurity to a more “mature” posture.

Not sure how to start? Here are 6 priorities for moving the needle along the stages of the maturity curve towards 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 help ensure the program aligns with business goals and objectives. Next, define roles, responsibilities, and the person or group responsible for overseeing the cybersecurity initiative. Most organizations today struggle to find good cyber leadership due to the shortage of security talent. Modern organizations frequently turn to service providers to meet 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 (internal and external actors)?” and “Which assets would they target when attacking?” Answering basic questions and establishing your organization’s risk tolerances provide cybersecurity analysts with a starting point to drive an analysis-based cybersecurity strategy. Security teams are often at a loss when it comes to determining which systems are most critical, what data they are trying to protect, and what types of security data to ingest. This process shall 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. As many organizations struggle to find and retain security personnel, the challenges facing 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 constantly changing. Attacks are typically automated, new vulnerabilities are exposed daily, and system configurations change frequently and often with little or no testing before deployment. Many organizations require systems (eg, a SIEM) that aggregate, normalize, and continuously monitor security event logs and alerts for threat detection. It should be noted that continuous monitoring requires the technology and skilled capacity to absorb and manage vast volumes of data. However, only then can IT and security managers gain real-time situational awareness of what is happening in their organizations. With the many compliance mandates under which most organizations operate, keeping your eyes on the glass 24x7x365 is crucial.
  4. Analyze data to detect threats
    Once risk assessments have been initiated and ongoing monitoring is in place, 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 viewed as an asset rather than a potential hindrance 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 help manage the volume of data that teams need to interpret. Properly tuning 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 must be addressed quickly to minimize potential damage to the organization. Using advanced technology and automation can deliver tangible benefits. It helps speed up the containment of a threat, such as identifying known malware or stopping an infected asset immediately. It can also streamline repetitive manual tasks and security processes that allow 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 expense was well worth the investment.
  6. Retrieve Incidents
    Since some of the affected assets 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 vital to ensure they work as intended. Proper testing will demonstrate that a program is trustworthy and that everyone understands their role, giving security and IT teams confidence in the event of a breach. Restoring and returning affected systems to your business environment is of course crucial, but it is essential to keep 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 an attack plan 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 occurs — will help team members know the order of priority for the recovery of the various affected systems.
    • Have the systems been patched, hardened, and tested before being put back into production?
    • Can the system(s) be restored from a trusted backup? Is this backup immutable?
    • How long will affected systems be monitored and what should teams look for?

A solid, step-by-step plan to improve 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 continuously advancing your efforts towards a strong security posture.

If you would like more information on how our managed services can accelerate your journey to better security, please visit our solutions page.

*** This is a syndicated blog from the Security Bloggers Network of SilverSky written by michele johnston. Read the original post at: https://www.silversky.com/blog/6-core-priorities-for-a-good-cybersecurity-program/

Ryan H. Bowman