All it takes is one minor mistake for any CISO to be in the spotlight following a cyber attack—who will be next after Target, Under Armour, or Yahoo?
That’s why it’s so important to maintain complete visibility of your most valuable organizational assets. But studies show that 41% of companies have over 1,000 sensitive files available for anyone to view with 21% of general files not protected at all.
Figuring out where all of those assets are, who has access to them, and when they’re being accessed is essential to any cyber security strategy. However, this is just the starting point.
To protect these valuable information assets, you need to implement a cyber security strategy around the following key components - here are five of the most important ones.
1. Attack Surface Analysis Grounds a Cyber security Strategy
Once you understand the who/what/when of your information assets, you can start to think about how attackers could compromise them. Attack surface analysis helps you map out the different systems that have to be assessed for security vulnerabilities.
In some cases, you’ll find that vulnerable protocols don’t give attackers access to your information assets. In others, you’ll find a clear path for exploitation. Analyzing the attack surface in this way allows you to prioritize how you’ll implement your cyber security strategy.
High-risk aspects of your network can be protected with multi-layered cyber security tools while others can withstand more basic, cost-effective deployments.
But it’s important not to treat attack surface analysis as a one-and-done part of building an effective cyber security strategy. This is something that should be done continuously as you make changes to your network, the attack surface shifts, and new threats emerge.
2. Focusing on Security Controls and Event Monitoring
Security controls used to be all about preventive measures. All of your data, systems, and applications were on-premises and operated within the walls of strong perimeter cyber defenses. But now that cloud service models are blurring the network perimeter and spreading your data across the internet, security controls must go further.
Focusing on vulnerabilities is a losing battle. About 67% of companies have experienced a data breach at some point and more than 4,000 ransomware attacks are launched daily. Trying to shore up every vulnerability isn’t as important as being able to detect and respond to attacks quick when they do occur.
Because attacks are more of an inevitability than a possibility, an effective cyber security strategy hinges on advanced event monitoring. When you can automate the process of detecting threats and effectively respond with minimized dwell time, you’ll be able to mitigate the damage that can land companies in the data breach headlines.
3. Adding Threat Intelligence to a Cyber security Strategy
“Threat intelligence is evidence-based knowledge, including context, mechanisms, indicators, implications and actionable advice, about an existing or emerging menace or hazard to assets that can be used to inform decisions regarding the subject’s response to that menace or hazard.”—Gartner definition
Adding threat intelligence to your cyber security strategy is expensive. And worse yet, simply investing in threat intelligence data won’t actually improve a cyber security strategy.
The key to a successful security strategy is ensuring your intel is actionable. That means gaining deep insight into the context security engineers need to properly protect valuable assets and systems. Knowing which specific threats are targeting your industry, who is behind them, what their motivations are, and what kinds of systems they’re exploiting can make all the difference in your cyber security strategy.
Having actionable threat intelligence automatically fed to your network is the most efficient way to make use of this resource. But without an automated way to assess all of this data, you risk struggling against false alarms and skills gaps in manual analysis.
4. Testing Your Incident Response Plan
Every company needs an incident response plan included in their cyber security strategy. Attackers have become so sophisticated that even advanced prevention solutions can succumb to evasive threats. Without an incident response plan, cyber attacks can go from bad to worse quickly.
But it’s not enough to just go through the motions with incident response planning. You know you need to cover the main phases—preparation, identification, containment, eradication, recovery, and lessons learned. Once you’ve documented your plan, you need to go through extensive testing to ensure your cyber security strategy will be successful.
Going through a realistic test for your incident response plan will show you where you need to make changes that could potentially save you millions of dollars and tarnish your brand if an attack gets through your defenses.
5. Mitigating Human Error in Cyber security
The sad truth about cyber security is that upwards of 90% of all attacks stem from some kind of human error. All the money you invest in costly cyber security solutions could go to waste if just one employee unknowingly falls victim to a phishing scheme.
Mitigating human error is all about ongoing awareness training. When you build awareness training into your cyber security strategy and conduct regular drills and tests, you can keep employees up to date on the latest warning signs of threats.
Human error will always be a problem for your cyber security strategy. But the more you can improve awareness across your workforce, the easier it will be to mitigate these errors and protect your information assets.
The Value of a Clear Cyber security Strategy
Even the most well-thought-out cyber security strategies can fail if they’re not relatable to C-level management. Gaining budget approvals and executive buy-in for your strategy will require a detailed explanation of how cyber security impacts business risk and business goals.
When top-level management doesn’t see the value of cyber security, you risk being seen as a cost center. But when your plan becomes measurable and accountable, you can get out of the shadows and win support with fellow C-level executives.
Building a cyber security strategy that is easily understood by your CEO and board can make your plans more relatable. You get to choose the level of risk your organization is comfortable with and design a plan that perfectly fits the budget and expectations.
If you want to learn more about building an effective cyber security strategy, contact us today and find out how we can help.