Why Cybersecurity Should Be Customized to Your Business
Ransomware attacks have skyrocketed. An IDC study found that approximately 37 percent of organizations have fallen victim to some form of ransomware. Phishing, denial of service attacks and cryptojacking are also on the rise, with damages related to cybercrime expected to exceed $6 trillion globally in 2021.
Every organization must take steps to protect against these types of attacks. However, there’s no silver bullet for cybersecurity, no universal plan that will ensure protection for every enterprise. Cybersecurity strategy should be customized to each organization’s unique needs, vulnerabilities and tolerance for risk.
Cybersecurity must also take into account operational processes, departmental workflows and customer service requirements. Many organizations make the mistake of imposing strict security measures that impede productivity and cause users to create risky workarounds.
The Risk-Based Approach
A risk-based approach to cybersecurity starts with a business impact analysis (BIA). This involves documenting business processes and ranking them according to their criticality. Processes should be assessed from both technical and nontechnical perspectives. All underlying dependencies — including personnel, facilities, systems, applications, data and other resources — should be considered.
Cybersecurity strategy should be customized to each organization’s unique needs, vulnerabilities and tolerance for risk.
The next step is to perform a risk assessment to identify potential vulnerabilities and threats to key business processes. Each risk should be assigned a value based upon the potential consequences to the organization. Customized metrics help ensure cybersecurity investments are relevant to the organization’s specific challenges.
Now comes the process of choosing and implementing security controls, which include the policies, procedures and tools needed to mitigate risks. Many organizations use one or more security frameworks to guide their decisions. These frameworks offer the flexibility to use compensating controls, which are alternatives to security measures that are too difficult are impractical to implement.
Validation and Continuous Governance
It’s not enough to assume that all of this will work, however. Security controls should be tested and validated after implementation. Vulnerability assessments, penetration tests and tabletop exercises help organizations determine if their security controls provide adequate levels of protection. These evaluations can also identify any gaps in the security environment.
Testing and validation should provide documentation and reporting that facilitates compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. These reports can also help organizations apply for cyber insurance and obtain favorable rates.
Every phase of the risk-based approach should be turned into a repeatable process. BIAs and risk assessments should be performed at least annually, with additional ad hoc reviews if there are significant changes to the organizational structure, operational processes or IT environment. Security controls should be evaluated more frequently given the dynamic nature of the threat landscape.
Organizations should also give employees an opportunity to report cybersecurity issues — not just gaps that create vulnerabilities but controls that impact workflows. For example, are users resorting to insecure, consumer-grade tools for storing and transferring files? Are they sharing login credentials? Does it take too long to gain access to needed resources?
Continuous governance of cybersecurity controls and practices can also help drive accountability throughout the organization. Employees should have a clear path for escalating security events and documenting organizational and procedural changes. They should also understand their responsibilities and the consequences of noncompliance with established policies.
GDS is here to help customers understand risk and develop effective cybersecurity policies. We utilize well-defined methodologies and industry-proven tools, with built-in flexibility to meet specific needs.
A risk-based approach can help you understand what is most important to your operations so that you can prioritize cybersecurity, data protection, business continuity and other measures. Let GDS help you develop a customized security strategy that optimizes your defenses.
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