Cybersecurity is a top priority for most organizations operating in the digital economy. It isn’t difficult to understand why. Cybersecurity events have skyrocketed in recent years, both as organizations have slowly deployed new digital technologies across their businesses and are increasingly using hybrid work models.

The resulting digital workplaces have opened new attack vectors for threat actors to exploited, making a robust cybersecurity program essential for success. Enabling you to protect your reputation, conduct proper risk assessment, and ensure regulatory compliance, a cybersecurity program makes your organization more resilient in the face of emerging threats.

The Importance of an Effective Cybersecurity Program

The rapid advancement of technological innovations makes doing business easier and more efficient. The problem? There are new opportunities for hackers to penetrate systems and exfiltrate data. The growing concern around cybersecurity makes creating an effective cybersecurity program a critical priority for any organization with a cyber footprint. A security program is the combination of security controls, procedures, teams, and remedial plans an organization has in place to reduce cybersecurity risk and recover data in the event of an attack.

Why develop a cybersecurity program?

  • Protect your reputation: Your organization’s brand in the digital economy depends on your ability to protect your customers’ personal data. By implementing a strong cybersecurity program, businesses demonstrate they take their customers’ personal data seriously.
  • Stay compliant: Regulatory agencies are responding to the growing cybersecurity threat by introducing new compliance regulations (and refining existing ones). An effective security program includes controls to ensure adherence to all relevant regulations, helping organizations avoid costly and damaging noncompliance investigations and fees.
  • Coordinate cybersecurity efforts: Often, an organization’s cybersecurity strategy is fragmented across different departments, leaving gaps in their security posture that create vulnerabilities. A cohesive cybersecurity program ensures standardized alert detection, threat analysis, and incident response across the entire IT environment.
  • Mitigate third-party risk: Outsourcing operations to third-party vendors exposes companies to additional risk, which can be more difficult to identify and protect against. A well-developed cybersecurity program includes third-party security protocols. Additionally, it ensures third parties have the right controls in place to protect sensitive data and mitigate risk exposure.

4 Key Components of a Successful Cybersecurity Program

There are numerous ways to create an effective cybersecurity program. Security controls should always be matched to the specific requirements and needs of the organization. However, there are essential elements that are fundamental any cybersecurity program. These include:

Business and data recovery plan

Sometimes the worst happens despite the best efforts of the cybersecurity team to keep data safe. When it does, it’s critical to have plans in place to recover data and ensure business operations return to normal quickly. Organizations should keep regular data backups — preferably stored in an off-site location — to mitigate the data loss resulting from an attack.

Cybersecurity training

People are an organization’s most important asset. That’s true for cybersecurity programs as well. Employees also represent an important cybersecurity risk, as threat actors often exploit mistakes to penetrate systems. Conduct ongoing training with employees on best practices to ensure they do everything to protect their account information.

Relevant performance metrics

Cybersecurity programs are an investment. While the ROI can be substantial, it’s important there are procedures in place to measure the impact and success of the program. Track metrics like mean time to detect (MTTD), intrusion attempts, and mean time to contain (MTTC) to quantify the performance of your program.

Ongoing monitoring

Cybercriminals constantly develop their skills and capabilities. Organizations need to stay abreast of emerging threats and constantly test their security systems to better understand where new vulnerabilities exist. This helps them enhance and improve their security apparatus against the changing threat landscape.

Steps to Building a Cybersecurity Program

Following are the basic steps for crafting your cybersecurity program:

Step 1: Outline a cybersecurity vision

Cybersecurity programs require sufficient executive buy-in to be successful. Detail a clear vision that places the proposed cybersecurity program inside the broader digital journey of the organization to elucidate goal alignment.

Step 2: Conduct a risk assessment

Identify the malicious actors that might have an interest in penetrating your systems and stealing critical data. These could be amateur black-hat hackers all the way up to cyberterrorists.

Step 3: Identify relevant compliance regulations

An effective cybersecurity program will have to adhere to all relevant compliance regulations. These vary by industry, so it’s critical to understand which regulations are relevant to your organization and build controls to ensure proper compliance.

Step 4: Put the proper controls in place

Once you understand your cybersecurity goals and threat landscape, identify the tools, procedures, personnel, and software you need to invest in to develop the program you envision.

Step 5: Conduct ongoing gap analysis

Regularly test all technological solutions, governance procedures. and security personnel to ensure cybersecurity policies are being properly implemented and identify any gaps that require further remediation.

Enhance Your Cybersecurity Program

Threats are constant and ever evolving. Continuous improvement of your cybersecurity program ensures it stays resilient against the latest threats. Here’s how:

Know the latest cybersecurity developments

Cybercriminals constantly evolve their capabilities, and the most secure networks don’t stay that way for long. It’s critical for organizations to understand the latest developments in cybersecurity to not only know what types of attacks they’re most vulnerable to but also the security measures they should put in place to guard against them.

Of course, cybersecurity is varied and complex. Organizations should narrow their approach by considering the risks (and risk factors) that are most relevant to their organization.

Don’t just be proactive, be reactive

It almost feels like a misnomer. After all, the best cybersecurity programs are the ones that prevent attacks from happening in the first place. While it’s critical to take every proactive measure you can to secure your entire IT ecosystem, it’s equally important to have plans in place in case an attacker does penetrate your networks.

Organizations should take the time to devise effective, comprehensive response plans to remediate any attack that occurs. These should not only include data recovery but also business continuity plans to ensure operations stay afloat. Organizations also need to hire and train the appropriate security personnel to investigate security alerts and breaches and execute those remedial plans.

[Related Reading: Create a Comprehensive Cybersecurity Automated Incident Response Plan Before You Need It]

Invest in cloud application security

Cloud applications are better equipped to handle massive volumes of data and facilitate exchanges across vast and increasingly complex IT ecosystems. While that brings numerous benefits to organizations, it also creates new vulnerabilities.

Organizations should invest in cloud application security controls to mitigate some of the leading threats in cloud security — including account hijacking, insufficient access controls and outdated firewalls — to keep the data housed in their cloud infrastructure safe and secure.

Get the Right Team of Professionals on your Side

As organizations continue to work remotely and malicious actors fine tune their hacking capabilities, cybersecurity programs are essential to business resilience in a digital economy. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t know where to start when crafting their cybersecurity program.

That’s why it’s important to have the right team of cybersecurity professionals on your side. Our team at Fortra’s Alert Logic consists of security experts who provide organizations with the tools, knowledge, skills, and expertise they need to safeguard their sensitive data 24/7y. We also work with them to develop customized incident response plans to activate in the event of an attack.

Schedule a demo today to start transforming your security posture.


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