You might think that your company has its cybersecurity under control. The latest technology is protecting the network and systems. Protocols are in place for employees to follow, and this includes practices for reporting potential vulnerabilities and breaches.
While it may give you peace of mind, believing that you are protected from cybersecurity breaches, are you completely confident in your ability to protect information from hackers?
A cyber maturity assessment (CMA) is a helpful tool business of any size can use. It can also serve two purposes. One is to determine your business cyber maturity level, and the other is to see if you are meeting the required security protocols.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about cyber maturity assessments, along with why and when you should take one.
What is Cybersecurity Maturity
Cybersecurity maturity is a term that refers to an organization’s ability and degree of readiness to mitigate vulnerabilities and threats from hackers. The more ‘mature’ a company’s cybersecurity protocols and practices are, the better equipped it is at preventing threats before they become breaches.
However, it’s not easy for an organization to know if its cybersecurity practices are mature or still need to be improved.
There are several cybersecurity maturity models businesses can use as a framework to develop their best practices. Two models that take a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity are the Cyber Security Capability Maturity Model (C2M2) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST CSF).
Even though the C2M2 model was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy for utility and power companies, it’s pertinent in other industries that handle protected data. This model focuses on 10 domains, while the NIST CSF covers 5 cybersecurity standards. Both models are self-assessments which will give companies a clear idea of how effective its current security protocols are.
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C2M2 Cybersecurity Model
NIST doesn’t consider the C2M2 to be a maturity model since it doesn’t have tiers or levels to build on. The 10 domains that it focuses on are important aspects of any organization’s cybersecurity framework. The model assesses a company’s strengths and weaknesses in the following areas,
- Risk management
- Management of assets, change, and configuration
- Access and identity management
- Vulnerability and threat management
- Situational awareness
- Information communications and sharing
- Incident response
- Continuity of operations
- Supply chain and external vendor management
- Workforce and cybersecurity program management
NIST Cybersecurity Model
NIST only focuses on 5 domains, instead of 10. However, these five cybersecurity functions are the foundation of every good security program.
As you can see both of these models focus on an organization’s ability to protect data from breaches with the use of tools that limit unauthorized access, along with detecting and promptly responding to threats.
Whether you choose one of these models or another as the framework for your cybersecurity program, you still need to measure your business’s cybersecurity maturity.
Measuring Your Business’s Cybersecurity Maturity
Cybersecurity maturity models not only provide the framework but can also measure the company’s level of maturity. During the cybersecurity model assessment, ratings will be given for each domain so businesses will know what areas might need to be improved.
Since the test is self-given and not part of an industry compliance standard, your company’s level ratings may not need to be reported. However, you will want to save the documentation to show that you are being proactive in your cybersecurity practices. Some compliance regulations do require this.
Ratings for cybersecurity maturity typically range from 0 (lowest) – 5 (highest). If a company scores a “0” on a cybersecurity function, it signals that the business is either doing the bare minimum to protect against breaches or nothing at all.
If an organization has a “5” rating, it indicates that the company has optimized practices and controls and is well-equipped to detect and prevent cyber threats. All businesses should strive for “5” ratings during the security model assessment.
What Are the Benefits of a Cyber Maturity Assessment
Performing a cybersecurity maturity assessment does take time and can temporarily halt some company operations, but there are benefits to the inconvenience.
- You’ll gain important insights into the company’s cybersecurity practices and how effective it is at preventing breaches.
- The information learned can be used to improve current cybersecurity measures or guide you where new ones need to be added.
- The assessment results can be compared with similar organizations to help identify security trends.
- It will prevent organizations from relying too heavily on some security controls and ignoring others.
- Improve communication between employees, IT personnel, and upper-level management by supplying documentation.
A cyber maturity assessment is a tool designed for businesses to use. It shows companies how their cybersecurity protocols can be consistently improved to meet changing threats from hackers.
Whether the current security practices were implemented in-house or contracted out to a third-party certified technician, the business invested time and money. A self-assessment will let companies know if their money was well-spent, along with how efficiently the security program performs.
One of the most important benefits of a security maturity assessment is that it shows businesses where improvements need to be made. An organization can start with good cybersecurity practices, but if functions aren’t regularly assessed it’s impossible to know how effective they are.
Changes might have to be made to the current security protocols to keep up with threats. In addition to identifying security trends, the assessment will help highlight which protocols need attention over the others. Identity access management may no longer be a viable threat for the company, instead data entry points between systems are becoming a target for hackers.. The assessment will help you stay current with these and other potential threats so you can take proactive steps.
When Should You Take a Cybersecurity Maturity Assessment
There isn’t a wrong time to perform a security maturity assessment. However, there are specific instances when you should schedule one. This includes,
- If the company has never assessed its cybersecurity protocols
- When the last assessment was 12-months or longer
An assessment is also recommended when the company is preparing to invest in cybersecurity technology, whether it’s a single-solution or full-suite program. When a company is trying to learn what maturity level it falls on or is getting ready to move to a higher one, a self-assessment is recommended.
Whenever the business performs the assessment, there are a few things it should expect to learn.
- The business’s current maturity level.
- What maturity level the business should aim for.
- How the company’s maturity level compares to others in the industry.
- Know what steps need to be taken to optimize security practices.
- How the steps should be prioritized.
After the security maturity assessment, businesses will know exactly what actions they need to take to strengthen any vulnerabilities or add new protocols.
Is a Cybersecurity Assessment Worth The Expense
Even if the self-assessment is performed in-house it is still an investment for the company. The IT department may require extra funds to implement the necessary changes and the assessment takes time to perform. During the assessment, some employees will not be performing their regular duties, and it might also result in the shutdown of some operations. All of these costs can add up.
Considering this, a cybersecurity breach will be more costly.
Fines and penalties for cybersecurity breaches vary. Often the size of the data breach, the company’s cybersecurity record, along with compliance certification, plays a role in how much the business is financially penalized.
Along with industry fines, there are other fees that companies often face that include,
- Digital Forensic Fee: Paid to a third-party auditor, this fee is for forensic recovery. The company’s drives and logs will be preserved and the network and systems thoroughly searched. The purpose of this is to learn how and where the breach occurred, along with how long the hacker was in the system and his/her current location in the network. The average cost for an organization is $15,000 – $20,000.
- Attorney/PR Consultant Fee: Once a data breach occurs, the business must notify affected customers. Since it must be done correctly, an attorney is often hired to handle communications. An attorney will also be necessary if civil lawsuits ensue from the breach. A PR consultant might also be necessary to help restore the company’s image and start rebuilding trust with consumers.
- Remediation Costs: The expense of reimaging your company’s cybersecurity protocols can be prohibitive. You are starting from scratch again. Servers may need to be reimaged and databases rebuild. New firewall technology will also be necessary, along with improved encryption and segmentation. VLAN installation is another cost the company will have to pay.
A study on data breach costs in 2018 found that on average, small to medium size businesses pay around $3.86 million for a cybersecurity breach. The same study also noted that the average time it takes to discover a hacker is 180 to 200 days after the system was breached.
It should be noted that the average cost a business might expect to pay for a data breach includes all potential fines and penalties, along with fees. This won’t apply to all businesses.
Cyber threats are a fact of life, and something that every business that handles, manages, stores, or sells personal protected data or non-classified private information should be concerned about.
One cybersecurity breach could result in a potential financial disaster when the fines and penalties start adding up.
A cyber maturity assessment might not be something you want to do. It does cost companies in time and money, but nowhere near as much as a breach would. A self-assessment is a tool that you can and should use to routinely monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of your current cybersecurity protocols.
If you have questions about a self-assessment or want to bring in a third-party auditor, RSI Security is here to answer your questions.