Cybersecurity is a game of preparation, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. And with a cybersecurity management plan, you can do just that.
Learn how you can plan and implement the proper security infrastructure for your business.
What is a Cybersecurity Management Plan?
Like any other plan, a cybersecurity management plan involves creating a security strategy for your organization.
The steps in the plan are flexible and dependent on a few factors such as:
- Organizational structure and size
- Third-party networks
- Information system size
However, even accounting for these factors, any organization can and should begin with some general steps, starting with evaluating your current environment.
Evaluate Your Current Security Environment
The first step to security management planning is to conduct a self-audit. The purpose of the audit is to assess where you stand now. These audits will help you understand where your gaps lie and what you are already doing correctly.
As we will see in the following two sections, the assessment will analyze the two core components to any security infrastructure:
- Organizational Security
- Technical Security
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When evaluating your organizational security, you should note points about the organization’s people and processes.
The kind of controls you can expect to see as part of the organizational security of your business are:
- Policies and Protocols: what kind of policies are already in place? (some examples include password management policies, data management policies, data compliance policies). Once identified, you will want to assess their effectiveness. Are the policies being followed? Are there some that are missing?
- Staff Security Awareness: the second and most prominent portion of organizational security comes from the people themselves. When all the technical security fails, the people are the last line of defense and decide whether a breach occurs. Well-trained staff will be much more effective at stopping potential violations.
- Physical Security: often an overlooked aspect of cybersecurity, physical security involves ensuring that access to office spaces is restricted to authorized personnel only. Making it easy to identify personnel permitted to be there and those who might be potential attackers. As part of the assessment, you should be diligent and check all physical spaces that contain sensitive data or means to access it (like servers).
The above are some broad examples of organizational security that many businesses can resonate with and will have to implement at one point or another. During the audit, you will want to check these parts of your organizational security for their current effectiveness.
The second part of the self-assessment is studying technical security. The technical security will involve all aspects of cybersecurity that are not organizational, such as:
- Anti-virus and anti-malware: these tools come in a software package. During your assessment, you should check the software installed (brand), whether you are on the latest patch update, and how many end-points (computers, laptops, etc.) have the software installed.
- Firewalls: firewalls are now an integral part of any security infrastructure. Without one, you leave your information system vulnerable to unsecured external internet traffic. During the audit, check that a firewall is in use, what type, and how often the rules are updated.
- Encryption of data: during the assessment, check to see if data storage systems are encrypted. Encryption should be evaluated in three phases: data at rest, data in use, and data in transit. You must assess these phases individually because each represents a new potential attack vector.
Once you have taken stock of your current security environment, you can move into the following management plan phase, evaluating the risks.
With your audit report generated from the previous phase, you now have a birds-eye view of your security gaps.
These gaps in your security infrastructure pose a threat to your organization, and you should develop a strategy to deal with them.
It means that in this phase of the plan, you should be focusing on the risks of leaving those gaps untended.
Break down your risk tolerance by categorizing the risks into low-risk, medium-risk, and high-risk. By referring to your self-audit, you can examine the gaps and place them into these three categories.
In the low-risk tier, which you might refer to as acceptable risk, you will mention the security features that may be lacking but will not result in a massive loss if unsolved. For example, during your self-assessment, you notice that encryption in one particular system is weak, but that system processes low-risk data.
In your risk assessment, you could consider this an acceptable risk, as a data breach would not result in significant financial or data loss.
You can then repeat these processes for the other two tiers of risk, medium and high, which will generate a tidy risk assessment that gives you a good overview of the situation.
This assessment is invaluable to those companies that have restricted budgets. Understanding acceptable risk and high risk can save you many resources when it comes to security implementation.
Even those corporations with big budgets have even bigger information systems, and retrospectively implementing a security infrastructure can be a very costly endeavor.
Unite People and Security Processes
The previous two phases in the cybersecurity management plan are the “preparatory steps,” as no real action is required. With this next phase, it is time to start opening up the conversion with the rest of the team.
Cybersecurity is no longer “just an IT issue” and requires the involvement of all those working for the company.
However, the burden of responsibility, primarily in the implementation, still leans more toward the IT and information security team. But the maintenance of the security environment is reliant on all parties pulling their weight.
How that looks depends on the organization itself. Some smaller teams are more agile, meaning their implementation strategy is flexible. Furthermore, involving the whole team is much easier and has positive lasting effects on the security culture.
In both larger enterprises and SMEs, this phase’s primary benefit is discovering new and cost-effective ways to implement the strategy. It also encourages fresh insight from the rest of the operation that strictly IT-centric minds might have missed.
Once you have onboarded the organization’s key individuals, it is time to review and implement the controls discovered during the audit.
Reflect on the gaps discovered during the audit and compare them to the risks assessed in the following phase. This practice will identify what security controls will be necessary to implement as part of the management plan.
These controls will also dictate how the future maintenance of the security environment will develop. They essentially become the pillars of the security infrastructure.
You will need to examine your budget at this stage and see what is feasible. Some of the heavier investments will include technology such as hardware and software. There may also be some service costs that you will need to consider, such as staff awareness training.
Lastly, it might be worth the time savings to enlist the help of a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP). They can take care of the managed security aspect such as firewall configuration and maintenance or security policy creation.
Whichever path you chose to take, this part of the plan will require action on your part. If we refer back to the risk analysis and audit, the security controls will naturally arise from examining these two phases.
However, you can always check one of the many cybersecurity frameworks out there for reference. Ensure that they are from a reputable source; some recommendations include:
Monitor and Log The Strategy
Once you have reviewed and implemented all previous management plan phases, all there is left is to maintain the plan.
Monitoring requires your organization to dedicate some time and resources to the security operation. In essence, you will be monitoring all previously implemented security controls (discussed in previous sections).
Your goals should be to assess the overall effectiveness of the plan. For example, suppose your network security implementation involved the application of managed firewalls.
You should then be checking the following:
- Did you choose the correct managed services for your businesses?
- Are the rules being updated regularly to account for recent threats?
- Does the firewall do its job without disrupting business processes (is there a balance?)
Beyond just the technical aspect of security, you should be logging process data, i.e., how the policies and protocols function. Most technical security tools come with inbuilt logging tools, but you will have to be more creative with processes.
You can use techniques like questionnaires and surveys to gauge the effectiveness of the policies. By asking your staff directly, the study or questionnaire will indicate how well they follow guidelines while getting valuable insight into improving them.
However, you should not compromise your security in the name of convenience. Always a balancing act; high comfort usually correlates to lower safety, and it is a cost that you will need to consider.
Nurture a Security Culture
Finally, a strong recommendation is to use the plan to build a security culture. This “step” isn’t exactly something that you write into a plan but something that the program can be working toward as a final goal.
Creating a security culture is much easier said than done, but having the right cybersecurity management plan can encourage one. Nurturing a culture comes from within the organization and will require the involvement of everyone.
You must devise staff-friendly policies that encourage them to take part in proactive security.
Proactive security is critical here. The measure you take and the way you design the plan will dictate the outcome for you. Suppose you find yourself the security leader in your organization. In that case, you must ensure that everyone takes responsibility for the organization’s protection.
Schedule regular refresher sessions to keep everyone up to date on the latest security-related news and how it affects the business.
This part of the plan is limited only by your creativity. Be as imaginative as you can and get as many members of the organization involved as possible.
Recap and Closing Remarks
Security implementation does not have to be complicated. Designing and setting the plan in motion is crucial to maintaining a secure information system.
And, don’t we all love it when a plan comes together?
So bring your A-team and:
- Evaluate your current security environment
- Evaluate the risks of the gaps in your security
- Unite the people and security processes
- Implement Security Controls
- Monitor and log your strategy
- Nurture a security culture
Don’t wait; get your cybersecurity management plan in action today.
If you are struggling to stay on top of the changing threat environment, get in contact with RSI Security today.
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