Positioning Your Cybersecurity Program for Success
Blog Article Published: 07/11/2023
Originally published by CAS Assurance.
Increasing pressure for success
It is not a secret that many organizations are increasing spending on cybersecurity. A research by Enterprise Strategic Group shows that 65% of organizations planned to increase cybersecurity spending in 2023. The research further shows that 40% of respondents claim that improving cybersecurity is the most important justification for IT investments in 2023.
Given the increasing demand on organization’s resources for cybersecurity in the face of ever growing sophistication of cyber-attacks, it is important for any organization to position their cybersecurity program for success. According to Forbes, the emerging digital ecosystem is treacherous; every company is now a reachable target, and every company, large or small, has operations, brand, reputation, and revenue pipelines that are potentially at risk from a breach.The question then becomes, how do you position your organization’s cybersecurity program for success? In this article, we briefly look at the challenges and obstacles to having a successful cybersecurity program. For the identified obstacles, we provide recommendations to conquering them in order to achieve desired success. By the way, what does cybersecurity program success mean? The success of a cybersecurity program is determined by its ability to effectively protect an organization’s information and financial assets from possible threats by mitigating risks through:
- Proactive detection and response to security threats
- Prevention of security incidents
- Minimization of the impact of security breaches
- Facilitation of compliance with relevant regulatory requirements, such as PCI-DSS, HIPAA, and GDPR
Obstacles to cybersecurity program success
What are the challenges that could stall or frustrate the success of the investments in cybersecurity programs? The following are top on the list of those challenges:
- Poor or lack of buy-in from relevant stakeholders. When cybersecurity program is viewed by an organization personnel and senior management as purely an IT and Security department’s responsibility, there is a major problem. Without the genuine involvement and participation of personnel, senior management, and other relevant stakeholders (including vendors and contractors), cybersecurity program will fail.
- Poor leadership and oversight. When senior management does not own cybersecurity program as part of their tools for achieving organizational success, and thus fails to provide the needed leadership and oversight responsibilities, cybersecurity program will rarely succeed.
- Poor planning and implementation. This may include lack of clear goals and objectives for the program, inadequate risk assessment, resource starvation, using poor tools and methodology for implementation, and insufficient training and awareness for stakeholders. If these potential problems are not well addressed, the program will fail to achieve desirable results.
- Poor integration into business processes. If cybersecurity program is seen as a stand-alone technical endeavor, rather than being integrated into the organization’s business processes, the program will not achieve optimum success.
- Poor monitoring and maintenance. When cybersecurity program is not well monitored, regularly assessed, and continuously improved to keep it relevant, current, and effective, the program will most likely become a white elephant project.
Recommendations for success
What do we recommend for positioning your organization’s cybersecurity program for success? Our recommendations, as would naturally be expected, are focused on overcoming the obstacles itemized above. Thus, for your organization’s cybersecurity program to achieve success, you must facilitate and ensure:
- Adequate buy-in from all relevant stakeholders. Employees, contractors, senior management, vendors, business partners, technical and non-technical people that have any part to play in the success of the program must be involved in the implementation and operation of the program. Each participant should have a clear picture of the objectives of the program, understand and accept their respective responsibilities for achieving those objectives.
- Strong leadership and oversight. If they are not already, senior management needs to be convinced that having an effective cybersecurity program is a strategic business objective that generates competitive advantage in today’s market place. Senior management must therefore own the leadership and oversight of the program with a strong passion for its success.
- Thorough planning and implementation. In addition to setting clear goals for the program and “selling” those goals to the stakeholders, there must be a thorough risk assessment, risk analysis, and appropriate risk treatments selection. Further, there must be adequate allocation of needed resources, selection and deployment of efficient implementation tools and methodology (including technology solutions and information security framework or standard to be adopted), and adequate cybersecurity training and awareness program for personnel.
- Sufficient integration into business processes. The culture and activities for the security of organization’s resources and the protection of its reputation must be woven into business processes across the enterprise. This way, it becomes a team work. And working together as a team towards a clear common goal will facilitate optimum success. Achieving integration into business processes should not be too difficult if all the relevant stakeholders are identified and involved, risks inherent in each business process are identified, and appropriate risk treatments are implemented.
- Sustained monitoring and maintenance. The relevance, adequacy and effectiveness of the program must be regularly monitored and evaluated to ensure that necessary adjustments and improvement are introduced to facilitate continued achievement of the objectives. Leveraging information security frameworks and standards such as ISO/IEC 27001:2022 International Standard, AICPA System and Organization Controls (SOC 2), and Cloud Security Alliance’s Cloud Control Matrix (CCM) combined with its STAR program (each of these requires regular assessment) will facilitate sustained monitoring and maintenance of cybersecurity program.
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