Technology is evolving quickly. Keeping up with all the changes can be challenging. It used to be that traditional antivirus software was enough to protect your sensitive data. Unfortunately, that isn’t a sound cybersecurity strategy. 

To prioritize cybersecurity, your company needs to restrict control access to your networks, run break-in drills, and keep your applications and software updated. In other words, you need a cybersecurity plan. 

A good cybersecurity plan should include documentation, a change in mindset, and strategy. If your business hasn’t invested in a cybersecurity plan, you’re putting your sensitive data at risk. Let’s look at why having a cybersecurity plan in place is essential and how to develop a cybersecurity strategy that ultimately leads to that plan.

What is a Cybersecurity Plan?

The documentation in a cybersecurity plan should include agreed-upon policies, procedures, and controls to protect against cyber threats, risks, and vulnerabilities. Your cybersecurity plan should outline the steps to respond to a breach and how to get back up and running post-incident. More importantly, it should provide a roadmap to prevent attacks from happening in the first place.

When discussing a change in mindset, we’re talking about going from a reactive to a proactive stance regarding cybersecurity. In the past, just using a traditional antivirus program would cover most of the threats your business could encounter. Today’s hackers are much more sophisticated, so your business needs a proactive strategy.

The strategy should include a plan for the next 1-2 years. Many will say 3-5 years, but technology changes fast. Your team will want to understand the threats your company could face, get serious about your current cybersecurity maturity, and then determine how to improve. 

Why are Cybersecurity Strategies Important?

Putting together a cybersecurity strategy is vital because you will put your business at risk without one. If an attack happens, the repercussions include financial loss and a massive blow to the company’s reputation, including the reputation of leadership.  

Cyberattacks are the new normal. Creating and implementing a cybersecurity plan is no longer just a nice thing to have but more of a necessity – 43% of all businesses will become the target of a cyber breach. Developing a strategy allows your company to respond quickly, giving you actionable steps to help prevent an attack.

If a security breach happens, the financial loss and loss of reputation can ruin the business. Studies have found that 70% of consumers are likely to switch providers after a data breach, regardless of who is at fault. The cost of a breach may include loss of revenue, money paid out in ransom, and legal and PR expenses. 

What Policies Should a Cybersecurity Strategy Include?

As you’re preparing to create a cybersecurity plan, you want to consider making the following policies. Below are the policies and what you might include. 

Data Security Policies

  • Protects all data used, managed, and stored by your company
  • Sometimes referred to as an information security policy or ISP
  • Specifies how customer data, employee PII, and other sensitive information are to be handled

Workstation Policies

  • You define rules intended to reduce the risk of data loss or exposure through workstations
  • May include workstation encryption or that workstations are locked when not in use
  • Requires endpoints to have their operation system patched monthly

Acceptable Use Policy

  • Restricts how the network, websites, or systems may be used
  • Sets guidelines as to how network systems should be used

Clean Desk Policy

  • It involves removing any sensitive business information from your desk every day
  • Includes: USB sticks, notebooks, business cards, and even printed documents
  • It also consists of logging off devices anytime an employee walks away from their desk

Remote Access Policy

  • Documents how remote employees can connect to the internal network securely
  • Allows for security teams to control the network access and prevent cyberattacks 

Natural Disasters

  • Documents the process of how your company will safeguard data during earthquakes, fires, and other natural disasters

8 Steps to Creating a Cybersecurity Strategy

When creating a cybersecurity plan, outline the employee’s responsibilities and duties regarding data protection. Remember that technology is evolving quickly, so the plan needs to be reviewed occasionally to keep up with changes. Here are eight steps to help you complete your first cybersecurity strategy and plan. 

Step 1: Conduct a Security Risk Assessment

When assessing, you will identify assets to protect and potential threats to those assets, classify data, and establish risk prioritization. 

Step 2: Set Your Security Goals

Utilize the CIA triad to develop your security goals. CIA stands for Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. Ask yourself:

  • What sensitive data needs to be private?
  • How do you preserve the integrity of that data?
  • How is data made available to authorized users?

Step 3: Evaluate Your Technology

Create a realistic map of your current IT environment. Some critical pieces to consider:

  • What devices are nearing their end-of-life period?
  • Identify the operating systems used within the network, including servers, desktops, and laptops.
  • Remove any duplicated services provided by different systems.

Step 4: Select a Security Framework

There are a few options available for security frameworks, including ISO 27001, GDPR, and HIPPA. ONE 2 ONE utilizes the NIST framework when assessing plans for our clients. 

NIST is one of the industry-leading frameworks and helps companies become HIPPA compliant. NIST works with five core elements: Protect, Identify, Detect, Recover, and Respond

Step 5: Review Security Policies

Reviewing security policies is always recommended. Policies should be checked frequently. But to get started, consider the following:

  • Communicate policy changes to all teams and employees
  • Keep track of policies in one location
  • Review policies annually to continue making improvements 

Step 6: Create a Risk Management Plan

The risk management plan is the piece of your strategy supporting the company’s stance regarding cybersecurity and protecting data from theft or loss. 

In the plan, you should identify the most valuable digital assets, audit the company’s data and intellectual property, perform a cyber risk assessment, analyze security and threat levels, and create an incident response plan. 

Step 7: Implement Your Security Strategy

Now, you’re ready to use all the data you’ve gathered and put into practice. 

  • Implement your plan in a layered approach
  • Make sure all internal teams discuss the plan and assign remediation tasks
  • Create milestones and track completed projects

Step 8: Evaluate Your Security Strategy

Harking back to step 5, testing and evaluating should be ongoing. Technology changes fast. You can’t have a ‘set it and forget it’ approach to your IT security. Remember, we’re changing our mindset from reactive to proactive. 

  • Create internal stakeholders from various business functions/teams
  • Perform annual risk assessments
  • Ask for feedback from internal and external stakeholders

Still Have Questions?

We just covered a lot of information. It can seem overwhelming. But setting up a cybersecurity strategy isn’t that hard. You have to take the first step, and we’re here to help you through the process. 

Let’s have a conversation about your strategy and plan.

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