How To Develop a Cyber Security Strategy

The cyber threat landscape is rapidly evolving, and every business is at risk. With growing automation and more active cyber threat actors, no organization is “too small to be a target”. Every company has data that could be of value to an attacker or that could fetch a ransom if encrypted by ransomware. One in forty companies worldwide were impacted by ransomware in 2021, a 59% increase from the previous year.

An organization’s level of cyber risk depends on various factors. While the size of the organization and the industry in which it operates play a role, so do the corporate security strategy and current cybersecurity solution architecture.

Every company will be targeted by cyberattacks, and business continuity is dependent on an organization’s ability to respond appropriately to these threats. A cybersecurity strategy is an organization’s plan for reducing its cyber risk and protecting against the cyber pandemic.

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How to Build a Cyber Security Strategy For Your Business

A corporate cybersecurity strategy should be tailored to an organization’s unique security needs. Small, medium, and large businesses in different industries and locations can face very different threats and have different security requirements. Here, we’ve compiled six steps to start you on your journey to developing and implementing an effective cybersecurity strategy.

#1. Understand the cyber threat landscape

Every organization faces a unique cyber threat landscape that depends on various factors. From year to year, cyber threat actors focus their efforts on different types of attacks, such as the recent surge in ransomware campaigns. An organization’s industry and location plays a significant role as certain threat actors target certain industries or geographic areas. A company’s exposure to cyber threats can also be affected by other factors, such as whether it has cloud-based infrastructure, if IoT systems are connected to the corporate network,  or the types of data available about it on the Internet and the Dark Web.

An effective cybersecurity strategy requires a clear understanding of the cyber threats that an organization is likely to face.  Companies can gain insight into potential threats from various sources, including:

  • Past attacks against the business
  • Attacks against other businesses in the industry
  • Threat intelligence feeds

After identifying the threats that it is likely to face, an organization can develop strategies for preventing and protecting against them. Cybersecurity solutions, processes, and procedures can then be deployed to maximize their impact on the company’s risk exposure.  For example, deploying anti-ransomware defenses should be a major priority in the current cyber threat landscape.

#2. Assess your cybersecurity maturity

The average organization devotes about 21% of its IT budget to cybersecurity, so the resources available to an SMB’s security program differ significantly from those of a Fortune 500 company. The age of the company, resource availability, regulatory requirements, and other factors can all impact an organization’s cybersecurity maturity. These varying levels of maturity affect the probability that an organization will suffer a successful attack and its impact on the company.

A cybersecurity maturity assessment starts with an inventory of an organization’s IT infrastructure. Understanding what IT assets the company owns and the types of data that it collects, stores, and processes provides insight into the types of security risks that the organization needs to manage. For example, an organization that processes high-value financial or healthcare data needs to implement more stringent data privacy and classification security controls than one with less sensitive data. Also, different types of IT devices and infrastructure face different security risks that must be managed.

After identifying an organization’s assets and their associated threats and risks, a company can start comparing the security controls that it has in place against what is needed to protect those assets. When evaluating security maturity, compliance standards, frameworks, and benchmarks can be useful tools.

#3. Leverage Security Benchmarks and Compliance Standards

Developing an effective security strategy can seem overwhelming. However, organizations don’t need to start from scratch. Many resources exist that provide guidance on how to implement security best practices and develop an effective security strategy for an organization.

The security benchmarks, standards, and frameworks that an organization may choose to adopt depend on the goals of its security program. In many cases, companies are subject to various regulations that mandate how they should secure sensitive data. For example, healthcare information in the United States is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accessibility Act (HIPAA), the data of payment card holders falls under the jurisdiction of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), and other data privacy laws like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) protect other populations or types of data.

Companies may also choose to pursue compliance with an optional standard such as ISO 27001 or SOC2.  If an organization is subject to these regulations, then the required security controls outlined by the standards are a good starting point for a cybersecurity strategy.

If an organization’s security policy is internally-driven, numerous standards and frameworks exist to help with this and can also support compliance efforts. Some examples include the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF) and the Center for Internet Security (CIS) Top 20 Controls. These standards include cybersecurity best practices and enable an organization to align its security strategy with regulations like HIPAA and PCI DSS as well.

#5. Leverage Both Prevention and Detection Methods

With a detection-focused security strategy, an organization deploys cybersecurity solutions that are designed to identify a potential threat and trigger incident response. However, while threat detection is a useful component of a cybersecurity strategy, it is inherently reactive. By the time an organization takes action, the threat already exists and is potentially present on an organization’s systems, providing an attacker with the opportunity to steal data, cause damage, or take other malicious actions.

An effective cybersecurity strategy focuses on threat prevention rather than threat detection. By identifying the various ways in which an organization can be attacked and closing these security gaps, an organization eliminates the potential risk and cost of an attack to the organization. Threat prevention solutions should be used wherever possible to eliminate threats and should be supported by detective technologies that enable an organization to identify and respond to attacks that slip through the gaps.

#5. Design a Cyber Security Architecture

An understanding of the cyber threat landscape and an organization’s current security maturity provides insight into the problems that a security strategy should address. Cybersecurity standards implemented via a prevention-focused approach provide guidance on doing so. With this information, a company can start designing a cybersecurity architecture.

A cybersecurity architecture should be designed based on security best practices. Some key concepts to incorporate include:

  • Zero Trust Security: Under a zero trust security model, every request for access to corporate resources is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Role-based access controls and other risk factors are evaluated to determine whether the request should be granted or denied. By implementing zero trust, an organization reduces cyber risk by making it much more difficult for a threat actor to use a compromised account or piece of software to achieve their goals without detection.
  • Defense in Depth: No security solution is perfect, and an attacker may be able to evade, bypass, or disable a single line of defense. Implementing multiple lines of defense increases the probability that an organization will be able to detect and respond to a threat before it causes damage to the business.

#6. Consolidate Security Infrastructure

One of the most common challenges that security teams face is overload and burnout due to a disconnected architecture of standalone security solutions. Each independent solution that an organization deploys in its network must be configured, maintained, and monitored to be effective. With limited personnel, the overhead associated with doing so leads to missed detections and visibility and security gaps.

An effective security strategy is backed by a consolidated security architecture. With an integrated security architecture, security analysts can monitor and manage their security infrastructure from a single location. This provides numerous benefits including:

  • Improved Visibility: A consolidated security architecture provides visibility into every part of an organization’s security architecture from a single dashboard. This eliminates the visibility gaps created by dividing security monitoring and management across multiple solutions’ dashboards.
  • Better Performance: A consolidated security architecture provides a single dashboard for security analysts to manage the complete security architecture. This eliminates the inefficiencies associated with context switching between multiple tools and manually aggregating and analyzing data from various sources.
  • Efficient Coverage: A consolidated security architecture is designed to provide comprehensive coverage of an organization’s security risks. This eliminates security gaps or redundant, overlapping functionality created by standalone security solutions.
  • Lower TCO: Security consolidation increases the efficiency of the security team and the security architecture This results in decreased total cost of ownership (TCO) by eliminating redundancy and inefficiencies.
  • Increased Automation: A consolidated security architecture links every component of an organization’s security infrastructure. This enables greater automation, allowing improved threat detection and coordinated responses to potential attacks.

Implementing a Cyber Security Strategy with Check Point

An effective security strategy helps to minimize the security risks that an organization faces. Creating an effective security strategy requires comprehensive visibility into an organization’s IT architecture, access to real-time threat intelligence, and a consolidated security architecture that efficiently and effectively manages these threats.

To learn more about the threats that your organization’s security strategy should address, check out Check Point’s 2022 Cyber Security Report. This report describes the current state of the cyber threat landscape and where companies should focus their security efforts.

Check Point’s Infinity Enterprise License Agreement (ELA) provides companies with the ability to implement a comprehensive, consolidated security architecture tailored to its unique needs. With Infinity ELA, your company can manage its entire security architecture under a single enterprise license. Find out more by signing up for a free Infinity ELA consultation.

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