It is vital to understand your weaknesses through frequent cyber security assessments and audits. It is tough to endure cyber-attacks and defend your firm without them.
As the great Japanese novelist Shusaku Endo observed, “every weakness has within itself a strength.” Understanding your weaknesses allows you to focus on what needs to be done to strengthen your cyber security posture. To obtain the most bang for your buck in security technology and services, where should you put your precious IT budget? How do you determine where to direct your efforts in order to effectively avoid a data leak or a security breach? How do you handle cloud security in risk assessments, in addition to network security?
Defining “Periodic” and “Regular” Cyber Security Assessments and Audits
So, what do we mean by “frequently” and “on a regular basis”? Doing frequent evaluations means that they are not just done when they are required. In the government realm, for example, system certification was normally valid for three years. Because an evaluation was only necessary every three years for certification, it was often the only time they were done, despite the fact that this was ineffective against quickly emerging threats. I would recommend that you construct a strategy to analyse your most vital functions at least once a year, if not more frequently, regardless of the sort of company you work in.
When I talk about conducting a cyber security audit on a “regular basis,” I’m referring to a scheduled plan as well. For example, you can audit 25 percent of your security controls each quarter to work your way through the list over the course of the year. This can ensure that results stay current regardless of changes in your cyber environment. You can make adjustments to the schedule as needed, of course.
The point is to make sure your assessment and auditing activities stay on a generally agreed-upon schedule. You need to make that schedule is communicated to everyone involved in the process, too.
Identifying Critical Assets and Gaps in Your Defenses
As absurd as it may appear, many businesses have no idea what their most vital information is or where it is located. Before you try to find out all the ways internal and external factors might undermine your security, the first step should be to identify the information that is critical to your organization. This can assist you in allocating resources more efficiently and ensuring alignment with company goals and risk management activities. As an added bonus, you may better prioritize risks to focus on your company’s important assets.
Selecting, then implementing, cyber security policies to protect your company’s important information requires much thinking, preparation, and effort. But how can you know they’re doing their jobs correctly? And how do you know if there are any new threats? Completing timely and frequent evaluations, as well as auditing those controls, can provide you with such information.
How can you patch gaps in your security measures if you don’t know where they are? The fact is that you cannot. Regular evaluations will not only reveal gaps in your defenses and security architecture but will also confirm your attempts to address them. Regularly assessing and confirming this makes it easier to secure your network and lowers your risk.
Assessing Controls and Auditing for Compliance
After you’ve chosen and implemented the right controls, you must consider what comes next. This was covered in a recent post about lowering your security risk. Will they constantly maintain the same degree of risk control? What happens if the danger evolves? Every day, new malware variants are released, and bad actors are continually creating new attack techniques to break your defenses.
A simple re-evaluation can inform you if your controls are still performing as expected. Even a simple study of the documentation can tell you if what worked when a control was implemented is still enough now. For example, has your firm determined that scanning for new vulnerabilities once every two weeks is adequate to limit possible network risk? That is no longer an option. A new cyber weakness may now be exploited within hours by sophisticated attackers.
Auditing for compliance on a regular basis might also alert you to concerns you may have imagined were covered. Assume your policy requires all users to utilize multi-factor authentication when logging in. When you examine your company’s authentication procedure, you notice that this is waived for select personnel. This is clearly not in accordance with policy and should be noted and rectified.
Periodic evaluations and audits, when combined, can uncover previously undisclosed dangers. Perhaps the interval between scans was deemed an acceptable risk in isolation. When you factor in noncompliance with multi-factor authentication, your risk may have skyrocketed. At the very least, now that you’re aware of these flaws, you may factor them into your total risk assessment and acceptance judgments.
Next Steps: Addressing Weak Spots
Once you’ve decided on a risk strategy, there will be plenty to keep you occupied while you work to develop your company’s programme. Obviously, this will involve some work and may necessitate additional expenditures in people and technology solutions.
The good news is that if the company’s leadership has agreed to and prioritized that risk, obtaining the resources you require should be much easier. Prepare a business case if necessary and offer cost estimates that align with the risk reduction strategy so that they may be factored into the company’s financial goals and projections.
You’re all set now that you’ve established your strategy, put plans in place, and secured your resources, right? Almost, anyhow. While you may have individuals to assist you, are they the correct ones? You may have discovered challenges that necessitate skills and expertise that are outside the scope of your in-house team. But you know exactly what needs to be done since you have maintained a consistent schedule of cyber security assessments and audits. Because you now know exactly what needs to be done, you can hire extra workers or get training for existing employees. Given the shortage of qualified cyber security professionals, you may need to make the case for engaging consultants. Look for a business that has knowledge in areas where your team lacks.
Cyber security assessments and audits are not a panacea that will solve all your problems. There are still a lot of things to think about. And, of course, things will change, priorities will alter, and new challenges will emerge. However, knowing your talents and flaws is much more reassuring and far more controllable. With the right knowledge, leadership can more correctly assess business risk, devise a long-term plan, and secure the resources required to keep your firm safe.
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