Building a Cybersecurity Roadmap: How to Build & Develop a Comprehensive Security Strategy

How to Develop an Effective Cyber security Strategy

Building a cyber security roadmap is extremely important in today’s digital age. Not only does it give your IT security team direction, but it also provides a foundation from where to build and develop a comprehensive security strategy.  

Organisations of all sizes have now realised what kind of damage cyberattacks and data breaches can cause to their operations, revenue, and reputation. While investing in security controls like multi-factor authentication, monitoring tools, and other security best practices are important, any sound business will always have a cyber security strategy in place. 

What Is a Cyber Security Strategy?  

A cyber security strategy is a plan that involves incorporating security best practices to protect a business from both external and internal threats. A cyber security strategy also provides a baseline for an organisation’s security program which allows it to constantly adapt to emerging risks and threats. 

Any successful business today will have a cyber security strategy in place with a well-defined roadmap to address any future security requirements. A cyber security strategy is a high-level plan for how your organisation will secure its assets and reduce cyberattacks. Let’s take a closer look. 

What should a cyber security strategy include? 

A cyber security strategy should include many things but there are five main elements that an effective cyber security strategy should include: Security awareness, risk prevention, data management, establish network security and access control, and regularly monitor and review security measures.  

Cyber Security Strategy for Enterprise vs Small Business 

A cyber security strategy is a high-level plan that will allow either enterprise or small businesses to secure their assets during a certain timeframe. That timescale could be anywhere from between one or two years to three, four or five years. It is a strategy that provides a roadmap, a guideline but one that can be adapted when needed. A cyber security strategy will never be perfect, but it will provide a direction in which your business should head and a framework in which it should follow. A cyber security strategy should always evolve as your business and the world around it evolves. 

How a cyber security strategy differs between enterprise and small business 

Small businesses are at a much higher risk of falling victim to a cyberattack than enterprise because they don’t tend to have the same resources to invest in cybersecurity. However, although larger organisations have greater budgets, they still don’t seem to be investing what they should in cybersecurity. Basically, businesses of all sizes cannot afford not to have a strong cyber security strategy in place in 2023 and beyond.  

The main differences between a small business and a large organisation are the number of employees and the revenue. All different sizes and types of organisation can become the target of malicious actors. Therefore, a cyber security strategy should be implemented within all businesses to protect their assets.  

It goes without saying that enterprise has a larger amount of data to secure which, in turn, will require a larger IT investment to secure that data. However, threat actors don’t tend to discriminate against the number of employees or the size of the organisation when they are targeting a business via the likes of phishing or ransomware. Larger organisations also prove more valuable to hackers due to having more valuable assets and a greater amount of data to target. Therefore, big revenue generating businesses are prime targets for cyberattacks. 

The downside for small businesses can also come in the aftermath of an attack. Not only can they be poorly protected in the first place but can lack the adequate resources after an attack has taken place. This can present itself in the small number of IT staff, lack of budget, no cyber insurance or being unable to pay out during a ransomware attack. Therefore, a cyber security strategy is equally important to both large enterprise and small businesses. You can read about cybersecurity for startups in our previous blog.

What is a basic cyber security strategy? 

A basic cyber security strategy is an action plan detailing how a business should protect itself from threats. A cyber security strategy provides a blueprint for what to prioritise in order to have a secure and safe cyber environment. 

What are the three pillars of a cyber security strategy? 

The strongest cyber security strategies are built on the three pillars of cybersecurity: People, process, and technology. Each pillar is equally as important as the other and critical in keeping your business secure in an ever evolving and complex threat landscape. 

Why Are Cyber Security Strategies Important? 

Devising a cyber security strategy and incorporating it within your business is more important now than ever before. Not only has the number of security-related incidents increased but the methods used by malicious actors have become more sophisticated in nature. What’s more, today’s technological advancements, including the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, make it extremely easy for malicious actors to target organisations of any size. 

According to the FBI, cyber security incidents increased by more than 400% during the pandemic. The average ransomware payment also increased by 82% to US$572,000 in 2021 and up to US$812,360 in 2022. This trend is expected to increase year-on-year and is unlikely to slow down any time soon. There is also the element of privacy regulations, rules, and guidelines that businesses must follow in certain industries and sectors. Ensuring that your business is compliant is key to reducing costs and protecting your assets.  

All of the above only underlines the importance of creating and implementing a cyber security strategy within your business.  

8 Steps to Develop a Cyber Security Plan 

Developing a cyber security strategy can be a complex task which includes several different elements in order to succeed. This can include conducting a security risk assessment, setting security goals, evaluating your technology and more. What that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the 8 steps to develop a cyber security plan:  

1. Conduct A Security Risk Assessment 

Security risk assessments identify, assess, and prioritise risk to the function, mission, reputation, and image of an organisation. A security risk assessment will also check organisational assets, third-party vendors, individuals, and nation-states for the risks they pose. Conducting a security risk assessment helps to inform decision-makers and support risk responses. Executives at board level are often unable to delve into the cyber practices within their organisations. Therefore, a security risk assessment will serve as an executive summary to help companies make informed decisions about their security posture

2. Set Your Security Goals 

When devising a cyber security strategy, it’s extremely important to set your security goals. Aiming for a specific set of aims not only ensures that you’re heading in the right direction but provides an important checklist of tasks to complete. Security goals can be as basic as setting multi-factor passwords, the use of biometrics or installing a firewall, to more complex features like restructuring your entire IT team, changing software or hardware, improving endpoint security and more. It’s also very important to remember that there are the “five Cs of cyber security”, or the five areas that are most important for an organisation to cover: change, compliance, cost, coverage, and continuity. 

To aid IT security experts when devising their cyber security plans, the Central Intelligence Agency came up with the CIA triad which is an information security model comprised of three main components: confidentiality, integrity, and availability. The U.S. Department of Defence went a few steps further and upgraded that notion to the “Five Pillars of Information Assurance Model” that includes the protection of confidentiality, integrity, availability, authenticity, and non-repudiation of user data. As long as your cyber security security strategy achieves those goals your business should be in top cyber security shape.  

3. Evaluate Your Technology 

The cyber security technology field is crowded. Not only are some poorer performers than others but one of the biggest problems is finding the right solution for your business. What might work for one business might not work for another. Evaluating your technology is fundamentally important to determine whether what you are using does the job at hand. This cuts down on costs and saves time and resources on already overloaded IT security teams.  

There are five main points to consider when evaluating your technology and to ensure that they are correctly serving your network and your teams. Let’s take a closer look: 

  • Is the technology reactive or proactive? 

A proactive technology is one sitting before a successful breach or “left of boom”. Most recent cyber security technology sits “right of boom” which means it responds to and mitigates the effects of breaches that have already happened. The aim here is to focus on increasing “left of boom” technology. 

  • How much cyber intelligence is the technology able to leverage? 

The key word here is intelligence. Common sense dictates that the more “intelligent” the technology is, the better it will perform. The future is intelligence driven be it human, artificial, or in the cyber world. The value of data and intelligence has never been as important as it is now, especially in the fight against cybercrime. 

  • Is the technology autonomous? 

Ensuring a technology is truly autonomous is key. Many technologies today claim to be just that but are they really? How many hours does it take employees to manage logs or alerts? How much work does your staff force have to do on top? What are the expenses and time spent on managing “autonomous” technologies? It’s important to ask yourself these questions when considering autonomous technologies for your business. 

  • Can the technology scale? 

Malicious actors are adapting their methods daily. The technologies we use must be able to grow and adapt to these threats. Not only that but as the business grows, the technology we use must be able to grow with it and provide the same level of protection no matter the size or the different ways in which it expands.  

  • Can any new technology sync with existing technology? 

It’s important to ensure that new technology syncs with the existing technology so that there are no gaps, and all bases are covered. Any new technology considered should not only be a neutral addition to the security stack, but a benefit to the other technologies already in use and for the people managing them.   

4. Select A Security Framework 

A security framework provides IT security teams with a set of standards and a common language across industries and borders to understand security postures. With a security framework in place, it can help define the processes and procedures that your organisation takes to monitor, assess, and mitigate cyber security risk.  

There are many different types of cyber security frameworks in existence. The most common being the NIST Cybersecurity Framework which was created through collaboration between industry and government. This voluntary cyber security framework consists of standards, guidelines, and practices to promote the protection of critical infrastructure, including third-party risk. Other common cyber security frameworks include ISO 27001 and ISO 27002 certification, SOC2 cyber security framework, NERC-CIP, HIPAA, GDPR, FISMA, and more. 

5. Review Security Policies 

A cyber security policy is key to helping your organisation stay ahead of threats. Not only does it help keep information secure, but it also ensures that your organisation meets regulatory requirements and allows employees to make informed decisions when faced with risk. However, it’s very easy for these types of policies to become out of date as technology shifts and the methods of hackers become more sophisticated in nature. 

The measures in place to prevent and respond to data loss must remain effective at all times. 

A cyber security policy will strengthen your organisation as a whole by uncovering issues that could create vulnerabilities, help you to prioritise steps to mitigate risk, and aid in the development of an actionable remediation plan

6. Create A Risk Management Plan 

A risk management plan enables organisations to manage their own cyber risk as well as ensuring their suppliers and third-party partners meet certain requirements. A robust cyber security risk management strategy allows businesses to assess their security posture and identify areas for improvement. Following best practices for cyber risk management and keeping on top of the newest cyber security challenges allows businesses to remain active and avoid cyberattacks.  

7. Implement Your Security Strategy 

Implementing your security strategy is the most important step in building a successful cyber security roadmap. Your security strategy should detail exactly when and how the selected cyber security controls will be implemented. Implementing a cyber security plan will depend on the security controls selected. The cyber security framework chosen will help develop your implementation plan. The strategy will be implemented using a layered approach. Internal teams first discuss the plans then assign remediation tasks accordingly. A project manager will lead the project, create milestones for the tasks, and track the work undertaken to ensure the strategy is realised.  

8. Evaluate Your Security Strategy 

Once your security strategy has been implemented, it is important to evaluate and update it regularly. Not only will this ensure that the strategy remains effective but also that it remains relevant. A security strategy must be monitored and tested regularly to ensure that the goals of the strategy align with the threat landscape. A cyber security strategy must always be up to date so that your business is able to deal with any new threat that may arise. Businesses are able to update their cyber security strategy by conducting regular risk assessments.  

What to Avoid When Implementing Your Cyber Security Strategy 

Implementing a cyber security strategy can be a daunting task. It’s therefore fundamentally important to avoid certain pitfalls when implementing your cyber security strategy. The following are the most common areas that should be avoided: 

  • Falling for common threats  
  • No training for employees  
  • Not creating strong passwords  
  • Denial of common cyber threats  
  • Neglecting software updates
  • No cyber security policy  
  • Not protecting your business data  

How can RiskXchange help with your Cybersecurity 

RiskXchange works with different business and technical partners to provide the vendor security solutions your business needs anywhere in the world. RiskXchange is the only platform that provides a complete 360-degree view of your attack surface, including that of your vendors. It will monitor your complete attack surface, highlight any risk, and enable you to fix any issues before the attacker discovers them. 

RiskXchange can monitor your attack surface continuously to prevent data breaches, information leakage, as well as discover and report on a wide range of cyber security issues. We can gain a security rating, understand risk, and continuously monitor the security posture of any company worldwide. You can also protect your brand and business with the RiskXchange fully integrated Digital Risk Protection feature. 

Get in touch with RiskXchange to find out how to build and develop a comprehensive security strategy for your business.