What is a cybersecurity posture and how do you assess it?

Security posture definition

Cybersecurity posture refers to the overall cybersecurity strength of an organisation. This posture reflects the security of an IT network, estate, or system, particularly relating to the internet and the defences in place to prevent an attack.

How an organisation’s software and hardware are managed through controls, policies or procedures are the main basis of cybersecurity. Although each one can be tackled individually, the collective and holistic approach of dealing with them as one is known as a cybersecurity posture.

Cybersecurity posture includes not only the condition of the IT infrastructure, but also the state of processes, practices, and human behaviours. Although the latter can be difficult to measure, observing such practices is crucial in ensuring a tight and secure cybersecurity posture. 

When managing cybersecurity for entities, organisations and individuals, decisions must be made based on the overall cybersecurity posture of the collective. Decision making on individual elements of your cybersecurity landscape is not enough, a holistic approach based on the overall cybersecurity posture is key. An overall assessment of risk and the elements that define the interaction of virtual, physical, and human factors help define and ultimately strengthen a cybersecurity posture. 

What does a cybersecurity posture allow?

A cybersecurity posture allows you the ability to conduct the following:

  • Take a holistic approach to help determine the likelihood of a breach, rather than take an individualistic look at each element which will not necessarily provide an accurate risk assessment
  • Take control and investigate third-party vendors to be able to evaluate the risk to your network or system.
  • Take stock of your risk factors, determining what risk you choose to accept, mitigate, or transfer to an insurer. 
  • Compare your cybersecurity posture to other organisations in the industry.
  • Prioritise actions, investments, and partners with a complete picture of potential risks. 

Cybersecurity posture assessment

Understanding your company’s cybersecurity posture is key to defending your organisation against cyberattacks and costly data breaches. By determining where your organisation is most vulnerable you can establish a plan for developing a more secure environment. 

Constantly monitoring and maintaining your cybersecurity posture is key to staying on top of any potential breaches. Threat actors are constantly finding new ways of being able to infiltrate a system, so staying one step ahead of them by maintaining a healthy cybersecurity posture is fundamentally important. 

Collectively grouping policies or systems, workplace culture, risk-analysis programs and employee education are an extremely important part of the process. Being able to identify vulnerabilities will help a proactive response as opposed to reacting to cybersecurity threats retrospectively. Failing to do so can result in data breaches, cyberattack, loss in revenue and reputational damage. 

Step one of security posture assessment

Identifying your business needs and objectives is the first step in evaluating your cybersecurity posture. Taking these approaches is a fundamental part of building your security framework. This will differ depending on the organisation and what their focus is. For example, if remote working is a focus of your organisation then security policies geared toward mobile devices and remote network access will be the priority. The first stage of cybersecurity posture should always be to defend the organisation against attack. 

Step two of security posture assessment

The next step should be to focus on developing a risk management program to list assets from least to most vulnerable to create a cybersecurity posture rating. After identifying points of vulnerability, a cybersecurity framework can be laid out as well as implementing processes or systems that can minimise security risk. 

Step three of security posture assessment

Strengthening your cybersecurity posture should extend far beyond the IT department of your organisation. Educating employees on workplace culture, roles and responsibilities and cybersecurity best practices helps them when it comes to protecting sensitive information. Third-party vendor assessments are also extremely important at this stage to determine what their vulnerabilities are and what damage they could potentially cause to your organisation. 

How RiskXchange can help improve your cybersecurity posture

RiskXchange uses data-driven insights to prevent breaches, helping organisations of all sizes pinpoint weaknesses to bolster their cybersecurity posture and to improve information security measures. With full visibility over your eco-systems’ entire attack surface in near real-time, you can regularly monitor and mitigate risks to prevent unnecessary exposures. 

RiskXchange’s security risk ratings can help you protect your data and manage cyber hygiene in all cases. We offer continuous cybersecurity monitoring, providing real-time visibility of users and their devices on all applications, software, and device types. Our cybersecurity monitoring best practices give organisations the ability to continuously look over their network on a case-by-case basis to stay one step ahead of any cyber threats. 

Our security ratings give a calculated assessment of an organisation’s effectiveness on all aspects of security performance and to protect data. Cybersecurity ratings draw upon a range of data to analyse and inform, ultimately enabling organisations to objectively review and act upon its processes and the security measures it has in place.

More about RiskXchange

RiskXchange is an information security technology company, that helps companies of all sizes fight the threat of cyber threats by providing instant risk ratings for any company across the globe. RiskXchange was founded and is led by recognised experts within the security industry, who have held leading roles within companies such as IBM Security.