What are the 5 steps in operational security? 

5 steps in operational security

Operational security (OPSEC), or procedural security as it’s also known, is a risk management process that managers use to view operations from an adversary perspective to protect sensitive and private information from falling into the hands of hackers. 

OPSEC, originally created by the military to ensure a sufficient level of security surrounds their systems, is now becoming a useful staple across the private sector. The OPSEC umbrella covers everything from monitoring habits and behaviours on social media sites to discouraging workers from sharing login details and passwords via text message or email

So, what are the 5 steps in operations security? Let’s take a closer look.  

The five steps of operational security 

The OPSEC process can be organised into five key steps: 

  1. Identify the company’s sensitive data 

When people ask what the 5 steps of operations security are, the first thing that comes to mind is securing the company’s sensitive data. This includes customer information, product research, financial statements, intellectual property, and employee information. These are the data points that will need to be the focus of protection within the company.  

  1. Identify potential threats 

Once you’ve pinpointed the areas that could be most at risk, you must identify all the potential threats. Not only could the threats come from third parties or outside the company, but you also need to be careful of insider threats, such as disgruntled employees or negligent workers.  

  1. Analyse vulnerabilities and holes in security 

Assess your current security posture and determine whether your current safeguards are adequate. Remember that any weaknesses will be targeted by malicious actors to gain access to company data, so security measures must always be at optimum level and continuously monitored

  1. Assess risk associated with each vulnerability 

You must then rank your vulnerabilities in order of importance. The factors should be broken down into how much damage could the company possibly suffer by this weakness, how much work would it take to rectify it, and how long would it take to recover from it. 

  1. Put countermeasures in place 

The final OPSEC step is to implement a plan to mitigate risks and eliminate threats within the company. You may have to update company hardware, create new policies surrounding sensitive data, and train workers on sound company policies and security practices to protect your most sensitive assets.  

Best practices in operational security 

Below, we have outlined the current best practices to incorporate within a comprehensive and robust operational security program: 

  • Incorporate precise change management processes that workers should follow when network changes are conducted. You must log all changes and make sure they are controlled so that they can be continuously monitored and audited. 
  • Use AAA authentication to restrict access to network devices. A “need-to-know” basis is the best option in regard to sharing of information and allocating access. Segmenting off blocks or permissions will help secure assets at different levels. Implement the principle of least privilege into practice.  
  • Utilising dual control is key. Ensure that those working on your network are not the same as those in charge of security. 
  • Reduce the need for human intervention by automating processes. Humans are the weakest link in any operational security initiative. Not only do they overlook details, but they also often make mistakes, bypass processes, and forget things. All of which could lead to millions in damages.  
  • Disaster recovery and incident response planning are both key components of a secure cybersecurity posture. Even if your operational security measures are at an optimum level, there must still be a plan in place to identify and respond to risks and mitigate any potential damages. 

What RiskXchange suggests 

Risk management is key to ensuring that you are able to identify vulnerabilities and threats before they become a problem. RiskXchange helps prevent breaches by monitoring your attack surface continuously across key domains – identifying critical security issues before hackers are able to. 

Not only does RiskXchange monitor your vendors continuously, but delivers automate security questionnaires, and reduces third and fourth-party risk. We also enable users to monitor cybersecurity ratings, add vendors or partner organisations easily, and report on the health of their cybersecurity programs and compliance. 

You can defend your organisation from threats to your digital systems and footprint with RiskXchange’s fully integrated Digital Risk Protection platform. The RiskXchange platform makes it easy to collaborate, reduce cyber risk, improve security maturity, and become compliant together. 
RiskXchange quantifies and proactively helps you mitigate cyber risk across your entire third-party and fourth-party vendors ecosystem by delivering real-time continuous risk analysis, and scoring of cyber risk using our advanced risk quantification methods. 

Get in touch with RiskXchange to find out more about the top 5 steps in operations security.