How to Design A Strong Cybersecurity Strategy for Your Enterprise

cybersecurity strategy

Selecting a cybersecurity solution, such as an endpoint protection platform, is one of the most critical decisions your enterprise will make as it moves into the modern era. The digital marketplace has become the marketplace where enterprises live or die. Just like how your business enforces its physical security, you must enforce your digital security if you intend to survive.

Yet a cybersecurity solution by itself is not enough. It must be matched by an equally strong cybersecurity strategy—one reflected throughout your enterprise’s business processes and in your employees’ online behaviors. Without your employees and privileged users buying into your cybersecurity solution, it will be hampered by the very people it is meant to protect.

So you need to have a cybersecurity strategy that strengthens your solutions and perimeter. But how?   

Take Cybersecurity Seriously, From the Top Down

According to a recent ASUG survey, executives’ security concerns ranked 55% lower than those of their IT employees. This translates to CEOs failing to take preventative actions regarding their enterprise’s cybersecurity.

However, a data breach won’t just negatively affect your IT employees. It can and will damage your short and long-term finances as it permanently shakes consumer confidence, adds legal fees and recompense to your overhead, and otherwise tarnishes your reputation. Your CEOs must take note of the consequences of their negligence—a cybersecurity failure could be taken as an indication of their leadership.

Your enterprise’s cybersecurity strategy must start from the top down. Your executives not only decide the overall direction of the business—which must include cybersecurity—they serve as exemplars for the rest of your business. If they don’t take these digital concerns seriously, why would your employees?   

Make Your Cybersecurity Strategy All-Encompassing

Did you know that insider threats now constitute ¾ of all cyber attacks?

Yes, insider threats are on the rise. Yet the fears of malicious external actors tend to dominate the everyday conversations on cybersecurity, pushing insider threats to the sidelines.

A strong cybersecurity strategy can’t get caught up in the hype of headlines or in popular perceptions. Your strategy must be ready for internal and external threats, regardless of their scale, form, or target. Exclusively focusing on one or the other is a recipe for disaster.

Part of forming the most comprehensive cybersecurity strategy is to recognize that no one solution alone can solve all of the problems your enterprise faces or maintain a strong IT perimeter. For example, access creep, a symptom of the absence of access management or identity governance, can affect your security perimeter by essentially rotting it from within.

Whether this rot is intentional or completely accidental is irrelevant. Your endpoint security needs to be paired with a strong IGA solution to prevent this rot from damaging your enterprise long term, and vice versa.

Another way to improve your cybersecurity strategy is to make sure you have a full understanding of your network and digital environment overall. This can involve:

  • Understanding exactly what devices belong to your enterprises’ digital network. Mobile devices (enterprise-issued or employee-owned) can be hidden or lost from your endpoint security. Additionally, your strategy must account for IoT devices.
  • Understanding where your most important digital assets and databases are located, what they contain, and who should and shouldn’t have access to them.
  • Determining the current strength of your cybersecurity strategy and solutions, determining where it must be improved, and working to patch any security holes.
  • Knowing the most likely threats your enterprise will face, given its industry and resources.

To put it simply, by making your cybersecurity strategy all-encompassing rather fixed on particular issues, you’ll be able to make better solution choices long-term.     

Making The Strategy Planning Inclusive

The voices involved in building your cybersecurity strategy must be as varied as your enterprise departments. After all, they will all be affected by whatever strategy you create. Relegating your cybersecurity strategy to your IT department or a security team is a fast way to limit your own effectiveness at preventing and detecting threats.

While your IT security department must absolutely be a part of any cybersecurity strategy planning—they understand the most pressing threats to your enterprise and its digital network—they may not know how certain policies, solutions, or demands might affect the business processes of other departments. If a rule is unenforceable without destroying lines of communication, then your strategy is in fact not secure at all. Employees may choose to ignore your cybersecurity strategy or create vulnerable workarounds in order to perform their own jobs, rendering your solution moot.

Instead, involve the rest of the departments in the strategy conversation. Your IT security team can set the perimeters of what is and is not acceptable in terms of risk or business processes, but you can find where employees may need special permissions or accommodations in order to stay both safe and productive.

Cybersecurity doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It affects the entire business. So your cybersecurity strategy needs to consider the entire business as well.

Communicate Your Cybersecurity Strategy

One of the most obvious and most forgotten truths about cybersecurity: Your cybersecurity strategy will depend on the willing and active participation of your entire enterprise.

This, of course, implies that your enterprise as a whole knows your cybersecurity strategy.

Employees might understand digital risks and might try to monitor their own behavior to reduce them, but may not know what to do if they fall victim to a phishing scam or a ransomware attack. Do they know how to contact members of your security team? Do they even know who those members are, or who would be the point of contact for a question versus an alert?  

Training your employees in your cybersecurity strategy is a vital part of it, and this includes having an Incident Response Plan in place. This will help employees know how to recognize a threat, who to contact in case of a threat, and what to do if they believe their endpoint is compromised.

As part of your training, your employees should also know that you value following the Incident Response Plan more than perfect digital behavior; employees shouldn’t be afraid to report falling for a phishing attack for fear of losing their jobs. Time is of the essence for any attack, and your employees should know how important their own clear communication is…for them and for you.      

The Key is Constant Revisions    

Nothing in cybersecurity is set in stone or a set-it-and-forget-it affair. Threats constantly evolve. Hacker tactics change. Solutions develop new security protocols and capabilities. Thus your cybersecurity strategy must be just as flexible to accommodate the changes yet to come.

Your IT security team should constantly examine and refine your cybersecurity strategy to make sure it is functioning as optimally as possible. Don’t be reluctant about changing your strategy if something isn’t working.

To borrow a phrase, your cybersecurity strategy needs to be rubber, not stone. Stone might be hard, but it shatters with enough force. Rubber may seem weaker, but it can take and roll with blows. It takes new shapes as demanded…and never truly breaks.  

Other Resources: 

Gartner’s 2018 Magic Quadrant for Endpoint Protection Platforms (EPP): What’s Changed?

4 Tips For Endpoint Security Solutions (That Everyone Forgets)

Endpoint Security Advice for the CISO on the Go!

Endpoint Security vs Legacy Antivirus: What’s the Difference?

Comparing the Top Endpoint Security Vendors — Solutions Review

Answering the Top 4 Enterprise Endpoint Security Questions

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR): The Way of the Future?

What Can We Expect for the Future of Endpoint Security?

Six Endpoint Security Vendors to Watch in 2018

The 25 Best Endpoint Security Platforms and Tools of 2018

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Ben Canner

Editor, Cybersecurity at Solutions Review
Ben Canner is an enterprise technology writer and analyst covering Identity Management, SIEM, Endpoint Protection, and Cybersecurity writ large. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Clark University in Worcester, MA. He previously worked as a corporate blogger and ghost writer. You can reach him via Twitter and LinkedIn.
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