5 Steps to an Effective Security Assessment

What should be included in my organization’s security assessment? This question has become particularly critical and more challenging thanks to many factors, including the increase in organizations undergoing digital transformations, the technologies comprising digital structures that support increasingly complex organizations, data outside of “work walls” and many employees and partners, and the continued Services Teleworking.

As businesses, infrastructures, and infrastructures all change, so must security. For example, where data used to reside in a data center, that data may now live in the cloud and in multiple locations. And due to the rapid migration of services and solutions to the cloud, improperly configured cloud services are quickly becoming one of the main causes of data breaches.

When assessing your company’s security posture, you need to identify internal and external security vulnerabilities across all critical devices, applications, and networks. We recommend a no-trust architecture, where by default no person, devices, or applications in an enterprise network should be trusted, regardless of whether it is an internal or external network. You also need to understand where information is most effectively located and which access controls are required, as well as follow basic hygiene best practices for patching, coding, etc.

Here are five steps needed to effectively assess a company’s security posture, including its infrastructure and operations:

1. Identifying technology gaps

Security threats are constantly evolving and becoming more effective and harmful. As a result, security technology must also constantly evolve to keep up with the latest types of threats. Assessing the technology you have been using for four, five or more years should be an essential part of your defense strategy and enable you to develop a much greater resistance against external threats.

2. Use best-in-class standards

When assessing where security threats, vulnerabilities, and potential vulnerabilities lie for your business, apply time-tested methods and methodologies based on industry standards and practices, such as the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). These best-in-class methods help ensure that critical systems, data, and applications are protected.

3. Ensure compliance requirements are met

Many organizations must ensure that they comply with government regulations and standards, including PCI-DSS, HIPAA, SOX, and GLBA. This applies to both the internal and external levels. Your company will likely work with many partners, vendors, and/or customers who also have compliance requirements on their part. Any security assessment should include how to protect all your internal and external data to avoid the costly consequence of non-compliance.

4. Determine whether you have the appropriate security management resources

It can be difficult to attract and retain high-level security professionals. Possibility to consider external expert support. Options like CISO-as-a-Service can either train the right person(s) internally or completely oversee security to free up executives to focus on other business goals.

5. Design a roadmap for treatment activities

Despite better planning, there will be security incidents. When well prepared in advance, companies can respond faster when they occur and reduce the impact. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Oftentimes, organizations bring in security expertise only when it has been hacked. This is expensive and cumbersome. With policies and processes in place early on, employees will know what to do before a security breach occurs and can act accordingly (eg who needs to be informed, who is responsible, etc.). Create scenarios and run a tabletop test to mimic the types of incidents in the real world and how you will respond to make sure you know the steps to take across the company.

In addition to the above five steps, there are important questions that modern organizations need to revisit on a regular basis, including:

  • Do we understand the security situation of our organization and the risks associated with it?
  • Do our employees have a security mindset?
  • Do we have a maturity model for cybersecurity?
  • How do we measure up to the cybersecurity maturity model?

Through a comprehensive security assessment, along with ongoing maintenance, companies can identify security holes, vulnerabilities in technologies and practices, and potential vulnerabilities to protect critical systems, data, and applications. By evaluating your organization’s current security program and infrastructure and designing an actionable plan, you will enhance the resilience and performance of your security and be better prepared for the future.

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