Learning Center January 9, 2020

8 Steps to Improve Your Security Posture

In today’s world, businesses are constantly at risk of being compromised in a cyberattack.

Easily obtainable malware has significantly lowered the barrier to entry for carrying out attacks, resulting in increased cybercrime activity. For this reason, organizations must have a strong cybersecurity posture as this will enable them to adequately detect and manage intrusions across networks.

When working to improve your organization’s security posture, there are several best practices that you can implement to help identify gaps in security controls and quantify risk. Following these best practices will not only help improve your organization’s ability to protect valuable assets, but will also ensure that your cybersecurity posture can be continually monitored and enhanced moving forward.

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What is security posture and why is it important?

Cybersecurity posture measures how prepared your organization is for an attack and the effectiveness of your overall cybersecurity efforts. Simply put, it’s a collective security status of all networks, systems, hardware, services, and information.

Cybercriminals are finding smarter and better ways to exploit the weaknesses in a company’s infrastructure. As such, strengthening your security posture and recognizing where you stand regarding online threats should be top-of-mind. Understanding where the security gaps and vulnerabilities are within your organization can motivate your team to be more proactive in creating a more secure environment.

How to evaluate your security posture

A strong security posture suggests your organization has the appropriate measures in place to protect your IT systems and networks from threats. Evaluating your security posture starts with identifying your organizational needs and objectives. This information will help you build a security framework and implement processes tailored to your organization. There are a variety of security tools available to help organizations automatically evaluate their security posture. These evaluations often help detect hidden risks and vulnerabilities so you can prioritize remediation efforts accordingly.

8 steps to improve your security posture

Below are eight best practices you can use to improve your organization’s security posture.

1. Conduct a cybersecurity risk assessment

Improving your security posture begins with assessing the strength of the controls you currently have in place. One way to do this is by conducting a cybersecurity risk assessment. This assessment identifies the level of vulnerability across various assets within your organization. The results of the assessment will help you determine which actions need to be taken to enhance your security posture as well as inform the security controls you put in place to protect against future attacks.

When conducting risk assessments, it is also important to evaluate your organization’s third-party vendors so you can identify and address any vulnerabilities they may have in their systems. A vulnerability anywhere in your supply chain can escalate risk and cost your organization in lost revenue and reputation, so it is recommended that you periodically audit high-risk vendors.

2. Prioritize risk by business impact

Once asset vulnerabilities have been identified, it is important to then rank them based on the overall risk they pose to your organization. This will help you determine what to prioritize when working to improve your security posture, as well as inform the risk benchmarks you set for future evaluations.

Security ratings help prioritize risk by assigning a letter grade to your security posture based on how well it protects critical data and information. The letter grade assigned provides your organization with a clear understanding of which areas require focus within your security architecture. These ratings can also be used in third-party risk management efforts, helping to prove your due diligence during the onboarding process or as part of ongoing vendor monitoring.

3. Track security metrics

Security metrics provide your organization with a way to accurately measure the effectiveness of your security practices. These metrics can also help identify ways to mitigate risk and guide future risk prioritization. With that in mind, the efficacy of your metrics program relies heavily on what you decide to measure, so it is crucial that you are tracking metrics that affect your company from both an operational and strategic standpoint.

In order for your security metrics to add value, you need to ensure that they align with your security goals while not being overly complex. These metrics should be used to identify, track, and report on key performance indicators (KPIs), so it is important to ensure that the data they analyze is reliable and easy to understand. This way, your security metrics can be leveraged to accurately inform future security decisions.

The effectiveness of a metric can vary based on the maturity of your organization’s security programs. For this reason, it is essential that you set scaleable goals for each metric you track so that it can be used to continually assess your security posture as it develops.

4. Implement automated cybersecurity solutions

Implementing automation into your organization’s network environment is imperative when working to mitigate risk and improve security practices. Using automated cybersecurity solutions to monitor your network gives time back to IT teams, allowing security professionals to focus their efforts on high-risk threats.

Additionally, automated cybersecurity solutions can help cut down incident response times and stop attacks from spreading across networks. If set up correctly, automated resources can also be used to assess security metrics. For this reason, we recommend that you track metrics that allow for the automated collection of data.

5. Educate your employees

A lack of security training can expose your organization to a variety of cyber risks, so it is essential to prioritize employee training as a means of protection against external cyber threats. Security training should be administered to every employee during the onboarding process, with curriculum varying based on job function and seniority. Regular testing of employees’ cybersecurity literacy will allow you to evaluate the effectiveness of the education programs you have in place.

6. Create an incident response plan

In the event of a breach, you need to have a response plan in place as this can help reduce potential damage and allow for a quick return to normal operations. A good place to start is by establishing response teams who will be responsible for guiding your organization’s actions should your systems be compromised. You should also create a checklist of action items that should be prioritized during an attack to ensure no time is wasted. This plan will vary depending on the severity of the attack and the size of your organization.

Once the plan has been developed, carry out a mock attack to ensure that each employee understands their role and can execute it effectively. Response plans should be updated at least once per year, or whenever new technology is implemented at your organization.

7. Implement regular updates as needed

Outdated security tools and practices can hurt your security posture and allow cybercriminals to infiltrate your systems. For that reason, IT teams should form a habit of implementing regular changes and adjustments to stay ahead of new advancements in security technology and modern threats.

8. Eliminate silos

IT and security teams that operate within silos are more at risk due to the lack of communication amongst each other. Fostering a collaborative and strong security culture can help teams understand the importance of cybersecurity, the role each person plays in prevention, and the possible consequences of an attack. Furthermore, reinforcing a collaborative culture enables teams to realize how working together can help mitigate risks more effectively and efficiently.

How SecurityScorecard can benefit your security posture

The cyber threat landscape’s rapid and ongoing evolution has made it very difficult for organizations to accurately determine the strength of their security posture. Additionally, new technologies can make identifying network vulnerabilities very challenging for security teams.

With that in mind, SecurityScorecard’s security rating platform is an excellent resource for organizations looking to assess their cybersecurity risk. Continuous data-driven monitoring of your security practices will provide you with a snapshot of your organization’s overall cyber health, as well as identify any areas of common or critical risk within your company. SecurityScorecard’s analytics capabilities give your security team comprehensive visibility into your network and system vulnerabilities, allowing you to mitigate risk in real-time. Third-party risk is also evaluated through the use of vendor security scores, allowing you to monitor how your business ecosystem is performing at all times.

In the digital age, continually monitoring your security posture has become a necessity, so it is important that you are able to implement these best practices into your business operations as they will help you stay protected. Get your free rating today.

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