Your Cybersecurity To-Do List

Cyberecurity is a company-wide issue, and quantifiable metrics not only unify language but also test and demonstrate success.

The king of rock and roll, Elvis, was famous for “Taking Care of Business” (the name he gave his band). But when it comes to your cybersecurity dashboard, do you have the right metrics and visibility to mount a proper cyber defense and take care of business? Or are your cyber optics just along for the ride? No matter how many news stories about hacks, information theft and cyber espionage surface within your Facebook or Twitter feed, the idea that a major problem could happen to your organization sometimes remains just that, an abstraction. Many companies do not devote the proper resources to safeguarding their networks, even though the global cost of cybercrime will reach $2 trillion by 2019, three times the amount in 2015. Don’t wait for cybercrime to find you — remember that the best defense is always a good offense. Maintaining a successful security strategy requires dedication and delivering on a strategy that supports all functions of an organization. Security is a company-wide issue, and quantifiable metrics not only unify language but also demonstrate success. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize Your team can’t catch what they don’t see. Sounds like a catchy song lyric, doesn’t it? Maintaining a comprehensive view of the entire organization means more than just access to networks and systems. It requires an understanding of typical user behaviors and data traffic patterns, plus an awareness of corporate protocols as they relate to remote users and servers. Proper visibility throughout an organization necessitates laser focus on: BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) protocol and management: Most organizations have policies around personal devices brought from home. These may or may not be followed, so a closer eye on device usage throughout the organization is warranted. Email traffic: Did you know that in the third quarter of 2016 alone, 18 million new malware samples were captured? Viruses via e-mail remain a top concern for security teams. Social and internet traffic: It’s likely that most employees in your organization use social media, perhaps even to promote the business. Prevent them from becoming an avenue into committing fraud or damaging the brand. See also: Security for Core Systems in the Cloud   Unusual user behaviors: Understanding your organization’s user behaviors is key to spotting abnormal patterns. Communicate clear policies and expectations for employees and enforce compliance to avoid accidental missteps and catch genuine incidents. Cloud applications and virtual servers: Internet-based applications create functional and productivity tools for an organization, but they put data at risk. Careful monitoring and protective firewall construction prevent easy access for hackers. The Best Metrics: Keep It Simple Create a security plan with goals that are understood and supported by the whole company. Measurement offers a clear and concise method of presenting critical information, so it’s important to measure the right statistics. Communicate on stats and data aligned with business objectives to gain the support of your employees and create a common language that everyone can understand. Focus on answering the following questions: How are we doing compared with our peers? In today’s business environment, understanding how successfully your organization prevents data loss or theft compared with other companies in your vertical provides a clear perspective on how your strategy is working. How quickly are we able to respond to a breach? Your response plan to a potential security incident is a critical factor in recovering from a cybercrime. Remember, it’s not IF you are breached, it’s when. Recognition of an incident, isolation of a breach and recovery convey the crucial steps to preventing widespread loss of private data. Two of the effective security metrics Secure Anchor uses with our clients are “dwell time” and “lateral movement.” Dwell time answers the question, how long did it take you to find and contain a breach? Lateral movement describes how you were or were not able to prevent the cyber adversary’s movement throughout your network. Are we getting better? Cybersecurity is never “done.” Regular audits of security processes and breach protocols provide the opportunity to improve and excel. Make sure your executive board is cognizant of the evolving journey. Are we spending enough (or too much) money? Aligning security technology and human resources with return on investment can be tricky, but budget allocations are a realistic pain point for many security departments and must be addressed. See also: 2018 Predictions on Cybersecurity   Creating and maintaining a thorough view of an organization’s user, network and system traffic allows a security team to design a blueprint to a comprehensive security strategy. Communicating that plan and measuring its success require the right metrics to align IT with business and prevent widespread damage from information thieves. Be a cybersecurity rock star. Just like any musician, you’ll have your big hits and your flops. But when you can see where you're going, with the right visibility into your systems, you will be TCB, takin’ care of business.

Eric Cole

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Eric Cole

Dr. Eric Cole is CEO of Secure Anchor, former CTO of McAfee and Lockheed Martin, a member of the commission on cyber security for President Obama and the security adviser for Bill Gates and his family.

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