As with any aspect of a company, an effective cybersecurity strategy needs to address the signs of the times. In the current threat landscape, new and evolving cybersecurity risks and cyberthreats can’t be ignored. Robust cybersecurity strategies are required to confront this.
The COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed the digital transformation plans of thousands of businesses. This meant that critical infrastructure and key areas of operations had to become increasingly cloud-based. While this move to the cloud brings numerous advantages, it also offers new areas of access to malicious cyber attackers.
The global average cost of a data breach in 2022 was a jaw-dropping $4.35 million. A loss of this magnitude could easily be the final nail in the coffin for many businesses.
These organizations need a clear roadmap to strengthen their security posture and prevent data breaches, intellectual property theft, supply chain attacks, and various other disasters.
What is a Cybersecurity Strategy?
The beginning of 2023 is the absolute right time for a company to reassess its cybersecurity capabilities. Gone are the days when firewalls, random security tools, endpoint scanners, and simple authentication processes were sufficient to protect a business from security issues. Isolated plans need to be shelved, and intricate strategy needs to be pushed to the forefront.
A cybersecurity strategy is a holistic approach to protecting a business’s cyberspace. It is essentially an amalgamation of best practices, processes, and protocols to recognize and mitigate cybersecurity threats. Most importantly, an effective cybersecurity strategy should be in complete alliance with the larger story, logic, and arc of a particular business and your IT strategy. It should also align with national security guidelines and the NIST cybersecurity framework.
Designing an optimal cybersecurity strategy can be complex but also transformative. The pros outweigh the cons by giant margins. In the post-pandemic world, where digital transformation is vital and the journey towards cloud-based infrastructure is irreversible, having a robust cybersecurity strategy is a non-option.
Top Cybersecurity Strategy Tips
1. Make 2023 Zero-Trust
Zero-trust cybersecurity models are integral to safeguarding critical infrastructure. Zero-trust, as the name suggests, is an architectural model where all users who have access or interact with a system need to be vetted and authenticated before being bestowed any kind of access privileges. This model is a main ingredient in fortifying cyber ecosystems.
Post-pandemic, we are seeing a continuation of work-from-home and remote collaboration models. This means that there are more endpoints connected to a business. Therefore, there are also more entry points for attackers. Zero-trust architecture ensures that a business can be safe while comfortably adopting new models that involve more users on more endpoint devices.
The NIST’s (National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence) latest guidance on implementing a zero-trust approach reiterates that the user’s location and device should be irrelevant when it comes to providing access. Instead, it champions a perimeterless security approach that scans and authorizes users irrespective of their location or device.
2. Employ AI-Powered Automation Tools
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the world as we know it. Fundamentally, what AI does is increase the speed and efficiency of all processes to a rate previously unimaginable. It is only logical that businesses utilize the full potential and power of AI, in the form of automation tools, for their security strategies.
Automation allows for constant surveillance. Without the capabilities of AI, 24/7 security is a resource-heavy and time-consuming endeavor, and one that leaves plenty of gaps through which attackers can sneak in. Automation tools can make risk management and incident response an incredibly fast activity. They can scan for vulnerabilities and remediate attacks in real-time.
In the last couple of years, businesses that didn’t employ AI-powered tools may have escaped unscathed. However, in 2023, those that don’t opt for some degree of automation in their cybersecurity plans are going to be prime targets for attacks.
3. Align Cybersecurity with Business Strategy
News and statistics on data breaches and other cybersecurity incidents can appear so ominous and terrifying that businesses may be tempted to focus on those and nothing else. However, to develop cyber resilience and take the best security measures, businesses should not isolate their cybersecurity plans. Instead, they should align them with their overall business strategy.
Every Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) should ensure that a cybersecurity strategy is not detrimental to their organization’s operations. They should ideally establish a system where security policies and protocols are configured in a manner that helps all stakeholders within an organization.
In complex distributed cloud-based infrastructures, this can be a challenging task because the attack surface is so vast. However, a well-optimized cybersecurity strategy will ensure that a business’s attack surface is as limited as can be.
4. Mitigate Human Error
The aforementioned increase in work-from-home options, internet-of-things (IoT), and connected endpoints greatly open up a very common but dangerous risk: human error. Human errors result in threats like ransomware, malware, and phishing. The vast majority of cybersecurity breaches are because of human error.
According to IBM, business email compromise, third-party software hijacks, cloud misconfigurations, simple accidents, and compromised devices are the most common reasons for a data breach. Stolen credentials and credential stuffing attacks are also attack vectors to look out for because they cost companies around $150,000 more than the average data breach.
What initiatives can a company take to mitigate human error? It is unrealistic and perhaps even unwise to consider eliminating human workforces. Therefore, the inevitable human error needs to be addressed in cybersecurity strategies. Automated analytics powered by AI and machine learning is likely to be the best way to address human error and minimize risk.
5. Prioritize Critical Infrastructure
Today’s world is unforgiving when it comes to disruptions. Consumers and users of services are used to tremendous speeds and high degrees of efficiency. Anything less than elite service can likely cause an exodus of customers. Endless competition in an incredibly saturated landscape can easily mean losing those customers forever.
This is an important reminder because in the past, new security measures and processes have often been the cause of disruptions and outages. Avoiding or, at the very least, minimizing the duration of such disruptions is important for two reasons.
The first is that an outage during the implementation of new security measures can result in a period of time where a company is vulnerable to the very risks from which it seeks to protect itself. The second is that a disruption of service can cost a company the trust and confidence of its customers. This, by extension, could result in a loss in business, revenue, and profit margins.
Therefore, a robust cybersecurity strategy will involve prioritizing and strengthening critical infrastructure that can run during the implementation of new or updated security measures. Muscular critical infrastructure will give businesses the peace of mind needed to improve their cybersecurity without disruptions.
For most businesses in 2023, the quality of their cybersecurity strategy will define their path to the future. It’s important to remember that designing and implementing a cybersecurity strategy is not a low-cost affair. However, the protection of sensitive data and intellectual property needs to be the top priority for businesses to succeed.
Instead of throwing money at hastily planned cybersecurity solutions, it’s important to remember that higher security expenses do not necessarily mean higher degrees of security. It’s all about implementation. Employing the assistance of cybersecurity experts would be the logical move for most companies.
The optimal cybersecurity strategy will be holistic and in compliance with the larger goals, objectives, logic, and infrastructure of a business. Most importantly, it needs to augment business’s operations to ensure network security and avert potential disruption or latency.