Are you prepared for a cyber attack?

RISK MANAGEMENT Ervin Daniels todayMarch 1, 2021 223 1

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Is your organization prepared for a cyber attack? As cyber-attacks continue to increase the news cycle, targeting both large corporations and small businesses, organizations that previously had a narrow perspective in need to invest in cybersecurity are increasingly focusing on one question: Are we prepared in the event of a cyber attack? This question leads to a deeper dive into an answer rather than just “yes” or “no.” The recent SolarWinds security breach has put many organizations on heightened security awareness. Security leaders everywhere face many complex challenges in keeping their organization’s assets safe from security-related attacks, and their top challenges are ensuring the appropriate security controls are in place.

Cybersecurity readiness involves a proactive strategy that goes far beyond just implementing security controls. The goal for organizations is to become a risk-based security program. Security is a business need, and it all starts with prioritizing the business risks and for cybersecurity teams becoming strategic partners with the business.

Organizations can take measurable steps to address these security-related challenges by identifying security vulnerabilities, being aware of threats, mitigating risk, and improving security to achieve a holistic strategic approach.


Here’s a quick summary of how to develop a proactive security and risk management strategy.

Governance: The first initial step is to establish an organization-wide risk management process. Risk Management must be an enabler for the business. Organizational senior leadership/executives and managers must establish a governance structure and oversight for managing information security risks across the organization. Management must ensure that an organization has the correct information structure, leadership, decision-making, and guidance for the appropriate risk tolerance. Governance is established by implementing a cybersecurity framework. The outcome is developing and implementing an organizational risk management strategy to address how the organization intends to identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover from cyber-attacks.

Risk Management: The next step to addressing these security challenges in risk management is the organization’s ability to carry out the mission of the risk management strategy. Risk Management should be at the system level and integrating risk and security with enterprise architecture. Security Architecture plays a role in governance; it brings these controls to fruition. The goal is to increase the security posture with a reliable security architecture.

Enterprise Architecture (including Security Architecture) aligns business systems and supporting information systems effectively and securely with business goals. Organizations need to understand their organizational risk and compliance requirements before implementing an Enterprise Security Architecture because Security Architecture derives from your understanding of risk.

Once risk is identified and understood, it defines the organization’s strategy in preparation to address risk. Organizations can then manage the risk by accepting, transferring, avoiding, or mitigating the risk. In a case of risk mitigation, a risk mitigation plan must contain a roadmap of implementing appropriate controls to close the security gaps.

The following are the types of security controls to implemented:

Directive controls: Next step, in building a Security Architecture, organizations must identify and define security policies, standards, procedures, and processes within the cybersecurity framework that say how you will address the organizational risk and compliance requirements. For example, you could have a documented security policy that says all data-at-rest and data-in-transit must use encryption.

Preventive Controls: Next step, in the same way those security policies define how to address risk, preventive controls are the technical implementations of those security policies. Security controls provide security protection or reduce the risk of cyberattacks. Many examples of technical or preventative controls may fall under these security domains: (e.g., Identity & Access Management, Endpoint Protection, Network, Infrastructure Security, Application and Workload Protection, Data Privacy & Protection, Security Monitoring, and Incident Response, etc.).

Detective and Corrective Controls: Lastly, once your preventive controls are in place (e.g., your environment has been hardened against attacks), you still need to detect, monitor, and discover security incidents and respond and take action against security incidents appropriately when detected within an organization’s environment.

Recovery Controls: The final type of control is recovery controls, such as Cyber Resiliency and Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery plans, which maintain resiliency and support the timely recovery of business functions to normal operations.

Governance: Meanwhile, the established governance and risk management process regularly check that your security policies and controls have been implemented and enforced.

Conclusion: This list is not a comprehensive and detailed checklist for developing a proactive strategy. Still, it’s an excellent high-level overview to begin addressing security challenges from a holistic approach perspective.

Take steps to improve your organization’s security posture and start with assessing your organizational risk and compliance requirements with a risk-based approach. Security is ever-evolving; therefore, organizations should seek guidance from their security leaders, subject matter experts, vendors, and peers in their cybersecurity journey.

Written by: Ervin Daniels

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About the author

Ervin Daniels

Cybersecurity Architect with over 25 years of Technology and Security leadership and hands-on experience across various industries (retail, public, financial services, and technology).

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