How to Develop a Robust Cybersecurity Strategy for Your Business

In an age of globalized commerce, the protection of sensitive data and the integrity of organizational assets is crucial. The average cost of a data breach was $4.45 million in 2023, the highest on record. Companies today face the ever-evolving challenges of cyber attacks that range from sophisticated threats to opportunistic exploits.

That’s why, developing a powerful cybersecurity strategy is imperative. Whether you run a small business or a large enterprise, the potential impact of security incidents on your reputation, operations, and finances underscores the importance of proactive cybersecurity measures.

What does that look like? Here, we look at how your business can create cyber-resilient operations to keep your business safe.

Initial Assessments

The first step to safeguarding assets is understanding exactly what needs to be protected. Identify and catalog all digital assets, which can include:

  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Data
  • Networks

Consider the potential cyber risks and vulnerabilities associated with each asset. This will help lay the foundation of your strategy.

Establish a Robust Cybersecurity Policy

Establishing a comprehensive cyber security policy helps to fortify your organization against online attacks. This serves as a guiding framework that outlines the acceptable use of technology across the company and clearly defines the responsibilities and roles regarding security practices.

Some things to consider when establishing a robust cybersecurity policy include:

  • Policy objectives and scope
  • Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)
  • Access controls and user authentication
  • Data classification and handling
  • Incident reporting and responses

In addition to how you write the policy, it’s also important how you train people on it.

Employee Awareness and Training on Cyber Threats

The key to total employee adoption is more informed awareness. Provide regular cybersecurity training to staff so people better understand the common cyber threats faced. The team should know if a company is prone to phishing attacks and social engineering.

Ensure employees understand the importance of strong passwords and how that ties into proactive risk management. It is important to establish an ongoing process for keeping staff informed about the latest cyber risks and best practices.  

Authentication and Access Controls

A business must think carefully about roles and responsibilities when it comes to security protocols and cyber strategy. Implement strong access controls, limiting access to only the resources needed for each role. This is where compartmentalizing things work in your favor.

You may also want to utilize multi-factor authentication (MFA) as an extra layer of cyber security for user accounts. Multi-factor authentication usually involves combining something the user knows (like a password) with something the user has (security token, biometric verification, or smartphone app). 

Updates and Patch Management

Another important aspect of a robust security strategy is patch management and software updates. By keeping all systems (including software, applications, and operations) up to date with the latest security patches, companies can better manage cyber risks and reduce exploitation. 

Implementing a system for patch management will ensure timely updates, reduce security issues, and promote cyber-resilient business operations. You may also want to consider automated patching tools to streamline the process of identifying and deploying patches. This will also help to prioritize the most critical patches.  

Network Security

Network security plays a pivotal role in safeguarding a company’s digital infrastructure against attacks. This includes the implementation of tools like:

  • Configure firewalls at the network perimeter
  • Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IDPS)
  • Network segmentation to isolate functions
  • Encrypted Wi-Fi networks and utilize VPNs
  • Regular audits and penetration testing
By implementing some of these methods, a business can significantly enhance its network security posture, greatly reducing the risk of unauthorized access, cyber incidents, and data breaches.

Incident Response Plan for a Data Breach

If something does happen, what’s your plan? This is essential to developing an effective online security strategy. An incident response plan provides a structured approach to mitigating the impact of security incidents. 

Your detailed plan should outline every step to take in the event the organization is exploited by attackers and cybercriminals. Here is a quick example:

  1. Define incident categories based on nature and severity
  2. Establish an Incident Response Team (IRT)
  3. Create an Incident Response Policy (IRP)
  4. How to identify and report a cyber security incident
  5. Incident analysis and prioritization
  6. Containment and eradication of data breach
  7. Communication protocols and regulatory compliance
  8. Recovery and system restoration plan
  9. Post-incident review
  10. Continuous improvement 

It may be a good idea to conduct regular exercises and drills to test the effectiveness of the response plan. In addition, outline steps for containing the incident to prevent further damage and eliminate the root cause.

Secure Configuration

To ensure all systems and devices are securely configured, you should always disable unnecessary services and features that can be easily exploited by a cyber attack or a cybercrime. Perform regular system audits to quickly identify and correct any security weaknesses.

Apply the principle of least privilege. This means business users only have the minimum level of access needed to perform their role. Consequently, this ensures a more secure configuration. 

Data Backup and Recovery for Cyber Attacks

Implementing a strong backup and recovery plan ensures the integrity and availability of critical data, even in the event of corruption, cyber attacks, and financial loss. Creating an effective backup plan starts with identifying your most important data, which can typically include:

  • Customer information
  • Financial records
  • Intellectual property
  • Other sensitive custom data
Make it a habit to regularly back up important data, make sure all backups are stored securely, and that everything can be restored quickly. Test the restoration process often to ensure the viability of your backed-up information. 

Vendor Security to Assess Cyber Risks

This aspect of cybersecurity is often overlooked, but assessing the practices of third-party suppliers and service providers is important—especially when it comes to protecting your business reputation. Before doing business with anyone, take the extra step to ensure they meet your security standards.

You may also want to consider including cybersecurity clauses in contracts. This will proactively address security expectations and responsibilities before any cyber attack events may occur.

What are some contractual measures businesses can consider for vendor security?

  • Security clauses to clearly outline expectations
  • Protection and privacy to specify how to handle sensitive data
  • Access controls and authentication for roles and responsibilities
  • Third-party security assessments of vendor’s systems and abilities
  • Subcontractor oversight with outlined security measures
You may also want to consider cybersecurity insurance requirements for the vendor, including coverage for data breaches and security issues.

Monitoring and Detection

The average time it takes to identify a data breach is 207 days. Continuous monitoring systems, with security information and event management (SIEM) tools, help a business detect and respond to potential security threats in real-time. Some of these activities can include:

  • Real-time network traffic analysis to look for suspicious patterns
  • Endpoint security monitoring to monitor device activity on the network
  • User activity monitoring to track behavior and alert for deviations
  • Application, IoT device, and cloud security monitoring
  • Threat intelligence feeds and regular vulnerability scanning

Monitoring and detection enhance a company’s risk management and ability to mitigate cybersecurity attacks or emerging threats promptly.

Collaboration and Information Sharing

The ability of a team to work together and share information plays a pivotal role in the success of an online security strategy. By fostering partnerships with industry peers and actively participating in data-sharing initiatives, business leaders can stay ahead of cybersecurity threats, eliminate human error, and practice more preventative measures. 

Activities to encourage collaboration can include everything from partnerships to participation in industry forums, Threat Intelligence Sharing (IOCs), vulnerability data, and more. It’s important to establish clear legal and ethical aspects of information sharing. This will ensure compliance with privacy regulations and legal frameworks.

Additional Considerations for Your Cybersecurity Strategy

  • Regular security audits and assessments to identify weaknesses
  • Stay informed on relevant data protection, latest developments, and cybersecurity regulations
  • Cybersecurity insurance to mitigate and financial impact of a data breach 
  • Specify your cybersecurity tech stack including antivirus software and firewalls
  • Budget and resource allocation for implementing and maintaining the strategy

Summing It Up

Crafting a powerful and effective cybersecurity strategy is important for safeguarding critical assets, mitigating the risk of cyber threats, and maintaining operational integrity. It should emphasize the importance of continuous monitoring, analysis of network traffic, endpoint security, user activities, and application behaviors.  

By adapting your strategy to the shifting cybersecurity landscape, a business can build a strong stance against exploitation. Today’s leadership should understand the future of cyber security depends on adopting new technologies and having a deeper understanding of vulnerable systems.

A successful and robust strategy requires a human element as well. You need absolute collaboration between employees, IT teams, and management. When everyone is on the same page about the safety of the business, everything else falls in line.   

According to the World Economic Forum, the likelihood that a cybercrime entity is detected and prosecuted in the U.S. is estimated at around %0.05. A business must take proactive measures to protect itself, addressing vulnerabilities in real-time, fostering a security-conscious culture, and taking steps to ensure cyber resilience. 

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