Trustwave SpiderLabs Uncovers Ov3r_Stealer Malware Spread via Phishing and Facebook Advertising. Learn More

Trustwave SpiderLabs Uncovers Ov3r_Stealer Malware Spread via Phishing and Facebook Advertising. Learn More

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Focus on these 3 Areas to Develop a Strong Cybersecurity Posture With Fewer Resources

Not every organization's security apparatus is built or funded at the same level.

For smaller organizations or those with other needs competing for budget, here are some points that show it's possible to do more with less.


To drive meaningful progress and ensure a robust security posture, it's the C-suite and the board must collaborate and focus on three key areas: coverage, consolidation, and assurance. 

By addressing these critical elements, organisations can optimise their cybersecurity investments, enhance operational efficiency, and proactively safeguard against emerging threats.


1. Coverage 


One of the fundamental challenges in cybersecurity is distinguishing between an organization's actions and the outcomes it can control. 

Investing significant resources into cybersecurity and doing all the right things doesn't ensure that your organization will avoid a cyber incident. At the same time, businesses can spend nothing on cybersecurity, and remarkably nothing bad may happen.

In fact, many businesses spend zero dollars on cybersecurity and never experience an incident; however, this lack of activity doesn't mean they are managing their risk properly, only that they haven't been targeted.  

Most cyber security breaches happen to organisations that are not missing the control required to stop that breach. They just don't have the control deployed to a particular system, at a particular time, or it isn't operating effectively.

At the end of the day, the question shouldn't be 'Are we secure?' but rather 'How well are we managing the elements of security that we need to be managing?

Once an organisation has determined the security controls needed to manage its risk effectively, the key becomes monitoring the degree to which those controls are fully implemented. How compliant are you with your patching policy? Do you really test all your web applications? Do all your databases implement encryption of sensitive data on storage?  

Organisations are large and complex, and IT environments of any size will always have edge cases that make security difficult: systems that get spun up in an emergency don't get tested on time; key applications that stop working when a patch is applied so go unpatched for a period of time; and so on. 

As a result, achieving 100% coverage consistently is impractical (or unreasonably costly). 

Focusing on getting existing controls from a 95% coverage level to a 99% or 100% coverage level, will often get significantly greater value than adding more partially deployed controls. Over time, organisations can increase these thresholds, gradually improving their security environment while aligning with risk tolerances. 


2. Consolidation 


Security requirements don't exist in a vacuum. They are determined with reference to what a business does, the risks it faces, and its risk appetite. While "what a business does" is often considered a fait accompli, doing so can risk making poor economic decisions about how security is approached. 
Reducing security requirements can be a viable strategy to optimise resources and costs. Organisations often overlook the opportunity to reshape their business processes to avoid unnecessary security expenses. For instance, organisations can shift those specific security needs to specialised service providers by outsourcing certain functions, such as development or data management.  

Additionally, evaluating regulatory compliance and considering alternatives, like shutting down non-core business lines or restructuring operations, can lead to significant cost savings.

As an example, many years ago it may have made sense to create a loyalty program. However, as that program evolved into a fully-fledged financial service and the security requirements accompanying it are an order of magnitude greater than the core business it is intended to support, it may well be that exiting that business – and removing the security obligations – is the most cost-effective way to deploy capital. 

Organisations can channel investments towards focused controls that yield greater impact by aligning security measures with business objectives.  


3. Assurance  


While implementing security controls is crucial, organisations must go beyond blind trust. It's imperative to validate that the controls put in place are effectively addressing the identified risks. The notion of "trust but verify" must be ingrained in cybersecurity practices. This approach ensures that controls are fit-for-purpose and capable of effectively mitigating threats. Organisations should adopt industry-recognised practices for control validation and verification, empowering them to make informed decisions regarding the efficacy of their security measures. Organisations can bolster their security posture and build resilience against emerging threats by continuously evaluating and adapting controls.  

Furthermore, it's important to recognise that maximising the impact of cybersecurity investments requires collaboration and shared resources, particularly for smaller organisations with limited budgets. Government agencies have realised this need and established cyber hubs and shared services to support smaller agencies. In the private sector, managed security service providers (MSSPs) offer a way for organisations to access comprehensive security capabilities without building them internally. 

By focusing on coverage, consolidation, and assurance, organisations can optimise their cybersecurity investments, streamline operations, and build a resilient security posture. It's crucial to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of security measures rather than blindly increasing the number of controls."

More controls don't necessarily equate to better protection. Instead, organisations should strive to do more with less, maximising the value derived from their cybersecurity investments. 

Rather than spreading resources thin across a shopping list of security technologies, concentrating efforts on a smaller number of high-impact controls is often more beneficial. By investing in a focused and targeted manner, organisations can achieve a greater impact on their security posture. 

A version of this article originally appeared on ITWire.com. 

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