A quick overview of cybersecurity
The US government has identified cybersecurity as “one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.” According to a recent McKinsey survey, 75 percent of industry experts consider cybersecurity to be one of their top priorities, and only 16 percent say their companies are well prepared to deal with the cyber-risks they face.
For IT and security professionals, keeping the enterprise safe can be considered “life in the fast lane.” As the scope and complexity of cyber-risks multiply at hyper-speed, skilled resources are scarce and cybersecurity tools are having trouble keeping up.
What is security posture
Combine some common words together and you get exponential layers of meaning that go well beyond the expected. Cybersecurity posture (security posture in short) is one of those terms.
Let’s start by taking a quick trip to the dictionary. Unlike position, which refers to the space occupied by something at a particular point in time, posture is a state or condition with respect to particular circumstances. Where position is static, posture is fluid depending on the context. Thus, security postures need to make adjustments as the IT landscape changes, in order to align with “the new normal.”
If the strength of a company’s cybersecurity policies, controls, and how effectively they mitigate risk is referred to as its security posture, here are some key questions the enterprise needs to ask:
- How secure is our organization?
- How comprehensive is our cybersecurity strategy?
- How bullet-proof are our cybersecurity controls?
- Can we accurately measure breach risk and cyber-resilience?
- How effective is our vulnerability management program?
- How vulnerable are we to potential breaches and attacks?
To increase and sustain your organization’s cyber-resilience to attacks (current and emerging), enterprises must step out of the box, adopting a new security posture that:
- Proactively maps the organization’s attack surface and understands its weak points and where it is likely to be attacked
- Continuously adjusts to a constantly changing environment
- Rests on a strategic foundation with strong tactical underpinnings
- Takes a comprehensive view of risk across the enterprise
- Monitors for dangers in near real time
Comprehensive approach to security posture
When thinking about security posture, it’s important to remember that security is a journey, not a destination. Many organizations think that purchasing the latest security tools will help them strengthen their security posture. However, security requires a much more comprehensive approach than that. Fractured rather than comprehensive solutions leave you exposed and limit economies of scale. Truly effective cybersecurity needs to include people, processes, technology, and culture throughout the organization.
Continuous fine-tuning to improve security posture
Once organizations set a benchmark, they need to continually adjust their security posture to align with a changing environment. Your attack surface needs to be carefully monitored across the ever-evolving cyber landscape. As security and IT teams introduce critical configurations and security controls, management will be a critical success factor over time. A single audit of a configuration in the deployment of a new system is an important beginning phase, but it’s equally important to confirm that the initial deployment configurations are still accurate and compliant over time.
Because cybersecurity is such a critical success factor, it’s “all hands on deck.” Throughout the organization, leaders wear many hats, and they all have a specific role to play in maintaining a responsive and effective security posture. These responsibilities include:
- Setting the overall direction
- Establishing priorities
- Managing and mitigating overall cyber-related business risks
- Establishing effective governance controls
- Resourcing cybersecurity programs
- Safeguarding the sensitive information they rely on for planning and decision making
- Establishing a cyber-secure culture within the organization
This kind of top-down commitment enables broader cybersecurity awareness and a deeper integration of safeguards into the fabric of the enterprise.
It is also essential that you give your IT team the authority, flexibility, and resources to protect your company with a strong program of comprehensive, ongoing cybersecurity programs. The IT role goes far beyond simply setting up firewalls and installing antivirus software. Your IT team is a valuable asset in strengthening your organization’s security posture with programs that include:
- Vulnerability scanning
- Third-party penetration testing
- Phishing simulations
- Ongoing training
- Overall strategy development and management
Security posture is quite simply an organization’s overall cybersecurity strength and resilience in relation to cyber-threats. That said, the complexity and volume of cyber-attacks can make threat and vulnerability detection and mitigation extremely challenging. As organizations move away from last generation security strategies and fragmented solutions, they are transitioning to a comprehensive security posture that can protect against a sophisticated, ever-changing threat landscape. This posture is driven by an overarching vulnerability management process that unifies cybersecurity strategy and permeates the organization to predict, prevent, and proactively mitigate breaches before they happen.
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