The development of technologies to automate processes, facilitate remote work, and generally streamline operations is a boon to businesses that invest in the new tech.
But adopting new technologies — especially those with a lot of bells and whistles — increases the complexity of your systems.
Add to that new complexity the recent stampede to remote work environments, and your processes and systems just got really complicated. Multiple delivery models, processes, vendors, and data are in the mix. With greater complexity comes greater risk, which is why cybersecurity governance is so very important to your organization.
What Is Cybersecurity Governance?
While your system complexity is increasing, your IT budget isn’t necessarily keeping pace. It’s crucial that you have competent, knowledgeable people tasked with securing your business-critical applications and data.
But when a complex system is continually growing and evolving, it’s easy for various aspects to go overlooked.
Cybersecurity governance is the idea that every part of your information security risk management program should have an owner. An owner is a person or team whose responsibility it is to ensure that:
- Processes and infrastructure are regularly tested and updated for security
- Team members know how to recognize and react to incidents quickly and effectively
- Newly identified risks are correctly flagged for planners
To achieve this, you’ll need to encourage a forward-focused cybersecurity awareness mindset in your team. This will enable you to ensure accountability in the event that a system fails to cope with an incident.
Why Does Governance Matter?
Cybersecurity risks are ever evolving and expanding. 69% of companies see compliance mandates driving spending, and a lack of cybersecurity governance can leave your company vulnerable to attacks from outside actors as well as current or former employees. Thoughtful governance ensures your business can:
- Align IT operating strategies with business objectives
- Create effective oversight mechanisms
- Integrate risk and control activities
- Optimize resources
- Streamline business and auditing processes
- Collect higher quality assessment data for future security refinements
IT strategy, managed solutions, and holistic procedural improvements — combined with best practices based on The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework — are key to ensuring that you’re prepared for incidents and compliant with government and industry standards. (This can be pivotal to avoiding litigation in the event of a problem.)
Whether you’re in the public or private sector, an effective cybersecurity governance plan focused on risk management and security awareness will help decrease the risk your organization faces as system complexity increases.
4 Steps to Reduce Your Risk
An effective cybersecurity governance strategy isn’t difficult to implement. In fact, it’s much less complex than the systems that necessitated governance in the first place. But it must be developed in a thoughtful way. A slipshod governance plan dashed off quickly — so you can check off that you did it — won’t be much better than not having one at all.
Define Policies and Goals
Clearly define your risk management policies, strategies, and goals upfront. This will provide a comprehensive roadmap for your cybersecurity governance plan. Ensure policies and goals are widely communicated and understood across your organization. Key components of this step include:
A risk assessment will help you identify and prioritize threats and vulnerabilities
Clarify what level of risk is acceptable and what you’ll do to achieve it
Define how you’ll measure success — you can’t improve what you don’t measure
As you’ve added new technologies and capabilities to your systems, it’s likely that team members in different areas have adapted to the changes in different ways. By standardizing procedures across your organization, you reduce the risk of error or oversight and make it easier for those responsible for security to manage your organization. Make sure there’s a clear, widely communicated process for adding or changing:
- Operating systems
- Network configurations
Standardization makes it easier for you to maintain security by eliminating the need to monitor, troubleshoot, and protect a patchwork of different devices and solutions.
Lead From the Top
The only way your cybersecurity governance program will succeed is with buy-in from top-level leadership. If your executive level isn’t engaged from the beginning (and kept that way), your efforts are doomed to fail. Ensure that your governance plan:
- Fits other organization goals
- Includes a commitment from leaders
- Is fully documented and available for all team members
Once you’ve set goals, standardized processes, and clearly communicated strategy to employees at all levels, designate someone to oversee your cybersecurity governance program and give her or him the power to enforce it. A CISO may be a good choice. Without accountability, staff may quickly revert to old habits and policies and requirements will quickly be ignored.
Your Security Is Our Priority
Are you struggling to implement a cybersecurity governance plan? AISN helps solve your most challenging situations by embedding governance policy, risk management, and compliance awareness into your organization. Contact us for more information on the information security services that our experts can provide.