It’s our favorite time of year at BAI Security: National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). And while the crispness of fall is setting in, IT security continues to heat up. Every other day is a headline with a cautionary tale of a recent breach, often closely followed by plans for a new security initiative. 

The result is a global sense of urgency for leaders to prioritize IT security in everything from their organizational strategy and annual budgets down to their day-to-day employee behaviors. But “prioritizing” means something different for every leader—it could be pushing risk prevention to the top of your agenda, converting your data storage methods, or implementing new network security protocols to accommodate remote employees

A recent service provider-led survey of 1,000 security leaders, in partnership with Ponemon Institute, has suggested this discontinuity among what defines “the basics” in IT security is exactly the problem. The report, “Making Security Possible and Achieving a Risk-Oriented Security Posture,” recognizes widespread trends of strategic data security movements, while also finding that those movements are plagued by a lack of foundation.

In fact, investing time on programs like multi-factor authentication or incorporating Zero Trust principles, as do 48% of survey respondents, can actually be counterintuitive to your larger IT security strategy IF you don’t have larger strategic throughlines to inform your security decisions.

It’s a lack of those foundational security defenses that makes organizations’ IT security strategy so slow to change and causes leaders uncertainty about what protocols to centralize in the face of a rapidly evolving threat landscape.

So to kick off NCSAM, we’re breaking this study into three big ideas: metrics, process, and visibility. With these fundamentals in mind, you’ll be able to craft a stronger, more adaptable approach to your IT security that will stand the test of time and cybercriminal innovation.

Big Idea 1 – Cohesive METRICS

The Ponemon study notes that one of the pillars of an effective approach to IT security is having “standardized metrics to measure progress,” as well as to unify risk management and decision-making structures. 

And yet consider the concerning study insights: 58% of IT leaders surveyed identified the lack of a well-defined risk management program as their organization’s biggest vulnerability, yet only 31% of respondents went on to rank risk reduction as a top priority. Further, a worrying 63% displayed an overall lack of assurance in their organization’s understanding of important security metrics and its ability to communicate them.

Having agreed-upon, reliable metrics to consistently inform decision-making and weigh progress isn’t just a benefit to your organization as a whole—metrics also play a key role in helping to reveal specific emerging weaknesses and streamline incident response in ways that maximize coordination. So along with the additive benefits, these prevention/response aids have the potential to curb negative impact in dramatic ways. 

Big Idea 2 – Integrated PROCESSES

Among the biggest reported hindrances to security teams are inefficient processes. One-third of respondents described their teams spending an average of three hours each day manually administering and deploying tools for optimization and integration, and the majority (57%) reported that one security staff member could be responsible for managing up to four tools.

There are both human and technical solutions to explore when it comes to processes. Consider training and assigning specialists, or hiring individuals with a laser focus on specific tools. Diffusing the workload will ensure attacks won’t overwhelm your team or their incident response protocols. 

Additionally, look for tool integrations that automate time-sucking tasks (they’re coming out all the time!). And when a tool simply can’t step up to meet your needs, take on demos of new products that have data and references proving they’ll save your team time while still providing optimal results. (Don’t forget to then manage the introduction of any change for your team with care!).

Big Idea 3 – Expansive VISIBILITY

This third “new basic” may be obvious to most, but visibility, or the scope of sight you have on your assets and the forces threatening them, was a major point of concern for IT leaders in the survey. In fact, an overwhelming 69% of responding organizations indicated less than 50% visibility across all in-person and digital security tools, and 60% cited lack of visibility as the most prominent obstacle to threat detection.

But it’s not just about seeing the threat landscape for the trees. Integrated visibility and cohesion across platforms, including those on premises and in the cloud, is becoming increasingly requisite. The ideal is 100% visibility across all systems at all times.

Still, all teams and systems have natural blind spots, which is where conducting more frequent, more in-depth IT security assessments can prove critical to providing an objective and accurate view of your true security posture. Which brings us to

Big Solutions

Looking for a comprehensive assessment that exceeds security standards while taking the time to consider your unique environment and challenges? BAI Security has an array of expert, affordable services to consider. 

Our IT Security Assessment and HIPAA Risk Assessment are designed to deliver a complete picture of your security posture with a 360-degree view of your organization’s processes and technology. We provide customizable add-ons, tailor-made to address your current infosec capabilities and quickly quash vulnerabilities. For healthcare organizations, the HIPAA Assessment further addresses regulatory compliance.

If you are a financial institution looking to build a complete understanding of your risk posture, consider our IT Risk Assessment, for custom risk management recommendations and clear steps toward remediation, as well as our Controls Audit, to address compliance with GLBA, and NCUA standards.

Don’t go back to the old basics—contact us today to get your security fundamentals up to date and examiner-ready.BIG