6 Ways to Align Your Cybersecurity Strategy & Business Goals
What is your objective of implementing cybersecurity in business? The answer might vary between a security professional and a business executive. The former is solely focused on identifying potential security risks and avoiding or mitigating them. The latter is focused on the bottom line, growth, and increasing profits.
However, you should never sacrifice cybersecurity to reach other business goals. Cybersecurity is now more critical than ever due to advances in technology. Businesses are adopting rapidly evolving digital transformations to remain relevant and competitive.
These transformations include cloud adoption, automation, machine learning, and big data analysis, and all are vulnerable to cyberattacks. Yet, despite the obvious cybersecurity concerns, many businesses still don’t consider it a top priority or a going concern. They end up sacrificing investing in cybersecurity to achieve other business objectives.
Cybersecurity should be an enabler and facilitator not a business prevention function. It needs to align with your business goals to protect you every step of the way.
Why Invest in Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity threats are a significant risk to your entire organization and are not only limited to your information technology assets. A cyber event has severe consequences for your business, such as heavy financial penalties, data loss, loss of business reputation, and could even lead to shutting down entirely.
Cyber threats come in different shapes and sizes and employ various tactics to create chaos, especially for unprepared and unprotected organizations and their stakeholders. Malware, DDoS, man-in-the-middle, and phishing attacks are some sophisticated methods malicious actors use. What’s more, each attack preys on different weaknesses to infiltrate organizations be it via human error, end-points, apps, or network vulnerabilities.
Knowing where to start your cybersecurity protection can be confusing due to the many competing priorities. Thus, it is easy for senior management with little appreciation for the threat cybersecurity poses to forego investing in it in favor of growing other business functions.
The challenge is harder for organizations that don’t have a full-time cybersecurity specialist on the team. Still. Whatever your size and sophistication, you need a sound cybersecurity strategy to ensure you manage your risks. However, it’s also critical that the strategy meets your other business needs and objectives.
What Happens When You Don’t Make Cybersecurity a Priority?
Today’s business world is highly interconnected. Additionally, new threats emerge daily from bad actors and vulnerabilities created due to a widening attack surface and enhanced communications. Today’s employees are easily trackable from their mobile phones and fitness gadgets.
Furthermore, employee laptops, cars, TVs, watches, tablets, and even hearing aids are vulnerable. Greater internet connectivity has widened the attack surface, including all smart and connected things from office bulbs, home alarm systems, appliances, and pacemakers.
Unfortunately, business managers often have numerous reasons and excuses for not prioritizing cybersecurity. These include numerous daily business operations, the belief that cybersecurity costs too much, or the belief it holds back innovation.
There are numerous ways cybercriminals can impact your organization, including:
- Infecting your devices with malware such as viruses and spyware
- Using ransomware to shut down operations and extort money
- Unauthorized access and theft of sensitive business data
- Phishing and malicious email attacks
- Targeting third-party businesses or suppliers
- Launching denial of service attacks that shut down your business operations
Often, large companies have robust cybersecurity strategies in place than smaller businesses. Cyberattacks can result in the following:
- Disruption of operations
- Destruction of business data
- Stolen data, intellectual property, and funds
- Loss of customer and employee trust
- Loss of business reputation
- Costs of regulatory fines, legal action, and impact on associated businesses
- Business shutdown
The average cost of a 2021 cybersecurity data breach in Canada was $6.35m according to the Cyber Threat Bulletin while IBM Security puts it at $6.75m.
The Solution to Prioritizing Cybersecurity
Most people assume cybersecurity’s primary function is reducing operational risks by eliminating the dangers hackers and viruses pose. However, it’s time to reposition cybersecurity and educate senior management on its potential as a growth enabler and not a growth inhibitor.
As long as senior management view cybersecurity as a growth inhibitor, they will always take it as an afterthought as opposed to aligning it to business goals.
Digital transformation has created an intense and competitive business environment. Agile organizations are getting the upper hand over their competitors by using cutting-edge technologies to make innovative products and services, reduce their operational costs, provide better customer experiences, and much more.
The key enablers for digitalization involve cloud, mobility, collaboration, and big data. Therefore, organizations need to embed security in the entire business ecosystem and make it sufficiently agile to adapt and cater to the data volume and speeds that daily transactions require. It should also be capable of handling the complexity of digital world threats.
So, what is the solution?
The solution lies in aligning your cybersecurity strategy and organizational objectives. What this means is that you start with your business objectives then assess the potential risks. Below are some strategies to help you:
1. Know the Business Goals and Objectives Inside Out
One of the primary challenges of aligning cybersecurity with business objectives is that information security executives, such as Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), are too concerned about cybersecurity and not the business objectives. On the other hand, business executives are concerned with business objectives and the bottom line at the expense of cybersecurity.
Additionally, each stakeholder in the organization might have different security and business concerns. For example, the CFO might be worried about the cost of security infrastructure and losses due to security concerns, while the marketing manager is thinking about the success of an upcoming campaign.
Therefore, it’s essential to explore the following areas to see how cybersecurity should align with business goals:
- Compliance with regulations and policies
- Market trust and brand reputation
- Data assurance, security, and integrity
- Availability and performance
- Cost efficiency in implementing cybersecurity controls
- Organizational culture, policy, and governance
Additionally, maintaining two-way discussions between management and employees is critical for the cybersecurity team to prioritize essential areas to help achieve organizational objectives.
2. Implement Cybersecurity Automation
Implementing cybersecurity automation helps free up valuable time and resources. Human resources remain an organization’s most critical asset, but human errors are also often its most significant security vulnerability. Therefore, automating cybersecurity can help eliminate or reduce these errors.
Additionally, automation helps free up your employees’ time, allowing them to concentrate on their core competencies and pursue organizational objectives.
3. Upgrade Connectivity to Improve Productivity and Cybersecurity
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in remote working becoming the norm in 2020 and 2021. Still, many companies will likely continue with some form of remote working post-COVID. It means more employees are actively accessing cloud resources and using personal devices from home.
Therefore, organizations must ensure a reliable and secure connectivity solution such as SD-WAN (Software Defined-Wide Area Network). SD-WAN offers:
- Better Security: It allows businesses to integrate security directly into the connection, such as integrating VPNs, IPS, sandboxing, encryption, and firewalls
- Reliability: It prioritizes critical applications, ensuring reliable connectivity for employees
- Centralized Management: It enables easy integration of essential security functions into a given location, enabling better efficiency
Integrating security-focused connectivity solutions, such as SD-WAN, can help organizations align cybersecurity with business goals by ensuring fast, secure, and reliable networks at all times.
4. Establish a Security-Focused Organizational Culture
Since human resources are the most essential (and also most vulnerable) security assets of an organization, it is necessary to ensure regular cybersecurity training. It allows them to better spot different forms of cybersecurity attacks, especially social engineering and phishing attacks.
Training helps build awareness and knowledge among your end-users, which leads to the creation of security-focused company culture. Remember that:
- Your employees must understand the signs and symptoms of key attack vectors to better recognize threats in real-world situations and act quickly
- Communication is key and you should establish updated, clear, and two-way communication channels about cybersecurity
- It’s essential to monitor and evaluate your progress regularly, including updating employees with new training modules when necessary
Creating an organization-wide cybersecurity culture requires both commitment and awareness from management and employees.
5. Recognize Cybersecurity as a Prerequisite and not the End Goal
Treating cybersecurity as an end goal instead of a prerequisite and a going concern is a common mistake many organizations make. You need cybersecurity to achieve your end goals (business objectives). Hence, every cybersecurity initiative you undertake should consider the related objective it is pursuing.
Additionally, your cybersecurity team should assess the different options and possible outcomes of a given business objective rather than forcing cybersecurity ideas for the sake of security. Cybersecurity teams should not take up the role of an overprotective parent since it risks hindering performance and innovation.
6. Involve the Cybersecurity Team Early and All the Way
Since cybersecurity is a going concern and not the end goal, it’s essential to keep your cybersecurity team always in the loop. Ensure that they know your objectives and how you wish to achieve them. They can then use the information to assess the security risks moving forward and take appropriate steps to manage, mitigate, or avoid them.
It may require new technical controls or organizational measures such as:
- New procedures and standards
- Improved user awareness training
- Updated policies
- Good supplier security management
- Improved personnel security
If the risks are still high after implementing cybersecurity controls, your executives must sign off on tolerating them before proceeding. You should also address the issue in your incident response plan.
Pure IT Can Help with Your Cybersecurity Strategy
If you need help developing your cybersecurity strategy, aligning it to your business objectives, carrying out risk and impact assessments, and integrating it into your company culture, Pure IT can help. We are the go-to Calgary cybersecurity provider.
Pure IT offers a range of top solutions such as network security, managed threat response and security services, multifactor authentication, and penetration and vulnerability testing. Contact us today for help with your cybersecurity requirements and aligning them to your business objectives.
Thanks to Ashu at Orion Networks in Columbia, MD for his help with this research. Learn more about their services at https://www.orionnetworks.net/it-services-in-columbia-md/