The volume of cyber threats against computer networks has increased significantly over the past couple of years. This is attributed to the increase in the diversification and sophistication of techniques that hackers use. With data becoming an increasingly valuable asset to organizations and hackers alike, there’s great significance in establishing and fortifying your cybersecurity framework.
What’s a Cybersecurity Framework?
This is a series of documents and statutes that define the best practices that your organization should follow to secure its data environment. A cybersecurity framework helps to reduce your organization’s exposure to vulnerabilities. It comprises rules, practices, and measures that showcase the safety of your organization’s data environment.
Typically, cybersecurity frameworks are developed through concerted efforts by businesses and regulatory agencies. Besides enabling organizations to foretell and mitigate potential risks, a cybersecurity framework enables you to cultivate a security-first culture. If applied correctly, cybersecurity frameworks can enable IT teams to manage their organization’s cyber threats more intelligently. Your organization can adopt an existing framework such as the NIST Cyber Security Framework or set up its own framework.
Cybersecurity frameworks have five core functions. Most of the decisions you’ll make in the event of a cyber-attack are based on these functions. Here are the functions of a cybersecurity framework:
- The Identify Function
This helps you create a hierarchical comprehension as you oversee the cybersecurity framework’s implementation by different stakeholders within your organization.
- The Protect Function
You implement a cybersecurity framework to protect your data environment. The protect function underpins your framework’s capacity to minimize or mitigate the effect of a potential incident.
- The Detect Function
A good cybersecurity framework should enable you to recognize a security incident early. The detect function highlights your framework’s ability to reveal cybersecurity threats before they become incidents.
- The Respond Function
How well your organization responds to a cybersecurity incident determines it’s standing in the industry as well as its profitability. A cybersecurity framework’s response function enables you to know what to do to contain the potential fallout from a cybersecurity incident.
- The Recovery Function
A cybersecurity incident can significantly impede operations at your organization. A cybersecurity framework outlines disaster recovery plans to follow so that you reestablish your operational abilities within a short time.
Creating a Cybersecurity Framework
Often, many organizations mirror their internal cybersecurity frameworks on the NIST cybersecurity framework. Here’s how to set up a cybersecurity framework for your organization.
Define the Scope of Your Cybersecurity Program
Organizations have unique business objectives, ethos, and setup. When establishing a cybersecurity framework, you should start by defining the scope of your cybersecurity program. Consider your organization’s priorities, objectives, and corporate mission before selecting the business unit or process that requires a cybersecurity program. Assets and systems that support data-related business units and processes also need to be mapped out. This way, you’ll be able to identify what needs to be protected against possible attacks.
Identify Your Vulnerabilities and Threats
Every aspect of your organizational setup has vulnerabilities, which cybercriminals can leverage to intrude on your network. Therefore, you should identify weak points at each business unit or process. Thereafter, evaluate your organization’s approach to threats as well as your risk tolerance.
Since there are many regulations regarding data security, it’s equally important to determine the regulatory requirements applicable to organizations in your industry. This way, it will be easier to ensure compliance with different regulations as you implement your cybersecurity framework.
Evaluate Your Potential and Emerging Risks
Your organization’s cybersecurity framework should be guided by the risk management process that you have in place. Leverage previous risk management activities to guide the organization’s risk assessment. By analyzing your operational environment, you will easily identify and assess cybersecurity risks, events, and threats. Likewise, it enables you to determine the likelihood that such events could occur, and their potential impacts. While evaluating your risks, you shouldn’t focus on the problem areas alone, but also what’s working.
Once you have a deep understanding of the risks you face and the potential impacts on your organization, start identifying gaps in your cybersecurity strategy. This entails identifying relevant actions you can take to improve your cybersecurity stance and your cybersecurity framework in general. With a clear image of your cybersecurity defenses’ health, it will be easier to implement the new strategies you put in place.
Implement an Action Plan
After identifying the potential risks you face and the gaps in your cybersecurity strategy, you should address those gaps. Determine actions you can take to prevent hackers from taking advantage of gaps inherent in your cyber defenses to attack you. The organization’s cybersecurity practices should be adjusted to reflect the new policy that you have in place.
Regardless of the industry you operate in, having a cybersecurity framework is imperative since it helps you tackle the ever-looming threat of cyber-attacks. It helps you to gauge your cybersecurity preparedness and understand your risk tolerance levels better. If you want to know which cybersecurity frameworks to use, take a look at this article.
Jordan MacAvoy is Vice President of Marketing at Reciprocity Labs and manages the company’s go-to-market strategy and execution. Prior to joining Reciprocity, Jordan served in executive roles at Fundbox, a Forbes Next Billion Dollar Company, and Intuit, via their acquisition of the SaaS marketing and communications solution, Demandforce.