As threats of data security breaches proliferate, it takes a cyber risk expert to pinpoint your vulnerabilities and help you develop an effective cyber strategy for your organisation.  Most, if not all businesses know the importance of protecting themselves against cyber threats. If your organisation is breached the consequences can be serious, both reputationally and thanks to GDPR financially.


Therefore, it’s important to have an effective cyber strategy, but it’s not always easy to put something in place that provides comprehensive coverage. The work doesn’t stop at implementation, either the strategy needs to be regularly reviewed to ensure continued compliance with legislative and regulatory requirements, as well as adhering to internal rules.


Ownership of Cyber Security Strategy

In order to build a functional and comprehensive cyber security strategy, you need to have a mandate at the most senior level of the organisation.  The implications of GDPR on data security need to be understood and built into the plan and the senior executives must ensure both they and senior managers are aware of their responsibilities.


Overview of Cyber Risk Management

Cyber Risk Management, is only defined as the combination of policies, personnel, processes, and technologies that aid organisations to achieve a level of exposure in a manner that is cost effective. Cyber-attacks continue getting large and growing with the growing times. This is costing individuals as well as companies millions of money. Organisations all over are struggling with regular monitoring, communication between cyber security and business models.


Entrepreneurs and business owners see Cyber Risk management as the next evolution in security for organisations and enterprise technology risks. This is however specific to organisations that rely highly on digital platforms to run their businesses. 


Advantages of a cyber-risk management system

Some of the benefits of cyber-risk management is that one; it is aimed at meeting the firm’s objective of cost-effectiveness. If an organisation succeeds in managing its risks effectively, it is most likely to lower loss instances. On this front, it can compete effectively with other firms in the economy and hence remain competitive. Secondly, cyber-risk management systems help in achieving the organisation’s goals.


Foundation of cyber risk management

To build a strong foundation for cyber risk management, the following five elements are composed of this foundation set up. These elements include one; clear decisions. These decisions build-up on to a well-thought-of risk management framework. Secondly, the risk management system should be cost-effective. This means that it should aim at reducing losses incurred by the firm.


Besides, the risk management system should relay accurate models of risk and of explicit risk management framework that can roll over into real life. Finally, the management system should be comparable with other risk management systems elsewhere. These systems in different organisations help to strengthen our risk management system.


Elements of an Effective Cyber Risk Management System

The first element is a Risk. A risk is defined as a function of threats, controls and various impact factors that drive the level of loss exposure. Second, is the Cyber Risk Management system itself. This should be composed of multiple decisions and an implementation framework. The decisions are connected to risk governance that has to be implemented. Execution of the system hence serves as a function of the decisions laid before. Feedback is the third and final element. The feedback should be related to cyber threat intelligence and losses; various metrics regard conditions that affect implementation. Feedback is essential as it aids during the impact assessment of the cyber risk management framework.  


Cyber Security Strategy

Outsourcing some or all of the actual work will be attractive to many organisations. Advantages to this approach include a fresh perspective, access to skills that might not be available in-house, and the ability to work faster than if internal staff, with their ongoing role responsibilities, take the work on. But external support needs to be very well directed and managed, to ensure the right outcomes are achieved. Collaboration with an external organisation, rather than total outsourcing, may be a better way forward.


It’s also vital that a cyber security strategy is scoped as a business enabler, not something that will get in the way of people trying to do their jobs.  Success requires more than just threat detection and compliance. A good security strategy should always complement the business strategy rather than stifling it.  Organisations also need to bear in mind that a strategy must be both comprehensive and achievable.


All aspects relating to the protection of data need to be considered. This includes examining security of physical locations and employee access, data storage, data backups, network security, compliance and recovery procedures, and  all devices.


Before rolling out any strategy, you should do a full software audit of your organisation. As a minimum, you need to record all software in use, where it was sourced, what the contractual agreements are for payment, how frequently and through what mechanism it’s updated, is this done in house and if so by whom, how often, where are the update logs kept, and who has ownership.


This might be a bigger task than you think. Ownership might not be with the IT team  indeed, you may find software that’s crept in completely under the radar. In all these scenarios, you need to establish whether or not the owner fully aware of their responsibilities and, if they’re not, educate them or consider moving ownership over to the IT department.


What about people and partners?

A cyber security strategy needs to take account of the risk people can bring. People are often the weakest link in security, therefore it is important to ensure all employees are well trained on aspects such as cyber security best practices like phishing and data sharing practices, keeping software updated, unique strong passwords, enabling two-factor authentication and so on.


Within enterprises, senior IT management will be most enthusiastic to introduce the security awareness component of a cyber security strategy, because they realise the risks that stem from uneducated employees. Simply, awareness reduces the number of threats they have to detect and remediate.


For senior business managers, security training may be viewed as an unwanted disruption to workflow, harming productivity. In response to such complaints, IT leaders must highlight that by eliminating security threats, users will be more productive in the long term. After all, security training is much less of a disruption to business than a malicious ransomware attack that infiltrates systems and brings all operations to a stand still.


General staff may not believe or understand the threat level, may not believe it will impact them directly, or else have unsubstantiated faith in their ability to counteract threats. In reality, hacking methods are constantly evolving. If employees’ knowledge doesn’t keep pace, a risk gap widens. To bring employees onboard with awareness training, engaging courses must be delivered that focus not only on the importance of vigilance, but rewarding personnel for enhancing their security behaviours.


An ongoing process

If a comprehensive cyber security strategy is being set up for the first time, it will take a while. There might be some digging around, some forced changes to the ways in which some people work day to day and, depending on your strategy for controlling shadow IT, some disgruntled staff to deal with.


Once this is all done, maintaining the strategy should be an ongoing process, with frequent enough audits to ensure compliance and regular, ongoing messaging to help prevent infractions. Organisations need to maintain their internal standards and conduct regular audits of all connected devices and security risks including physical. 


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