How can companies improve their security maturity levels?

How can companies improve their security maturity levels

With more than 43 per cent of cyber all attacks aimed at small businesses, it’s essential that you develop solid security practices to protect business assets and critical data. Otherwise, you risk reputational damage, financial losses, and costly downtime. 

But when it comes to improving your company’s security ‘maturity’ levels, where do you start? Let’s take a look.

How to improve your company’s security maturity levels

To be clear, security ‘maturity’ simply means how advanced your cybersecurity processes are. It’s something you can build over time, even with a limited IT or security budget.  Essentially, to boost your maturity levels, your business should do three things: 

  1. Perform a comprehensive risk assessment.
  2. Create a risk-aware security environment.
  3. Take a multi-layered approach to security. 

Let’s work through these steps in turn. 

Perform a comprehensive risk assessment 

Here’s the thing – you can’t effectively protect your infrastructure without first understanding:

  • What assets you have 
  • And how vulnerable each asset is to a security breach

So, your first step must be to perform a risk assessment. Here’s what to do.

Identify your assets

Make a note of all assets you have. Assets include physical property like:

  • Equipment
  • Stocks 
  • Premises

But they also include things like:

  • Intellectual property, e.g. company name 
  • Customer data
  • Business information
  • Brand reputation 

Assess their risk level

Once you’ve identified all your assets, you must identify which assets are most vulnerable to breach, as well as the costs associated with a security breakdown of this asset. An easy way to do this? Brainstorm ‘what if’ scenarios. 

For example, what if someone accesses your premises, steals your equipment, and harvests customer data? What are the financial and reputation consequences?

‘What if’ scenarios can show you where to focus your security efforts.

Decide how to handle the risk 

Now that you’ve identified your security risks, you have three options for dealing with each one. 

  • Accept the risk and take no action. 
  • Transfer some of the burden to a third party, e.g. an insurer or third-party service provider. 
  • Eliminate the risk, if possible. Migrating a function that is not secure by design to a new solution with proper security controls will provide a win/win for your business.
  • Mitigate the risk. This might involve strengthening your on-site security, data encryption, restricting access to sensitive data, and so on. The steps you take depend on the asset in question, the IT budget, and where the asset ranks on your risk priority list.

Create a risk-aware security environment

Even the most comprehensive security measures will fail unless you create a culture of security awareness among your employees. 

  • Ensure employees use strong passwords and change them frequently. 
  • Teach your staff how to spot common security threats such as phishing scams and fraudulent telephone calls. 
  • Make sure it’s clear which employees can ask about any security concerns they’ve identified, e.g. a member of the IT department. 
  • Promote the secure storage and disposal of sensitive, private information.

Most importantly, ensure that everyone understands that they have a role to play in keeping your assets safe from intrusion. If you’re not sure where to start with staff training, consider hiring a managed services provider (MSP) to help. 

Take a multi-layered approach to security

You shouldn’t rely on just one method to protect high-value assets, which is where multi-layered security comes in. Examples of tools you can use include:

  • Data and disk encryption 
  • Multi-factor authentication, e.g. complex passwords plus security answers or fingerprint verification
  • Firewalls 
  • Network monitoring
  • Access controls 
  • Remote wipe capability for mobile devices

Think of multi-layered security as a series of safety nets. If one ‘net’ fails, there’s another level of protection in place to protect your assets (and data) from compromise. 

Prepare contingency plans

Plan for plausible security incident and breach scenarios. What actions should be performed, in what order and by whom? Maintaining a documented plan that details the appropriate response steps to take in different incident scenarios is vital for a swift and effective response.  Undue delay in response could lead to a worse situation than otherwise would have occurred. Key individuals and alternates must be identified and understand their roles in a security incident.  Perform incident simulation exercises to ensure the team is prepared and that your plans are effective.

Takeaway 

Taking action to improve the overall security maturity of your company is vitally important.  Start with a thorough risk assessment and don’t forget to review your security environment regularly to ensure it remains sufficient. Contact us today to learn more.

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