Cyber Security is an investment, not an expense. This is critical for CISOs, Managers, and employers alike to understand when it comes to budgeting for cyber preparedness and implementing the right changes at the right time. It can be difficult to prioritize expenses in the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of corporate cybersecurity.

At a high level, the process for setting a cybersecurity strategy has to start with a view into what the current state of risk looks like. Then we assess what changes in control/risk posture would result from investments. Finally, we derive what a future state might look like after an investment.

A risk assessment executive summary should be your primary aid in determining:     

  • The size of your attack surface.
  • Vulnerabilities (from greatest to least importance).
  • The probability and impact of being breached via the organization’s various vulnerabilities.
  • An estimated scope of deploying controls and countermeasures.
  • A suggested timeline towards addressing gaps and a suggested date of reassessment to be performed annually.

Let’s take a closer look at some recommendation’s security leaders can take to maximize their return on a security investment:

  1. Assess Risks, Assets, and Resources
  2. The CISO or CIO should fully evaluate the systems, applications, data and critical business assets that could pose a significant risk to the organization. The evaluation needs to take place before the CISO steps foot into the C-suite room to support security. The findings of the evaluation will be introductory to the security programs goals and budget recommendations. Certain people, processes, and technology procured. The needs served will be specific to each business. The models provided by industry frameworks can assist security leaders in reshaping priorities and identifying gaps or vulnerabilities to the business.

  3. Identity and Access Management Strategy
  4. The 2017 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report found that 88 percent of hacking-related breaches leveraged stolen or weak passwords. It is important to approach security with IAM being a major subset of security with a unified strategy which includes a single set of controlling policies that apply to all systems, a single user identity, a single set of parameters controlling access and management. Recommend taking basic steps to ensure all doors are locked, this includes using multi-factor authentication, keeping systems patched and up to date, encrypting sensitive data, and securing privileged accounts. Implementing modern IAM tools helps minimize the attack surface and helps stop unauthorized access to critical systems. MFA can eliminate vulnerabilities from stolen or weak passwords across your critical infrastructure.

  5. Hire and Train Good People
  6. It stands to reason that one of the best investments in a security program is an effective staff. In such a tight market for employers seeking high-level personnel outside the organization, the organization may look internally and invest in training employees who otherwise might not have been considered a security career. This also helps to save money. By training and recruiting people that are already part of the organization to work in security, CISOs can offer opportunities for professional growth while building their security team and leveraging the employee’s knowledge. If an organization has the funds the best investment will always be to hire one ready to make a positive impact, improve workflows, security governance, compliance, risk management, etc.

  7. Invest in Security Culture
  8. An effective cybersecurity strategy must include a corporate culture in which the employees value and understand the importance of security. However, organizations continue to struggle with establishing a security culture with the majority of incidents occurring internally. This can be from phishing emails, weak passwords, to sharing confidential sensitive information outside of the organization. Building a security culture into your business means getting all employees from the security team to the C-suite to feel invested in the company’s security and risk posture. Investments in the security culture could include due diligence such as secure development life cycle program, risk management program, security awareness, and training program and a reward program for any employee who can demonstrate compliance and report any incidents that they may have witnessed.

    There is no simple answer to complex questions on how to best distribute the security budget. It will vary from business to business. The key for the organization is to conduct a thorough maturity or risk assessment on the organization’s current security posture and culture, along with a detailed evaluation of how implementing specific people, processes or technologies can benefit business goals and enable the company vision, giving the CISO a road map for how to spend and prioritize security investments.