Planning for the future success of your business means planning for potential failures too, especially when it comes to cyber security. Business leaders need to know that their organization’s IT security solution can successfully respond to recover from the inevitable successful attack just as well as it can prevent a security incident. A strategic cybersecurity plan is effective in helping organizations achieve the right balance between IT security, investment costs, and employee productivity. Growing businesses are a prime target for cybercriminals looking to exploit the vulnerabilities that often accompany growth: inconsistent implementation of processes and policies, rogue department-specific cloud applications, and decentralized data storage and management, and more. Today’s businesses face a unique challenge: balancing cyber security and employee productivity to maintain an optimal level of business resilience over time.

We find businesses we work with are often unaware of a number of the existing IT security vulnerabilities within their environment. These vulnerabilities are generally revealed when we onboard a new client or through a thorough IT audit. A few of the risks we uncover can include:  

  • Insufficient and undocumented IT Security policies and procedures 
  • Lack of enforcement of the policies and procedures 
  • A lack of organization structure and permissions  
  • Rogue cloud software accounts  
  • Poor employee cyber security habits 
  • Inadequate disaster recovery and business continuity plan

A cyber security plan is often accompanied by an 18-24-month roadmap that addresses your long-term IT security risks by priority of their impact. The following sections cover what goes into creating and implementing a cyber security plan and IT security roadmap. 

What Is a Strategic Cyber Security Plan?  

A cyber security plan is a living document that outlines your business’s cyber security priorities and initiatives. The roadmap needs to address the priorities by business impact potential, establish why these initiatives are important, when they will be addressed, what resources are required, and how they can be executed to minimize business downtime and unplanned costs. The strategic alignment of business vision, goals, and resources helps to pave the way for executive buy-in. An established vision for success provides a clear path forward for building a strong IT security defense and culture of cyber security awareness.  

A strong cyber security plan will cover security threat prevention, detection, response, and recovery, not just one of the above.

According to Datto, ransomware attacks remained the number one malware threat facing growing businesses in 2020 and the downtime costs are nearly 50X greater than the average requested ransom.  

In other words, affording the ransom is not the real concern. Business downtime and data loss can cost your business much more than the ransom itself. The average cost of downtime in 2020 was 94% greater than in 2019, incurring an average of $274,200 per ransomware attack.  

A cybersecurity plan takes the “what is” and the “what ifs” into account and outlines a game plan for tackling current and potential risks by priority of business impact. A comprehensive plan often includes:  

  • Alignment of business goals and IT objectives  
  • IT security risk assessment 
  • Audit and consolidation of data assets and technologies  
  • IT security threat prevention tools, policies, & procedures   
  • 18-24 month cyber security roadmap and budget  
  • Data governance policy & information security program 
  • IT security incident response plan  
  • Measurable IT security KPIs 
  • Cyber security awareness education and training for employees  
  • Routine testing, training, and refinement  

Building a Cyber Security Plan: 4 Key Steps for Business Resilience   

A cyber security plan provides a long-term guide for addressing your most pressing IT security risks, tackling future cyber security initiatives and investments, and building a culture of cyber security awareness among your employees. Its primary goal is to maintain a strong security posture despite changes in the business and the cyber threat landscape.  The following sections provide a high-level overview of what it takes to build and maintain a strategic IT security plan for your business.  

Step 1: Explore, Discover & Prioritize IT Security Risks  

A team of capable security professionals can help improve your IT security position. by engaging your company’s key stakeholders in a deep-dive IT security assessment that evaluates your environment, you can work with your IT team to prioritize information security risks, so you know what to address and when. 

A thorough cyber risk assessment often evaluates both the technology and human aspects of your organization’s security posture. By taking a deep dive into your operations, you gain a better understanding of where and how your company’s sensitive data is being used. Your IT services provider can work with your leadership team members to answer questions like:  

  • What qualifies as business-critical and/or sensitive data? 
  • Where is this data stored and how is it secured? 
  • Who really needs access to what data and when? 
  • What compliance regulations and/or industry standards are you responsible for upholding?  
  • Are your employees guilty of poor physical IT security habits 
  • And more. 

Step 2: Align IT Security Initiatives with the Business Vision   

Your company’s approach to information security needs to align with its broader IT roadmap and the executive team’s primary business objectives. A comprehensive IT security plan thoroughly addresses the gaps in your current cyber defense and uses a best practice security framework such as the NIST cybersecurity framework to set a baseline for measuring the performance of future risk management efforts.  

Step 3: Create a Cyber Security Roadmap for Business Resilience Planning  

Your managed IT services provider can help you build a cyber security roadmap that aligns with the leadership team’s business goals and paves a path for continual business operations. The plan is designed to account for the measured refinement of IT threat prevention, detection, incident response, and disaster recovery performance over an 18–24-month period. In addition, it clearly outlines the people, processes, and technology initiatives necessary to align your security measures with your best-practice framework. 

The purpose of a cyber security roadmap is to clearly define the organization’s current security posture and the key stakeholder vision for optimal IT security to frame what needs to happen to work towards this vision and when. Your cyber security roadmap needs to account for both technology implementations and cultural initiatives like launching an education and training program to improve employee cyber security awareness.  

Step 4: Refine Your IT Security Strategy for Optimal Business Resilience   

Business goals, operations, and priorities evolve and change with time, but so do cyber threats. Optimizing IT security is a continuous cycle of assessing cyber risks, mitigating cybersecurity threats, and refining crisis management processes around and responding to incidents like a data breach or cyber attack. Stagnant recovery plans often do not meet an organization’s RTO and RPO needs because these needs change alongside the business’s industry demands and cyber threat landscape. 

Business continuity planning and long-term resilience depend on your ability to measure, refine, and strategically repeat this process iteration after iteration. When mapping or adjusting your cyber security strategy, involve key members from the executive team, IT, HR, legal, operations, and other department leaders whose input can provide visibility into the core objectives and vulnerabilities within your organization. Use the agreedupon IT security KPIs to measure the success of your efforts and identify when and how to make adjustments to your plan as needed, and strategically repeat the process.  

Start Building a Cyber Security Plan You Can Trust   

While a cyber security plan is a key component to protecting your business and customer data, IT security is only one piece of our Framework for Successful IT. We use this framework to deliver best-fit cyber security solutions to our clients and act as a partner to their business as we cover all aspects of their IT strategy, design, implementation, and support. IT security spans all four pieces of the framework and is vital to the health of your business and the success of your IT solution.  

If you’re ready to start building your cyber security plan and roadmap, schedule time to speak with a member of our team today.