Cyber security strategy can be boiled down to three basic elements. Firstly though, let’s understand what we mean by ‘cyber security strategy’. Your cyber security strategy is the recipe you need in order to build the best cyber security for your business. So, without a strategy in place, much of what we do is aimless and inefficient. This applies to any endeavour, not just cyber security. For instance, if you want to grow your business, do you start cherry-picking random sales-related elements and hope for the best? No, you make a dedicated business strategy with planned elements. So, let’s apply that logic to our cyber security.
“A well-planned and correctly implemented cyber security strategy will help your business avoid a huge amount of damage in the event of a cyber security incident.”
How Will My Business Be Damaged?
Certainly, as a business-owner, it’s critical that you never underestimate the effect and damage that a cyber incident could cause. A cyber incident could be any one of the following (for example):
– Malicious Cyber Attack (e.g. via ransomware)
– Virus infecting your network
– Accidental data breach (e.g. sensitive information emailed to the wrong address)
– Successful phishing attack
So, how do these incidents cause damage to a business? In some cases, irreparable damage? The biggest source of damage is, in short, financial loss. Above all, whether intentional or accidental, a cyber incident will cost you a significant amount of time and money. This generally comes down to investigative costs, loss of productivity and sales, PR and legal costs, and IT security auditing and security management.
Secondly, additional damage to the business often strikes in the form of reputation damage and loss of clients due to a breach of trust. In other words, a majority of consumers stated that they would switch providers in the event of a data breach (regardless of fault!). That fact alone should give you a mighty incentive to prevent a data breach, however you can.
The 3 Cyber Security Strategy Elements
So, how do we prevent all this damage? With a rock-solid cyber security strategy, of course. A fully-comprehensive and expanded cyber security strategy will have plenty of elements and ways of approaching cyber security. So when we say the three magical elements, we are talking about the three core categories that cyber security strategy falls into. But elements sounds a bit cooler. We’ve divided up the categories into Security Awareness, Risk Prevention and Data Management.
It’s not quite a Venn diagram, we know. However, in order to achieve a truly effective cyber security strategy, you need all three elements together. In other words, any two on their own are insufficient to protect your data and your business. Let’s go over each category separately:
1. Security Awareness
Above all, security awareness is about understanding your cyber security environment, identifying security vulnerabilities and creating a culture of cyber security within the workplace. Why is this an essential part of a cyber security strategy? Because ultimately, without this awareness, you’re just guessing at what needs to be done.
Moreover, when planning your cyber security strategy, you should begin with building your knowledge of the cyber security environment. Similarly, we have a whole segment on that exact process here, if you want to dive in. But essentially, it comes down to understanding where sensitive information enters your network and which users and devices are responsible for handling it.
In short, with a holistic understanding of your cyber security environment, you will be able to start identifying vulnerabilities; which gives you a great place to start in terms of implementing cyber security tools and policies.
2. Risk Prevention
When we talk about risk prevention, we are talking about the cyber security tools and software that should be implemented as a first-line defence against cyber security incidents. For example, this includes tools like your anti-virus software, your firewall and your password manager.
We recommend following the ACSC’s protocol for mitigating security risks, known as the ‘essential eight’. Overall, these eight methods are an excellent starting point for cyber risk management, as it essentially covers all your starting bases where many cyber vulnerabilities lie.
It should be clear why this is part of your cyber security strategy; because without it, you have no actual defences against cyber incidents. In addition, this part of your cyber security strategy should also cover a cyber security framework. This generally focuses on risk assessment and management within the cyber security environment.
3. Data Management
When we talk about data management, we mean all the related protocols and security surrounding data. Certainly, a cyber attack or data breach is intended to steal or corrupt sensitive data, right? Data is a valuable commodity amongst attackers; whether it’s to publish or sell the data, or steal corporate secrets. As a business, you are responsible for significant amounts of data. Both internal business data, as well as potentially client-identifying information (addresses, medical information, financial details etc).
So, it’s clear that you need to protect and manage this data effectively. A full cyber security strategy should also therefore include an excellent data management strategy too. Overall, there are three aspects of data management to watch for.
1. The way in which data is accessed by users.
2. The way in data is stored and secured within a system.
3. The way in which data is transferred between users and networks.
On that note, we recommend several best practice strategies that every business should include in their data management strategy:
It’s worth noting that this is not a fully comprehensive list of data management strategies. However, it’s an excellent starting point in terms of securing and managing sensitive data within your business. In addition, consider aspects like what cloud service you use to store data, and implementing a consistent and tested backup and restore protocol.
Cyber Security Strategy in Australia
With a number of cyber security focused agencies within the Australian government, it’s encouraging to see that we have adopted a cyber security strategy as a country. Most importantly, it shows that government agencies are learning to keep up with the modern cyber world; which inevitably means increasing cyber security and working to prevent attacks.
Likewise, many government agencies have developed their own internal cyber security strategy. That is to say, how they will work within the cyber security environment to provide optimal services and security.
Likewise, the Australian government’s cyber security strategy focuses on a number of goals, which are designed to encompass the vision for a future cyber security environment. As a result, the approach of a nation-wide cyber security strategy does look very different to what you’d expect. Your cyber security strategy for your business is more results-focused on protecting your data and security. A nationwide cyber security strategy is goals-focused on working towards a cyber-secure environment.
“In the world of cyber security, if you are standing still you are going backwards. The cyber security environment is constantly evolving, and we need to be adaptive and proactive.”– Dan Tehan, MP (Cyber Security Strategy, Annual Update 2017).
1. A National Cyber Partnership
Governments, businesses and the research community together advance Australia’s cyber security.
2. Strong Cyber Defences
Australia’s networks and systems are hard to compromise and resilient to cyber attacks.
3. Global Responsibility and Influence
Australia actively promotes an open, free and secure cyberspace.
4. Growth and Innovation
Australian businesses grow and prosper through cyber security innovation.
5. A Cyber Smart Nation
Australians have the cyber security skills and knowledge to thrive in the digital age.
You can read the full strategy in depth on the Department of Home Affairs.
Building Your Cyber Security Strategy
So, while we’ve talked all about the core foundation of building a strong cyber security strategy; it can be daunting to start. Every cyber security strategy should include numerous methods of cyber protection. We have a comprehensive list of cyber security techniques and policies that every business should refer to when building a cyber security strategy.
However, getting started by yourself can seem like an overwhelming task. At Stanfield IT, we are experienced with cyber security strategy; from cyber security auditing to planning a new strategy. Project implementation and then ongoing management.
Contact our awesome team for a discussion on how your cyber security strategy could be improved.