Many organization’s cybersecurity teams (or information security teams as they used to be known) continue to struggle to communicate cybersecurity issues to senior leadership. Likewise, senior management also struggles to effectively articulate cybersecurity strategy to technical cybersecurity personnel. It is as though two parts of the same organization speak foreign languages to one another, and each party has a very limited, or no, knowledge of the other party’s language. However, it does not have to be like this.
Why so many organizations struggle with Cyber Security
Failure to communicate issues is most often revealed in grassroots cybersecurity initiatives that have evolved into corporate cybersecurity programs. Typically, this resulted from an enterprise in startup mode implementing solutions to address specific technical challenges. Unfortunately, many organizations continue to employ a similar approach to secure much larger and more complex environments against threats that outmatch the capabilities of their original solutions. No longer simply a technical solution, cybersecurity management has become a business function in today’s industry. As a business function, a greater level of integration with other business units requires a greater level of transparency and performance reporting. The evolution of grassroots cybersecurity programs rarely results in the kind of mature cybersecurity solutions that are aligned with, and address business needs. And why should they? The initial programs were designed to solve technical challenges, such as preventing virus outbreak or infection, stopping cyber attackers from compromising or stealing valuable information. Such initial cybersecurity efforts were neither designed as business functions nor defined in business terms.
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Cyber Security Program Key Success Factors
The following key success factors are common to many successful cybersecurity programs. The programs:
Support and drive strong governance attitudes and actions
Are designed, developed, and implemented in a similar way to other business functions
Adopt a standard framework approach, usable for an extended period of many years with little or no changes to that framework
Are measureable in terms of their effectiveness
Organizations and executives that drive successful cybersecurity programs do so in the same manner as other successful business initiatives. Executives succeed at this not because of industry pressure, but because each aims to improve their organization. Having identified the opportunity, executives evaluate whether the initiative poses additional risks to their organizations and decide whether to accept this additional risk or not. After accepting such risk, executive sponsors continue to evaluate initiatives toward implementation. Even when initiatives are operational, executives still employ strong governance methods, including internal audit teams, to manage and monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of these initiatives. This business approach has become institutionalized across most enterprise units with the exception of IT and cybersecurity. Key stakeholders in IT and cybersecurity often claim that cybersecurity management programs are too technical, only internal facing, or too complex, to properly develop and implement using this approach.
The truth is if these same IT and cybersecurity groups adopted a common framework and designed their cybersecurity management programs based on said framework, cybersecurity management would truly become just a standard business function in their enterprises. Unfortunately, the cybersecurity world does not agree on a standard cybersecurity framework across all countries, industries, and states. Analysis of the commonalities and differences between these standard frameworks show that it is possible to create a universal cybersecurity management framework to address all countries, industries, and states. Such a framework is not firmly associated with any particular cybersecurity standard and can be adapted during implementation to address any specific security standard that organizations using it wishes to follow. This paper introduces a cybersecurity management framework where it is apparent that a successful approach is not too technical, addresses both internal and external concerns, and is not overly complex to implement, operationalize, and manage over the long term.
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Cybersecurity Management Framework
The design of the CyberSecOP cybersecurity management framework (CMF) assumes cybersecurity management is a business function.
The framework, as a business function, is comprised of three discrete pillars with each subsequent layer unfolding increasing levels of specificity as follows:
The Executive Management (Strategy) Pillar directs Governance and Planning initiatives that drive the framework forward to operation.
The Executive Management Pillar requires people to identify why cybersecurity is needed, consider the business issues, and then define, document, and publish the direction the required cybersecurity program will adopt.
The Operations Pillar that defines what the cybersecurity program must address to comply with the requirements specified in the strategy, what supporting functions are needed, and what level of reporting/ governance monitoring should be provided. These needs are supported through the security intelligence, IT and Cybersecurity Assurance and IT Risk Management operations sub-pillars.
The Operations Pillar requires definitions of documented operational standards, processes, procedures, and other collateral that specify what operators should do and how they should do it.
The Tactical (Technology) Pillar defines how required cybersecurity controls mandated in the Operations and Executive Management pillars will be applied to the systems, networks and applications used by the organization and how evidence will be provided to management that the security controls implemented actually address the specific requirements and that they perform their job as expected.
The security controls in the Tactical pillar, whether requiring technology or not, are responsible for securing all aspects of an enterprise computing environment, continuously monitoring the environment for security events, collecting and analyzing captured events, and reporting defined security metrics, some of which are provided to the SLT.
Addressing Cybersecurity Challenges
Although addressing cybersecurity challenges with just three pillars is perfectly possible, adopting and using it in that way is difficult and potentially open to error or misinterpretation. To minimize these issues, these macro-level pillars must be divided into more manageable chunks. The CyberSecOp LocPar subdivides its three macro pillars into seven discrete focus areas:
Executive Management: Key decisions and accountability required to drive the program
IT Risk Management: Reducing risk exposure to the organization to a level acceptable to the SLT and Board of Directors.
Cybersecurity Intelligence: Required to provide the cybersecurity and IT teams with appropriate information to achieve and surpass IT Risk Management goals.
IT and Cybersecurity Assurance: Required to provide evidence to management and especially the SLT that their investments in cybersecurity are delivering the benefits they expected.
Secure Network: Required to support secure, on demand access to information to authorized personnel no matter where it is located within, or external to, the organization.
Secure Systems: Required to provide controlled access to applications, data and devices according to the identity of the requesting party. This focus area also includes how data is protected, whether at rest, or in transit.
Secure Applications: Required to control access to data and other networks, systems and applications according to the identity of the requesting party. For internally developed applications, requirements extend to how the application was designed, developed and managed throughout the whole development lifecycle.
Development, implementation, and maintenance of a cybersecurity management program for an organization is no small undertaking. However, the overall value that organizations achieve through development and implementation of such programs includes reduced instances of successful cyber attacks. Moreover, a cybersecurity management program provides organizations with a means to reduce a successful attack’s impact on the bottom line due to its programmatic predefined approach for identifying and responding to cybersecurity incidents. Read more about cybersecurity management programs and CyberSecOp Cybersecurity Services at https://www.cybersecop.com/