The Cyber-Security Playbook for CISOs in the New Normal

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The Cyber-Security Playbook for CISOs in the New Normal

Every day, CISOs encounter new and insurmountable challenges. With ever-changing cyber environments, threat environments, cyber skills shortages, and an unprecedented amount of remote work, proactive cybersecurity defenses are critical for businesses.

With the proliferation of technology and connectedness in today’s economy and society, the possibility of a cyber-attack has become a question of when not if. It is the responsibility of CISOs to ensure that controls and policies are in place to help manage risk, as the current global volatility has increased the risk ante for all enterprises. Fraudulent SMS, ransomware attacks, phishing emails, Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks and other threats have previously been identified and prioritized by CISOs. But, to stay ahead of the curve, how can organizations double down on cybersecurity?

Recognize that the security playbook has changed

Because the landscape has evolved, so must the playbook. Previously, threat actors focused on ransomware or phishing operations, motivated by monetary gain. There are fewer financially driven attacks and more attempts to disrupt or shut down specific networks or services with nation-state activities, including DDoS attacks.

There will be more backbone-level attacks than breaches and infiltration, affecting continuity and availability. Threat actors may target resources that allow people to communicate and exchange information freely.

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Mobilize the Entire Business

Leaders must also establish and maintain robust cyber-culture, involving everyone in the associated vigilance, defense, and response efforts. Management must set the tone for the importance of cybersecurity as a competitive differentiator from the top down. This entails having a clear and up-to-date understanding of threats, executing regular exercises per that understanding, and then exchanging insights on response performance and lessons learned. Leaders must ensure that effective cybersecurity practices are instilled, maintained, and rewarded throughout the workforce.

They should also provide processes for employees to raise any vulnerability observations or cyber concerns and reward those who do so. In the event of an attack, the organization must be able to quickly and efficiently investigate the fundamental reasons for how and why the attack was so damaging — without engaging in a blame game — and then distill the findings into constructive action plans. These actions have a significant impact. They can be measured, and leaders must ensure that someone is keeping track of the results.

Establish Clear Priorities to Reduce Cyber Risk

The threat of a cyber-attack, like any other risk, must be managed. This begins with identifying a company’s most vulnerable spots and most valuable assets and then prioritizing defensive operations accordingly.

Mission-critical functions require the most attention and protection. Organizations can move to biometrics-based control capabilities to lessen the risk of cyber-attacks facilitated by compromised passwords. Cyber vaults can store immutable copies of critical data or software, allowing businesses to reduce downtime, disruption, and cost of a ransomware attack. The mix of new and legacy technology used by an organization, the range of third parties involved, the balance of domestic and international activities, and other factors influence the return on investment. Companies must focus on adopting realistic yet strategic efforts to mitigate cyber risk.

No business can address every potential flaw at once, and with the industry still suffering from a cybersecurity skills shortage, covering all the bases becomes much more difficult. But this is all the more reason to have a well-defined strategy and review and update regularly.

Engage with Suppliers 

No organization can be considered a cyber-island. Thanks to extensive interconnected supply chains, threat actors have more opportunities to compromise networks.

Because supply chains are only as strong as their weakest link, businesses must thoroughly assess suppliers, ensuring that their cyber defenses are adequate and understand what to do if the worst comes. Organizations must also scan their software supply chains for vulnerabilities. Most importantly, there must be proven, tested, and well-understood playbooks for when a supply chain is breached. This will help all parties involved know what to do and how to communicate and recover.

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