Faced with sharp rises in new strains of malware and more frequent attacks through phishing and social engineering, small and medium-sized businesses throughout Washington DC are realizing the need for strong policies. When meeting this challenge with new cybersecurity policies, leaders often find themselves tackling an area outside their expertise, with evolving threats creating greater urgency.
Perhaps you find yourself leading a business, local government, or CBO that needs stronger cybersecurity. As you develop new policies to protect organizational and customer data, begin with the considerations that follow.
They will prove instrumental to the success of your initiatives for strong cybersecurity in Washington DC.
Start with achieving stakeholder buy-in
Effective cybersecurity measures span the business’ IT infrastructure and platforms various departments use. And that makes it necessary to create alignment between departments from sales to marketing to business operations.
Additionally, any policy development initiative is going to have far-reaching effects. And that means, depending on the size of your organization, it needs the participation and sign-off of the CEO, CTO/CIO, and the board.
The most recent Cisco SMB Cybersecurity Study cites obtaining peer buy-in as a top challenge for 36% of organizations. Making a data-driven case that is tied to business strategy and embraced by senior management tends to be effective for getting stakeholders across the organization on board.
Likewise, policies are merely as effective as the extent to which employees understand and follow them. If yours are going to succeed, you also need a robust internal communications campaign and training that promotes employee compliance.
Achieving stakeholder buy-in and engaging different departments enables uniform policies throughout the organization and higher chances of effectively deploying them.
Isolate specific priority areas
Each organization faces different vulnerabilities. This requires customizing your policies and what you are emphasizing. The ones yours is most prone to are likely the result of its industry and size. Develop a policy, training, and threat awareness mind map that takes special consideration of your sectors’ requirements.
These five are the foundational priority areas that form the core of a strong framework.
Consider each of them as you begin the planning phase of your security improvement initiative, while keeping in mind that they require extensive expansion and adaptation to your organization’s unique position:
- Network security: fortifying your entire “network” for only authorized and secure access, particularly through protecting it against established and emerging threats
- Remote work: ensuring that, as employee tools and systems become more decentralized both remotely and on-site, new workplace vulnerabilities are understood, prioritized, and mitigated.
- Disaster recovery and business continuity: training operations/information technology and employees on data management including data flows and classification, frequent backups, an appropriate level of redundancy for critical data; and a recovery plan to reestablish uptime, limit the cost of intrusion and resume service delivery to customers
- People-centric security guidance: ensuring that employees understand the variety of threats and their role in acting as a line of defense against phishing and social engineering among many other threats, and raising awareness of risks to the company and its assets (including employees themselves)
- Access Control: including employee engagement in developing access control policies and procedures for determining the systems/applications being used; the criticality of the data residing on those systems; who will have access to what; what devices will be allowed to connect, from where, at what times; concepts of least functionality and least privilege; and safeguards such as multi-factor authentication
Having an integrated plan for policies and procedures, as well as a training plan for priority areas also benefits from a fresh set of eyes to test it and provide validity. The validity can be achieved through an audit.
Schedule an audit and/or assessment
With all departments and leadership levels aligned on your cybersecurity initiative, the next step is scheduling an audit. Your audit covers every aspect of your business’s information security framework, including the policy areas you are developing and maturing, and exposing vulnerabilities and how to address them.
Be sure to work with a provider that can also suggest practical gap closure activities and action plans. If you go the advisor track vs. audit, they should be able to assist with complete implementation and developing an approach for ongoing monitoring of infrastructure security (confidentiality, integrity, and availability).
Align policy drafts with laws and organizational responsibilities
While cybersecurity is an issue that affects all organizations today, businesses that work with government agencies face increased responsibilities. For example, contractors in the Defense Industrial Base are now rushing to achieve mature IT infrastructure for DFARS NIST 800-171A and CMMC certifications.
Similarly, industry factors dictate the regulations an organization must follow. Some are subject to such data governance regulations as HIPAA, GDPR, or state regulations like Virginia’s CDPA or Maryland’s PIPA. As you lay the groundwork for your policies, it’s imperative that they help you maintain compliance with the regulations your organization is subject to.
Define and develop policies for strong and resilient cybersecurity in Washington DC starting today
It's Just Results has years of experience advising companies on security practices, policies and procedures, and assisting in full-scale implementation. And our approach covers not just your IT infrastructure, but also the organizational change that ensures strong information security.
Schedule a consultation with our team today for all your cybersecurity needs. Or, call us at (703) 570-4266 today.