Businesses have thousands of assets they need to protect; this includes both physical devices and data. Unfortunately, these are all susceptible to a multitude of cyberattacks, with hackers finding increasingly sophisticated ways to breach these devices.
This means security teams are forever having to fend off attacks, bolster their security and stay up to date on the latest risks. Especially in the age of GDPR when keeping data safe is of utmost importance. Poor cybersecurity hygiene is not an option and those that don’t prepare are at greater risk of falling victim to a cybercrime.
There are several ways that businesses can increase their security efforts but one of the most effective is ensuring you have a good security posture – and running regular security posture assessments is the way to do this.
Not sure what a security posture assessment is? Or even what a security posture is for that matter?
We’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’re going to look at:
- What a security posture is
- What a security posture assessment means
- Why you should run a security posture assessment
- How to run an effective assessment
What is a security posture?
Your security posture (sometimes referred to as cybersecurity posture) is the strength of your business’ security systems. This is understood by taking into account its devices such as computers, tablets and mobiles, and its online activities.
Understanding your security posture is vital for your business. This is because it determines how vulnerable you are to a cyberattack. This is where a security posture assessment comes in.
What is a security posture assessment?
In a nutshell, a security posture assessment is a way for your business to look at each individual aspect of its data, security efforts, and action plans to determine any areas of weakness or vulnerability.
This is also an opportunity to look at every aspect that influences cybersecurity such as third parties, practises, processes, and human behavior. This gives a more inclusive overview of the current security posture and what needs to be done to ramp up your security efforts.
Why you should run a security posture assessment
Based on what we’ve said already, you may already have worked out why a security posture assessment is worth doing. But just in case you’re still unsure, there are several great reasons to run one of these assessments. These are:
- You can never be too cautious and running an assessment can be the difference between protecting the business or falling victim to a breach
- These assessments provide data-driven insights so you can focus your attention on the areas that need more work
- These can help you to bolster your security and avoid any security issues in the future
- This can be a really helpful way for you to ensure your security is up to scratch and to stay compliant with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
How to run an effective security posture assessment
Understanding your security posture is important for businesses hoping to defend themselves against cybercriminals. You need to be constantly monitoring and updating your security posture in order to defend the business against an attack. Being able to identify the biggest risks and vulnerabilities is the key, which as we’ve said above is why it’s important to run regular security posture assessments.
But how do you run an effective security posture assessment in the first place?
We’re going to break this down step by step below.
- Understand the value of the data you collect
By having a better understanding of the value of your data and how important it is to protect this, it can be easier to highlight areas of your security that are most important or need the most work.
- Identifying your business needs and objectives
On a similar note, by identifying the needs and objectives of your business you can also focus on the areas of security that are going to be most important to your success.
For example, if you prioritize remote work, ensuring that all devices and data are secure is going to be a key priority. You’ll want to get security policies in place that are geared more towards mobile devices and remote network access.
- Implement a risk management program
Once you have an idea of the aspects that are most important to the business you can begin getting a risk management program or spreadsheet in place.
Here, you can list all the business assets (devices and data) and assess each area individually. Then, once these have been assessed you can organize these from most to the least vulnerable in your risk management document.
You can give these a security posture rating (perhaps from one to five) if this helps.
- Evaluate the systems you already have in place
Once you know which areas are most vulnerable and which you want to work on first, you can assess the current security systems you have in place. Then you can work out how these can be strengthened.
This is your chance to evaluate your systems and decide whether these are correct, reliable and efficient.
- Make note of areas that need to be improved
Now is the time to make note of all the areas that need to be improved. Make sure these notes are as detailed as possible, outlining the potential risks and how these can be fixed.
- Create and present a plan of action
The last step on your security posture assessment is to turn your detailed notes into a plan of action that you can present to the security and IT teams. This is often referred to as a roadmap and is essentially a cybersecurity framework that can be laid out, focusing on the most vulnerable areas first.
Is it time to strengthen your security posture?
Though this is usually the job of your IT professionals, strengthening your security posture goes far beyond just the IT team. You need to make sure that you’re educating all employees and running assessments on any third-party vendors or services you may use.
And running a security posture assessment is just the first step. Once you’ve identified areas that need improving it’s important to act quickly to get stronger systems in place.