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Seven questions to help evaluate the strength of your cybersecurity program

March 4, 2021 Article 2 min read
Phillip Long Joe Oleksak
Is your cybersecurity program as strong as you think it is? Find out by answering these key questions.
An staff member looking at seven questions to evaluate the strength of his cybersecurity program.

Common cybersecurity dogma says your users are your weakest link in the security chain. But, what if your weaknesses start at the executive level? A lack of cybersecurity understanding (especially as technology and threats constantly evolve) can create a nonchalant attitude toward cybersecurity. It’s never too late to re-evaluate your compliance posture and cybersecurity program. Below, we cover seven questions you should ask yourself as you build a strong, risk-focused security culture within your organization.

Seven questions to evaluate your cyber posture

  1. Are you properly identifying and managing the risks and threats that your organization may be facing today and possibly tomorrow?
    Your goal is to avoid becoming tomorrow’s headline news. Find out whether your organization is conducting, at a minimum, an annual risk assessment or a thorough analysis of the risks and threats to your organization, identifying potential security gaps and exposures. Next, make sure you have a documented risk treatment plan with appropriate planned and assigned corrective actions.
  2. Are you compliant with regulatory standards and requirements?
    How often are independent security compliance audits or assessments performed? Are these assessments detailed enough to test the design and effectiveness of your existing controls? Or, do they just scratch the surface and only address administrative policies and procedures?
  3. Are your systems and networks secure and configured properly? Are they working as designed, in accordance with management’s control objectives?
    How often are security assessments performed including penetration testing and vulnerability assessments? Do you have a formalized incident reporting and breach escalation process in place to triage a cybersecurity incident, and has that process been tested?
  4. Do only authorized personnel have access to your systems and networks? Are these privileges granted on a must-have basis?
    Does your organization perform periodic user access reviews to validate if access is restricted based on a must-have basis, or are reviews conducted to only verify who is still employed by the organization? Your user review should include an analysis on the access rights for each user, including whether roles and responsibilities have changed, thus changing their need-to-have access.
  5. Do you outsource any IT services or utilize cloud-based services?
    Do you have a process to verify if your vendors and services are secure and that your organization would be notified of issues in a timely manner? Furthermore, what do you consider as timely, and how are your vendor relationships managed? Your business partner agreements and contractual agreements should be comprehensive and address all of your cybersecurity needs and questions. Security, confidentiality, privacy, and nondisclosure contractual provisions should be in place to safeguard your sensitive and confidential nonpublic information , business interests and intellectual property.
  6. Do you have the right IT staff to support business needs and IT infrastructure?
    How old is the current IT infrastructure? Do you have the right tools and technology to support a manageable and sustainable IT environment? How do you keep up with technological changes?
  7. How often do you receive executive communication and updates on how your cybersecurity program is holding up?
    How do you know that your governance, risk management, and oversight program is working properly? What metrics do you need from your IT and compliance leadership to help you sleep better at night?

Detailed responses to these questions can provide deep insights to the state of cybersecurity within your organization, as well as your current internal and external compliance posture. For more information or questions regarding cybersecurity best practices and compliance risk management, please give us a call.

The key to stronger cybersecurity controls? Open conversation. 

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