Enterprise Architecture and Technology Optimization

Level 3 of cybersecurity: governance

The accelerating rate of digital transformation plays a major role in cybersecurity. Cyberattacks are multiplying and becoming more sophisticated as our daily activities become increasingly dependent on technology. In our last article, “How mature is your cybersecurity?: Understanding the 3 levels,” we try to demystify the topic and underline the importance of working with partners in our current context. In the article, we discussed how today’s businesses are inundated with cybersecurity tools, and as a result, a lot of alerts. How can companies take action and manage the growing number of cyberattacks? Today we’ll be discussing the third level of cyber protection: governance. Among its many advantages, governance allows you to develop and maintain how proactive you are and establish an appropriate cybersecurity risk level.  

Level 3: Governance: To get and stay proactive  

What is IT governance?  

Governance is a process that oversees the other levels of cybersecurity (basic and advanced security) and needs to be strategically aligned with the company’s business objectives. However, a study has shown that, “77% of spending is focused on defensive information security and compliance rather than proactive measures and opportunities to support transformative growth.” Companies would fare better if they invested more in solutions that include more than just the technical aspects.  

Governance refers to the idea of integrating cybersecurity into every initiative and change. It is largely an executive responsibility and is a part of corporate governance that involves developing a management approach for risk and policies, which needs to be clearly communicated. Stakeholders should be assigned roles and responsibilities and companies should designate an authority for audits and internal reviews. Without customized governance and risk management, security solutions only provide a false sense of security.  

How do I know if my company has strong enough cybersecurity?  

There are different assessment tools that can demystify cybersecurity and support you in your transformation projects. The different framework types let companies evaluate their current cybersecurity situation to identify areas for improvement. This is an important analysis and helps organizations reposition themselves to better respond to various threats.  

Is the cybersecurity assessment enough for my company to be well protected? In reality, simply having cybersecurity tools is insufficient. You not only need to build your cybersecurity environment, but you need to ensure your tools, policies and processes are used wisely. Managing an organization’s security in this way is what is meant by governance, a role usually under the responsibility of a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). This role is generally performed by your IT officers and can be complex to manage without proper expertise. The CISO’s tasks include anticipating, assessing and managing new and emerging threats. The CISO must absolutely work together with the other departments to ensure their IT security objectives are aligned with all others within the organization (e.g. acquisition processes, with partners, in your risk management).  

Managing your own cybersecurity vs. outsourcing  

It’s important to note that when facing such a complex and constantly changing issue, an annual assessment is not enough; you need to conduct regular assessments. However, a full-time employee (like a CISO) may be costly and difficult to find in the current labour shortage. This is why the demand for hiring a CISO-as-a-service (CISOaaS) has significantly grown. CISOaaS involves delegating the IT security responsibilities to a third-party service provider. This option allows small- and medium-sized businesses to use cybersecurity services as needed without having to hire a full-time employee.  

What is the reality of IT governance?  

The reality is that companies have a number of options to consider for their IT governance. As mentioned previously, you can have a full- or part-time CISO or use external services. The important thing is to have ongoing access to the right resource who has the necessary expertise and an understanding of your organization, your challenges, your limitations, etc. And why is ongoing access to this resource so important?  

1.Because security, from the moment of implementation, is an ongoing process as well In addition to having someone who can assess and mitigate risks on a regular basis, this expertise helps ensure that security is a part of your every day and integrated into each of your activities from the start.  

2.Customized policies Working with the right resource helps you manage incidents at the right responsibility level. In other words, it makes it possible to have an incident management policy that is not restricted to major incidents and promotes the ability of the appropriate resources to take responsibility.  

3.Your partners’ trust Having a resource, whether internal or external, who closely oversees your cybersecurity and ensures a fair distribution of efforts reinforces the feeling of security for your business partners (clients, service providers, etc.). It provides added value to your partners.  

4.Manage contracts and protect partners Having a CISO also creates trust when assessing partners’ cybersecurity and establishing contractual stipulations. For example, while your partners have access to your data and applications through services in secure environments (e.g. cloud, SaaS), they are not always safe from their own cyberattacks. You therefore need to establish rules, which in this case would require that partners inform you in the case of an attack.  

5.Responsibility management Having an ongoing resource also lets you determine roles and responsibilities in the event of a cyberattack.  

Despite all the efforts already in place, your company will need to constantly adapt since cyberattacks happen to every organization. This is why it is essential to establish appropriate governance to take a proactive approach to cyberattacks. This also helps provide a clear view of what’s happening in the world and the measures to implement depending on your obligations, industry and capacities.  

Now that you better understand the different levels of cybersecurity, there is another issue to consider: how far can you take your cybersecurity without undermining user-friendliness? The more sophisticated the security systems, the more steps and processes are involved. It’s important to agree as an organization on what is most important and strike a balance between introducing cybersecurity measures and minimizing impacts on the operations of the company and of stakeholders. When considering these issues, it is increasingly important to opt for a technical and strategic level of support and a partner who can guide you and assist with the transition and changes you may face on your journey to improve your cybersecurity.  

Discover how Talsom’s expertise can protect your organization through its digital transformation from start to finish.  

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Published on 05.07.2022