It’s no secret that today’s digital climate has forced businesses into making cybersecurity awareness and planning a primary focus. Today, on average, less than 50 percent of small to medium-sized businesses can successfully survive a cyber attack. For many businesses, these odds are not something they're willing to gamble with. Yet, while the need to create a cybersecurity plan and take proactive business security measures may be clear to many, for executive leadership, it can be difficult to know where to begin.

In most organizations, there is a variety of moving pieces that need due diligence when establishing security processes and best practices. This can be overwhelming at first, especially when considering the sheer scale of this initiative. But by developing a cybersecurity plan ahead of time, you can focus on all the steps necessary to protect your business while maintaining a healthy control of your budgets.

Using the NIST Framework to Create a Cybersecurity Plan

While there are different ways to approach cybersecurity planning, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, has developed easy-to-follow guidelines to help companies manage this process efficiently. Below, we’ll guide you through each step of the cybersecurity planning process. We'll also identify important steps your business can take to improve its risk mitigation efforts.

Step 1: Identify Your Business Assets and Capabilities

The first process in establishing an effective cybersecurity plan is to create a detailed roadmap identifying all the major assets, capabilities, and security goals of your organization. 

Why it’s important

Before you can adopt better security practices, it’s important to get a clear understanding of your current infrastructure and the unique factors that make up your business. Not all systems need the same level of protection, and threat mitigation strategies can differ considerably from one company to the next. Laying the groundwork ahead of time to identify and classify your risk mitigation priorities will help to fill in important gaps in your business security protocols.

How it’s achieved

The best way to approach this first step of cybersecurity planning is to take stock of all your business networks, company assets, data management systems, and the staff members that maintain them all. Create an effective risk management strategy around these elements by identifying both internal and external business risks they could contribute to. As you uncover these potential risks, establish priorities around mitigation to fill the security gaps.

Step 2: Establish Protective Policies and Procedures

Once you’ve identified all the moving pieces of your business, the next step in the process is to establish a list of actions that can be taken to safely address security threats as they arise.

Why it’s important

Establishing protective policies for your business not only helps you organize your security procedures, but it also helps to encourage cybersecurity awareness across the entire organization. The integrity of your systems and regulatory compliance standards also require you to document and validate your process when preventing and containing the impact of a data breach. 

How it’s achieved

There are a variety of ways companies can introduce safeguards for their systems. Deploying protective technology in the form of access control systems, multifactor authentication protocols, and data encryption are some main ways companies approach this strategy. At this stage, it’s also important to establish best business practices for employees on how they access company data and what they can do to keep themselves and the company protected from malicious sources.

Step 3: Implement Event Monitoring and Detection Processes

With company policies and best practices defined and initiated, your next step should be to put in place the right tools and services to monitor potentially dangerous anomalies in your systems.

Why it’s important

Being able to identify cybersecurity events as they surface is a critical part of business survivability. It can take businesses over six months to recognize and mitigate data breaches as they occur, but by then, irreparable damage may have taken place. By investing in continuous monitoring solutions and developing threat recognition protocols, you can significantly lower your business risks and improve the integrity of your systems.

How it’s achieved

Creating a solution to collect and analyze all your network and system data in real-time is the best way to approach your threat detection initiatives. However, many companies quickly realize that the manpower and equipment costs to manage this effort effectively can be difficult to budget. In these cases, companies find it beneficial to work with an MSSP (Managed Security Service Provider), as it gives them the ability to use these advanced technologies without significant upfront investments. 

Step 4: Build Adequate Threat Response Activities

Once you’ve identified potentially dangerous cybersecurity incidents, outlining how you’ll respond to them efficiently will lower the chances of experiencing any long-term impact.

Why it’s important

Data breaches, malware, and DDoS attacks can lead to disastrous consequences if they aren’t met with active, time-sensitive countermeasures. Analyzing events as they occur and ensure adequate response times is a key element to a successful cybersecurity plan.

How it’s achieved

Response planning requires a combination of internal communication, data analysis, and risk mitigation efforts. Connecting the dots in these areas depends on a high level of coordination and organizational support. Working with a third-party security solutions provider can help you reduce the interdepartmental strain typically experienced during this effort. By auditing your current risk profile and creating actionable response plans for your systems, you’ll be able to start threat response protocols while actively improving their effectiveness over time.

Step 5: Define Data Recovery Options and Initiatives

The final stage of cybersecurity planning is to establish the activities necessary to recover from security breaches and data outages successfully.

Why it’s important

In recovery planning, timing is everything. Whether dealing with ransomware, large-scale system outages, or incidental data corruption, being able to recover quickly from operational disruptions is essential. To manage this effectively, businesses need to have documented recovery procedures they can follow that have are regularly tested and maintained over time.

How it’s achieved

Every company should have a documented disaster recovery plan to follow when normal operations of the business are disrupted. These plans are designed to help teams quickly identify the source of system breaches and list step-by-step instructions on how to recover from them. Proactive measures should be taken to ensure these documents remain up-to-date and relevant as an organization scales.

Putting Your Cybersecurity Plan into Action

While drafting a comprehensive cybersecurity plan is a critical starting point to improving your business security, putting your plan into action is the most vital part. But it’s important to note that the execution of your new security initiatives requires a disciplined mindset by both company leaders and IT support teams alike.

It’s inevitable, that when implementing your cybersecurity plan, roadblocks will appear. In most cases, these roadblocks come in the form of bandwidth and budgetary restraints. However, plan adaptation is a natural part of building effective cybersecurity practices. There are many solutions available to help you meet your security goals without investing in expensive hardware or additional hires.

Looking for help with your company's cybersecurity plan?

Complete the form below and we'll be in touch.

About ArmorPoint Managed SIEM Service

ArmorPoint is a security information and event management solution that provides a cost-effective and reliable way to continually protect your business from emerging threats. Through its customizable service pricing model, ArmorPoint's cost-effective packages and dynamic levels of expert management support the security strategies of all companies, regardless of available budget, talent, or time. And since ArmorPoint offers 24/7 security support with a team of dedicated specialists, they can provide you with the manpower you need to expertly manage all of your cybersecurity initiatives. See how ArmorPoint can make a difference in your security posture with a risk-free 30 day free trial.