As any cybersecurity expert will tell you, total threat elimination is an impossible goal. No matter which defense strategies businesses come up with or sophisticated tactics they implement, attack approaches evolve, malicious actors adapt and risks persist. Adding to the complexity of the problem is the fact that business value and data continue to migrate online. Protecting business processes and information has become a critical concern across the globe.
What can businesses do to mitigate this? Create a cybersecurity strategy that includes a workforce readiness assessment for your team in accordance with the business requirements. Based on the results of the assessment, assign appropriate training to address skill gaps. The central goal of this strategy is to ensure that your team:
• Achieves your business goals.
• Prevents cyber breaches.
• Cultivates a cybersecurity culture.
Increasing cybersecurity awareness among staff and cultivating talent are such important objectives that the U.S. Department of Defense has designated them as two of their five lines of effort dedicated to combating cybersecurity threats. As the CEO of a company that specializes in IT skills training, I’ve outlined how you can get started:
1. Define your cybersecurity goals.
I was amazed to learn that half of the information security leaders I’ve talked to don’t have any goals to upgrade their network barriers. For those who do, they lack goals that are measured annually. Ideally, business unit leaders of such critical departments should measure cybersecurity goals on a quarterly basis at the very least. You can do so by:
• Researching and surveying the market for the latest security threats.
• Defining security goals according to the ever-growing threat (on-target goal-setting is easier if it’s driven by project requirements).
• Evaluating the project requirements and identifying what needs to be done.
• Making sure the goals have measurable metrics.
2. Assess employees’ bandwidth.
Now that you have a starting point and destination, your next phase involves evaluating the bandwidth of your employees. This is an important step that will help identify:
• Project staffing needs.
Defining these factors will require a realistic cybersecurity approach to avoid delays. Avoid these common pitfalls during project implementation by encouraging open lines of communication and ensuring that all stakeholders are on board with the plan. After this is done, you will have two sets of valuable information: your employees’ current skill levels and your staff utilization.
3. Conduct a cybersecurity workforce readiness assessment.
As with any improvement effort, the first step is to get a sense of your current situation. Perform a cyber-workforce readiness assessment against the business goals. Measure and benchmark your staff’s skill level to identify gaps against the business goals. Large IT firms have created specialized cybersecurity assessment tools to assist organizations. Research-based assessments are also available.
Once you assess your staff’s skills against business goals, you can put together a training plan per employee to meet the overall objective. There are tools that can automate the process for you.
4. Implement the adaptive training plan.
A trained staff is a critical business asset when it comes to handling information security projects. Whether your company is involved in a simple privileged access management (PAM) project or implementing a complex continuous adaptive risk and trust assessment (CARTA-based) strategy design, success depends on employee competency.
Now that you have a training plan, implement it by assigning specific information security training certifications or training modules to each employee and measure the effectiveness and quality of execution against your business goals.
Another crucial concern is the communication and importance of information security training programs. Leveraging this opportunity to emphasize how this training plan will help your employees with their career mobility, promotions
and the ability to meet their goals is usually very effective to get them to take the training.
5. Establish a culture of cybersecurity.
The ultimate goal is to foster a cybersecurity culture across the organization. This is a tough task because it involves the human aspects of cybersecurity. Be prepared for resistance, and plan efforts to address employee concerns in an understanding and open manner. Empathy will get you to your goals faster than issuing strict directives and hoping employees will follow.
Make cybersecurity practices a routine part of your business processes as well as strategic concerns. This 360-degree approach will become your best defense against information security risks. Even if it seems excessive, remember that the cost of a successful attack results in loss of revenue and reputation.
The best way to build a culture of cybersecurity is to educate your employees, communicate with them and help them understand that this could help lead to promotions, salary increases and achieving business goals.
6. Win big with a cyber-smart staff.
Technology continues to evolve at a swift pace, and I believe the deployment of 5G networks will serve as a significant change factor. These circumstances will force businesses to focus on cybersecurity as a core concern. The connected future holds a promise of higher returns and value for firms that recognize the need for IT security. Securing all applications, devices and underlying networks is the key to unlocking immense value and revenue. Once you have put all these practices into place, your business will be ready to win big whether it comes to generating value through IT security projects or retaining staff.
Unfortunately, there is no bulletproof method to manage information security risks. The closest thing we have to a silver bullet is to create and maintain a cyber-smart culture within your organization through ongoing cybersecurity training. Stakeholders across the board need to realize the critical role information security plays in IT risk management. Ensuring proper training of staff will not only protect your business interests, but also let your firm handle complex information security projects with ease.