What to Include In an Enterprise Cybersecurity Plan?

Karolina Kobiela

Jul 14, 2021 • 11 min read
cybersecurity plan

Creating effective enterprise cybersecurity plans is more important than ever.

Online security threats keep on proliferating and become more complex each day, posing even greater challenges to IT security and risk management leaders.

Securing data and architecture isn’t important only for the enterprise, but also for its customers and business partners. Even a small security breach may cause severe damages in all of these areas: from hefty fines to loss of reputation as well as customers and partners. Insecure architecture is thus too big a risk to take, especially for enterprises that store vast amounts of data.

What’s the answer? Strong cybersecurity policies - they remain the best weapon in the fight against evolving threats. Read on to find out what to include in a solid enterprise cybersecurity plan.

Enterprise cybersecurity - why does it matter?

No matter what industry you’re in, the bigger your enterprise the more attractive a target it is to cybercriminals. They understand the value of data and implement increasingly sophisticated measures to obtain it. Leaders must be able to anticipate threats and implement all measures necessary to prevent damages and counter the attacks quickly, should they occur.

Cyber attacks not only proliferate but are becoming more and more sophisticated. The COVID-19 pandemic also contributed to the proliferation of threats and increased criminal activity: large proportions of private and professional lives moved online, expanding the attack surface. Every technology provider is vulnerable and at risk practically every day.

While it is a big advantage of the digital era that hacking tools and learning materials can be found on the internet with little effort by anyone who wants to learn and grow, those resources can be also used by individuals with malicious intent.

Everyone can learn how to hack, but we must be aware that some people might use it for unethical purposes. Anyone with basic IT or computer skills can learn how to carry out a cyberattack, so businesses must be vigilant at all times and continuously strengthen their security strategies.

Cybersecurity Ventures predicts the 2021 cybercrime damages to amount to $6 trillion, expanding to $10,5 by 2025! In addition, the average cost of a breach in 2020 was $3,86m, so the stakes are high.

It’s not unwise to assume that attempts to compromise your organization’s integrity will happen sooner or later. What are the biggest risks to enterprise cybersecurity you should be prepared for?

Enterprise cybersecurity challenges

We could write an entire book about enterprise cybersecurity threats, but that’s not the main purpose of this article, so we will briefly summarize the main reasons to give you some food for thought. Consider the following risks:

1. Personnel

Human beings are the weakest link in cybersecurity strategies. There are several issues worth remembering when it comes to your employees:

  • They have access to company infrastructure and are prone to human error.
  • They may be unaware of some of the security best practices, which may lead to unintentional insider threats.
  • They have legitimate access to your company’s infrastructure and can spot weaknesses in the internal processes, business operations, and system or application vulnerabilities. That places them in a position where they can easily compromise your business process, should they be in any way dissatisfied with the job (emotionally or financially).
  • They have high privileges within your systems and are prone to social engineering attacks.

2. Ransomware

Ransomware attacks are executed through an ever-evolving malware that encrypts files crucial for system operability, rendering them unreadable. The consequences of such attacks may be grave, as criminals keep the data encrypted until a ransom is paid.

3. Advanced Persistent Threat (APT)

Usually oriented at data theft, APTs occur when attackers enter a system or network and remain there for an extended period of time, undetected. Such attacks are critical for enterprises, as they give cybercriminals ongoing access to sensitive company data.

4. Internet of Things

Security isn’t usually the top priority in the design of IoT devices, thus a growing number of such solutions used by companies is a challenge to enterprise security.

Vulnerable areas of IoT are relatively easy for cybercriminals to exploit but difficult and expensive to fix from the business perspective. If a malicious person takes control over an IoT device, they are just as likely to compromise the entire infrastructure.

5. Business process compromise

Vulnerabilities exist outside technology. Malicious persons can also find weaknesses in a company's internal processes or business operations by observing the way systems work or how employees behave. They may also gain such information through vulnerabilities exploited in systems and applications.

6. Security vs. performance

Striking the right balance between cybersecurity measures and performance can be a challenge as well. The entire security system must be effective at protecting the company’s infrastructure, but it must also be clear and straightforward for personnel. Overcomplicating the security policy can cause the employees to bypass it. Simplicity works, complexity backfires.

Traditional cybersecurity vs. cloud cybersecurity

While some companies still keep their data on premises, many have already shifted their assets to the cloud. It’s a smart move that allows them to benefit from the scalability and cost-saving opportunities, but also increases the attack surface, baiting cybercriminals.

Nonetheless, cloud cybersecurity policies are easier and more cost-effective to implement and manage. Most cloud engineers are more and more up-to-date with advanced security and data governance methods.

Also, big cloud providers (eg. Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure) offer their own security solutions and ensure physical security(secured and highly available data centers) for every customer, while on-premises environments require to be secured from the scratch - from secured data centers to choosing and implementing the right security solutions.

As organizations shift more and more data to virtual environments, they should remember to make cloud security their priority and carefully choose their cloud vendor or outsource an external security provider who knows a given cloud provider inside out.

Which industries are at risk?

Practically every industry is at risk, but some industries are more attractive to cybercriminals than others due to the nature and volumes of data they store on their servers. The following industries are most vulnerable:

  • Healthcare
  • Public sector
  • Banking and Fintech
  • Telecom
  • IT providers and leading corporate businesses

Some examples of security breaches in well-known enterprises

If you think that the biggest players know best how to secure their infrastructures, you’re wrong. Facebook/Instagram/Linkedin faced a massive leakage of personal data of over 200m users in January 2021 and over 500m in April this year.

Also in January 2021, one of the biggest IoT vendors, Ubiquiti Inc., alerted its customers about a security breach of a magnitude that was deemed ‘catastrophic’ by some of the industry professionals.

Over 30k email accounts were compromised, including business and local government accounts, in a recent Microsoft Exchange Server breach. Finally, a SolarWinds attack devastated the U.S. Government and many corporations.

There are countless other examples of breaches, more can be found in The 9 Worst Recent Data Breaches of 2020 and 2021 Data Breaches.

How to create an enterprise cybersecurity strategy?

Building a secure ecosystem is a complex process that requires a systematic approach. While there is no uniform recipe for creating effective cybersecurity plans, there are several approaches enterprises should keep in mind to improve the cyberhealth of their ecosystem:

a) Increase awareness of enterprise cybersecurity

Invest in staff security training and ensure knowledge sharing for all employees. Creating a cybersecurity culture is crucial: personnel may be the weakest link in your security policy, but with appropriate top-to-bottom education, they may as well become your strongest asset.

b) Know your IT and data ecosystem inside out

Complex infrastructures are harder to protect, and complicated security policies are hard to manage. To ensure the highest level of protection, you must know what to protect. Thus, inspect every system component for its strength and vulnerability, prepare a remediation plan in case of breaches occur, and assign roles and responsibilities for this process.

c) Customize your cybersecurity strategy to your organization

There are no identical ecosystems, so tailor the cybersecurity strategy to your enterprise. Define boundaries for every information asset. Identify, monitor, and manage third-party risks. If you can’t do it on your own, consult a reliable vendor.

d) Be proactive

Instead of being reactive, concentrate on preventive measures and proactively evaluate the risks. Craft your enterprise security strategy in a way that allows your team to spot vulnerabilities and system weaknesses before cybercriminals manage to exploit them. Invest in smarter technologies, encrypt your data, secure email gateways, and harden your network assets before damages occur.

e) Think about security from the very beginning

Define your software environment right at the start and involve security engineers as early as possible. It will allow them to spot potential weaknesses in the application or system during the design phase, while it's easy and cost-effective to fix errors and strengthen the cybersecurity posture.

f) Ensure continuity of cybersecurity measures

Securing enterprise infrastructures is an ongoing and infinite process that has to be continuously analyzed, tested, and improved in response to the evolving threat environment.

Ensure continuous vigilance through Security Monitoring, periodically evaluate and update your cybersecurity and disaster recovery strategies and policies. Also, pay special attention to identity and access management across the enterprise.

Creating a solid enterprise cybersecurity plan

Understanding cybercrime trends and knowing your organization’s needs and requirements are crucial to ensuring a customized, maximum protection against cybercrime.

While threats may come from the inside just as well from the outside, investing in security awareness and satisfaction of your employees may become your greatest asset in this uneven fight - in the end, security policies are created, implemented and executed by people, so their success depends on them.

By being proactive and ensuring the widest possible coverage on an ongoing basis, you will be on the right track. Remember to remain vigilant at all times.

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Karolina Kobiela

Karolina Kobiela works as Security Engineer at Netguru.
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