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Cyber attacks continue to grow in volume, speed and sophistication. With the proliferation of ransomware, increasingly cunning identity-based breaches and complex geopolitics of nation-state actors, cyber adversaries are a threat to everyone, everywhere. 

But that doesn't mean catastrophe is inevitable or that we should live in fear. At WWT, we believe there is power in uniting employees, customers, partners and communities against cyber threats. 

When we work together — across all departments of an organization, in partnership with vendors and between peer organizations — we are better equipped to keep our organizations and communities safe from the looming threat of breaches. 

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We've identified five core principles to help CISOs break down silos across departments and lines of business; integrate the right mix of OEMs, vendors, partners and trusted advisors; and work peer-to-peer across the broader security community to share knowledge and harden attack surfaces. This framework is designed for security leaders across industries to make our world more secure, all together.

Principle 1: Make cybersecurity elemental to your organization's DNA

In a traditional perimeter-based security model, most employees work onsite and use a known subset of devices that connect to the corporate network. This approach has been turned on its head by digital transformation, hybrid and remote work, IoT, and the shift toward cloud computing, all introducing unprecedented risk to organizations. Yet, security is too often an afterthought bolted on at the end of projects rather than included in the development of every initiative. 

Today, protecting your data, assets and applications requires a foundational shift: Putting cybersecurity at the intersection of everything and embracing it as a core element of organizational strategy, culture and growth. 

Cybersecurity can no longer be a task relegated to the realm of IT; instead, security must be treated as a vital component of your organization's DNA, spanning virtually every facet of business. Within human resources, marketing, business lines, boards and senior leadership, every employee has a critical role to play. Security training can help staff members recognize and avoid sophisticated social engineering and phishing attempts, while incident response playbooks and tabletop exercises ensure each department knows the specific actions to take in case of a breach. 

Similarly, technology throughout your business has a security element to consider and organizations need to be aware of supply chain risks. Any third-party vendor that has access to your data — from accounting software to industrial control systems — needs to be properly vetted by the cybersecurity team to identify any potential vulnerabilities before onboarding.

Principle 2: Gain clarity on the assets and threats that matter most 

The IT and cybersecurity landscape has never been more complex. Amid the chaos and noise, many security teams have rushed to purchase and implement technology solutions to combat the latest threats. Most organizations have dozens, if not hundreds, of security tools that overlap and don't communicate with each other. At the same time, unsegmented networks, mounting technical debt, and legacy hardware and software leave organizations vulnerable to a breach. 

It's impossible to protect every asset against every threat. With finite budgets and resources, CISOs need to rationalize every expenditure. How do you know what to prioritize and get the most out of your existing tooling?  

Gain clarity on the threats and assets that matter most to your business. Comprehensive visibility of your entire IT ecosystem is an essential first step. A holistic view of the network infrastructure, including users, assets, data and devices, will help you determine the assets most important to your business. Ask yourself: What applications and services are critical to keeping the business running? This will form the roadmap to creating a clear plan on how to address and remediate the most pressing threats. 

Principle 3: Prioritize continuity and resilience to keep the business running  

Security breaches are inevitable. The principles of cyber resilience — anticipate, withstand, recover and adapt — can help organizations keep mission-critical processes up and running when a cyber attack occurs. 

But potential breaches are not the only factor shaping the cybersecurity industry, nor the only thing security teams need to plan for. A growing talent shortage and high turnover mean your organization needs to be more than resilient. CISOs need to prepare to weather any storm while minimizing disruption and protecting the organization's most important assets. 

Design your security strategy with continuity in mind and keep your business moving forward above the chaos. This requires the right mix of people, skillsets, technology and partners working in harmony against cyber threats. Consider the following questions to ensure your security strategy is built to endure:  

  • Are you prepared to block and contain an attack to limit the damage when your network is breached?
  • If you were to be hit with ransomware today, do you have playbooks in place to respond?
  • Do you have the necessary talent on your staff to manage an attack or do you need to outsource certain functions?
  • Do you have a contingency plan in place in the event of turnover in key cybersecurity positions?

Principle 4: Exercise rigor and discipline in short- and long-term security initiatives  

The threat landscape is constantly changing and evolving; what works today won't work tomorrow. There is simply no room for complacency. Your approach must be rigorous, disciplined and thorough across the entire spectrum of your cybersecurity program.

For day-to-day security hygiene, small habits will set you up for long-term success. At the minimum, organizations must meet various standards, regulations and frameworks and be prepared for potential audits or face steep fines. It's also imperative to stay rigorous on software updates and patches. 

Then you can move toward a more mature, risk-based approach that incorporates automation, secure agile development and DevSecOps approaches. Cyber range exercises are an excellent way to hone the technical skills of your cybersecurity team members in both red team (attack) and blue team (defend) scenarios. 

Principle 5: Embrace creativity and boldness to outmatch adversaries  

Cybersecurity teams must maintain constant vigilance to prevent, detect and respond to breaches. Hackers only need to get it right once, and they have an extremely compelling profit motive to keep trying. Without the barriers that slow down governments and businesses, adversaries can continually evolve their approach to circumvent the latest cybersecurity measures. 

To outmatch these adversaries, cybersecurity practitioners must shed preconceived notions of what's possible and innovate at the speed of hackers. Embrace creativity and boldness and seek out diverse perspectives in utilizing your people, processes and technology. 

For example, nearly all organizations are affected by the talent shortage in the security space. Think outside the box when it comes to recruiting. Are there existing team members in your organization who are interested in practicing cybersecurity? An employee with a law background could be an asset in preparing for and navigating how to respond to ransomware attacks. 

Get started today 

These five principles serve as your roadmap to proactively build security into your business. No matter where you are in your cybersecurity journey, our team can advise, architect and transform your security organization from idea to secure outcome. WWT's cybersecurity solutions bring together business acumen with full-stack technical know-how to develop innovative solutions that address your most complex cyber challenges.

Let's work together to secure our world.