Cybersecurity Must Check These 5 Boxes to Be Effective


February 25, 2021

There’s a simple way to assess cybersecurity effectiveness with five questions.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, an intermediate, or an advanced IT evaluator. Even experts overlook the primary building blocks of an effective cybersecurity program.

Don’t worry about ripping and replacing all of your IT systems. Cybersecurity is, first and foremost, a mindset.

Review the following five questions to determine where you stand. Then prioritize and take incremental steps to protect your digital assets.


#1 – Is company leadership driving the cybersecurity conversation?

Your C-Suite should evangelize cybersecurity to everyone else in your organization.

Why is this important? As the primary asset owners in the business, your executive team has a vested interest in protecting data because it represents digital cash:

  • Intellectual property
  • Custom software
  • Client lists
  • Business plans

When you think of information as actual currency, security becomes less about mundane technology and more about a strategic business priority.

The three fundamental pillars of security are confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Promoting these pillars is a high calling. Avoid delegating the initiative to a techie who lives in a cramped IT closet and only emerges to rest passwords and manhandle the copier machine.

Unlike the asset owners in your enterprise, the typical IT guy is a data custodian whose focus is refreshing hardware, software, and gadgets.

Don’t entrust your future to an IT staffer you assume has everything covered. That’s seldom the case.

It’s crucial to build consensus across your management hierarchy. Bring a wider audience of stakeholders into the discussion and promote the program from the top down.


#2 – Have we addressed all single points of failure in our cybersecurity?

Establishing a Technology Planning Committee helps you shift reliance from a technology expert to a broader coalition of influencers and collaborators.

In the process, you’ll ignite business continuity and reinforce all functional areas of your business.

Members of the Technology Planning Committee don’t have to be technical. They only need a high-level understanding to analyze the business rationale for any proposed changes to your IT systems.

The goal is to create a system to prevent anything with business impact and risk from slipping through the cracks.

The Technology Planning Committee should meet monthly, quarterly, or more frequently if you’re growing.


#3 – Can we assign a value to our cybersecurity risk?

Your risk is probably high if you don’t have the documentation to answer this question.

The following exhibits are essential for every modern enterprise:

  • An Acceptable Use Policy
  • A Network Diagram
  • An IT Roadmap
  • Technology Vendor Contracts and Contacts
  • Hardware/Software Warranties and Renewals
  • Service Invoices
  • Project Invoices

You may not follow any industry-specific cybersecurity frameworks. However, solid documentation provides evidence of due care if there’s a breach or a legal inquiry. This approach will also lower your liability.

If you’re required to follow an established framework, many consulting firms, CPAs, and managed services providers can help you comply.

Companies that favor a proactive approach should consider The National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF).

The NIST CSF Framework is comprehensive, widely accepted, and improves operating efficiency.

A NIST engagement will help you assess your current state, create a baseline, and establish a formal commitment to continuous improvement.


#4 – Is our IT designed to be user-friendly?

When you make it easy to access applications, you create a culture of cheerful conformity.

Give users three steps to follow instead of five. Navigating your infrastructure and network backend is too complicated for non-technical staff.

These complications lead to problems. How so? Employees who can’t reach a centralized corporate file share are more likely to use personal applications to finish the job: Yahoo, Gmail, Dropbox, and Box.

Imagine your VP of Sales needs to leave a little early to pick up her kids and plans to finish up a few work details on the home computer.

She knows the VPN never works and decides to store her work in a personal DropBox account.

She might even email the twenty-page proposal to her Yahoo account and download it to the C drive of her seven-year-old computer (with a home/office version of Windows XP).

I just described a practice known as Shadow IT, a term for using unapproved IT applications. I also mentioned Windows XP, an ancient operating system with profound security flaws.

Shadow IT opens the door for phishing, malware, and ransomware attacks. Websites are also dangerous. Millions of websites contain malicious software that cybercrooks use to infiltrate corporate networks.

Give your team what they need (including ongoing cybersecurity awareness training and testing), and they are less likely to stray, especially if they know the risks.


#5 – Have we examined new technologies with cybersecurity and operating innovation?

Strengthen cybersecurity and improve operating innovation with Identity & Access Management.

Identity & Access Management (‘the new firewall”) puts a secure digital fence around your applications, onsite and cloud infrastructure, and networks, including Microsoft 365.

Why do you need it? Traditional firewalls can’t prevent people from making mistakes like sharing passwords and clicking on rogue email links. So you assume it’s unsafe to trust anyone. This radical way of thinking is known as Zero Trust Access. 

According to CrowdStrike, “Zero Trust is a security concept that requires all users, even those inside the organization’s enterprise network, to be authenticated, authorized, and continuously validating security configuration and posture, before being granted or keeping access to applications and data.”

How does it work? You require everyone to use a password manager, Single-Sign-On (SSO), and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to log into the network. This routine takes about two minutes and makes it easy to reach everything in one place.

And thanks to Microsoft Azure Active Directory, organizations can conveniently adopt Zero Trust and other services, including:

  • Conditional Access
  • Dynamic Permissions
  • Storage
  • Backup
  • Archiving
  • Easy Integration

Even better, Microsoft 365 has specific services that map to NIST CSF pillars.

It’s like best-in-class technology met the perfect compliance blueprint on eHarmony.

Learn More: NIST CSF and M365


Strengthening your Cybersecurity

I hope you have a slightly different perspective on cybersecurity.

Hopefully, you’ll formulate some new questions to fix weak spots in your IT environment:

  • Is this initiative prioritized by risk and business impact?
  • Does this concern need immediate attention?
  • Can we address the issue within 6-12 months?
  • Can the project wait 12-18 months?

If you have any additional questions, the Integris team has decades of experience, and we look forward to guiding you. Book a Strategy Session Today


Jed is a Solution Advisor at Integris who has specialized in MSP solution development, sales, and marketing communications since 2003.

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