How to Write a Network Security Plan

by

October 20, 2022

A proactive network security plan can be the difference between your uptime and downtime.

With downtime costs averaging $5,600 per minute, it’s clear that every minute counts. As an organization with unique and evolving needs, it can be challenging to understand the purpose, benefits, and reasonings behind creating and deploying a network security plan.

To provide clarity on this matter, our blog today will cover not only everything you need to know about a network security plan but also how to write a network security plan

So with these thoughts in mind, let’s get started.

What is a Network Security Plan?

A network security plan details the security strategy and various approaches used to protect a network from unauthorized access, vulnerabilities, and cybersecurity threats

In many cases, these strategies revolve around creating security features that define how an entity will meet its security requirements. For best practices, leadership should consider developing a network security plan as they play an essential role in information security.

To reduce your security risk and better manage your network governance, it’s best to think of a network security plan as a living document that requires ongoing tune-ups to keep it relevant with the latest regulatory requirements, such as those required by:

  • SOX
  • CCPA
  • GDPR
  • HIPAA
  • FISMA

 

Did You Know?

Some compliance fines can cost your business as much as $50,000 while HIPAA compliance fines reached more than $5.98 million in monetary penalties in 2021. 

Next, it’s important to consider the upkeep required to maintain a high-level security plan as it not only ensures an optimal network connection but also the real-time protection of your infrastructure against a security breach.

For instance, SMBs may have one highly trained individual that is responsible for maintaining an entire network infrastructure whereas medium to large businesses may outsource or use a managed service CISO or vCIO services to maintain an up-to-date security architecture.

Why a Network Security Plan is Important

Businesses gather, manage, and store sensitive data. The more data they have, the more likely they are to be targeted by cybercriminals.

For example, healthcare providers are among the most targeted entities because of the value and wealth of client information they possess. In fact, the evidence speaks for itself when you consider how healthcare has had the highest industry breach costs for 11 consecutive years.

Given the rising impacts and costs associated with cyber threats, and how cyberattackers are growing more creative with their approaches (like targeting the weakest link of a security architecture via social engineering attacks), a network security plan is more important than ever because it will help protect your:

  • Uptime
  • Efficiency
  • Reputation
  • Productivity
  • Ability to manage service deliverables

How to Write a Network Security Plan in 8 Steps

Complete network infrastructure coverage is no small feat.

From identifying which hardware, firewalls, endpoint protection, monitoring solutions, and intrusion detection and prevention systems best suit your current and future needs to managing the deployments of those features, a high degree of expertise is needed to get it right.

Combined with other factors such as your budget, structure, and relevant data compliance standards to your industry, it can be overwhelming when trying to find an actual starting point.

To help guide the way, we’ve taken the guesswork out of it for you.

Step 1: Breakdown Your Business Model

Leadership will need to spearhead the development phase of your network security plan as they will be able to identify what needs securing, what your most vital data is and where it resides, and the processes your organization deploys to generate revenue.

Step 2. Perform a Risk Assessment

Now that you understand the demands of your business and the various nuances attached, it’s recommended to identify which assets, resources, and systems are active on your network.

To manage this, organizations often have a third-party technology provider perform a comprehensive risk assessment. Depending on the scope of your network, these risk assessments can take as long as a few weeks to complete and enable you to:

  • Audit critical system encryption settings
  • Identify and categorize network security risks and gaps
  • Discover exploitable infrastructure vulnerabilities, such as:
    • Outdated OS
    • Weak passwords
    • Unauthorized access privileges
  • Test your network defense viability for attack detection and response
  • Show evidence that supports increased IT investments or enhanced network security
  • Identify network security vulnerabilities across files, database servers, and applications

Following a risk assessment, network specialists will provide a detailed report that specifies vulnerabilities along with providing remediation recommendations for fast resolutions.

Step 3. Develop IT Security Policies & Procedures

Organizations often leverage IT consulting insights to verify the vulnerabilities found in a cyber security assessment are remediated and that steps are taken to prevent recurrences.

While most businesses have a General Information Security Policy, many organizations (such as those who support remote work) often sometimes use additional security policies covering:

  • VPNs
  • Passwords
  • Social media
  • Internet usage
  • Mobile devices

 

Need Help Creating Policies That Align With Your Network Security Plan?

Close protection gaps and prevent future disruptions with our networking expertise today.

Request a Risk Assessment

 

Step 4. Embrace a Security-First Mindset

One of the most susceptible vulnerabilities are human-based vulnerabilities, which is likely why cybercriminals have ramped up their efforts in attack vectors that exploit human vulnerabilities, such as:

  • Phishing
  • Social engineering
  • Malicious insider threats
  • Compromised physical devices
  • Business email compromise (BEC)

Two common ways organizations ensure a security-first approach is through routine cyber security awareness training or by using a managed service provider to cover their defenses.

Step 5. Define Your Incident Response

Organizations need to have answers, processes, and solutions in place for when the unexpected happens.

From what to do when your network has been compromised to the steps you need to follow in the event of a ransomware attack, natural disaster, or data breach, your incident response plays a critical role in your network security plan.

Ironically, no matter how mature or well-conceived an organization’s strategy may be, there are always risks involved, even small ones that make prevention challenging, like accidentally downloading a malicious email file, which can have enormous impacts on your operations.

Given that there are so many variables to consider, working with an MSP may expedite the process for you while ensuring you’re prepared at a professional level.

Step 6. Launch New Security Controls

Security control frameworks should be established to ensure security initiatives are carried out following the best practices. Common control frameworks leveraged include:

  • CIS
  • NIST
  • CMCC
  • PCI DSS
  • ISO/IEC 27001

Step 7. Hire an MSP or MSSP

Augmenting your security team through an MSP is an effective way to elevate network security.

managed security service benefits

In addition to gaining the following benefits above, organizations that use MSPs also gain expertise from working alongside specialists familiar with:

  • Business continuity
  • Endpoint protection
  • Data loss prevention
  • IT strategy and planning
  • Emerging technologies
  • Vulnerability management
  • Network security and infrastructure management

Step 8. Ensure Long-Term Security

When adopting a new network security strategy for your business, you’re bound to face a few challenges along the way.

However, as an effective approach to ensuring a sustainable security architecture, adopting a new plan is absolutely essential.

That’s why most medium to large businesses have dedicated roles within their organization that oversee its security culture and architecture, such as:

  • Information Security Officer (ISO)
  • Virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO)
  • Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

Maintaining routine communication with internal teams regarding the importance of cybersecurity, in addition to having quarterly cybersecurity awareness training and annual network security planning review, are necessary for maintaining maximum protection.

Create a Customized Network Security Plan With CalTech

Network security plans serve as the blueprint to secure networks and safe IT processes.

From strengthening a network infrastructure with stronger security features to remediating your existing network vulnerabilities, a network security plan is your organization’s best practice roadmap to complete network security coverage and proactive uptime protection.

For assistance with creating a network security plan for your organization, our network security specialists can provide you with more information when you contact us today.

We're Integris. We're always working to empower people through technology.

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