To keep its digital assets and IT systems protected, a company needs to maintain a strong security posture.
Security posture readiness begins with an understanding of all the different systems and processes it needs to safeguard, plus a thorough appreciation of what it takes to improve its overall cybersecurity readiness.
Types of security posture within an organization
Maintaining a strong security posture involves evaluating and strengthening the systems and resources across all its digital operations, including:
- Network security posture ensures the protection of any data, applications, devices, and systems connected to the network through such measures as controlling access and installing antivirus software.
- Data and information security posture keeps data protected from corruption and prevents loss from unauthorized access.
- Vendor security and management involves maintaining the integrity of data flows between organizations.
- Software as a service (SaaS) security posture mitigates risks from third-party applications.
- Cloud security posture ensures data stored on shared servers is protected from other entities using those servers.
How to assess security posture
All systems and applications should be reviewed with an eye toward understanding how prepared they are to withstand an attack. Security leaders need to ask:
- Is there a clear understanding of the types of threats and vulnerabilities across the IT ecosystem and with each specific area of security?
- Is there a clear view into all systems and applications?
- Are there systems and processes to detect and mitigate attacks?
- Does the company have sufficient automated cybersecurity systems in place?
8 steps for improving security posture
1. Inventory all IT assets
The foundation of security posture is a full accounting of all its computing assets, including those currently in use and older systems with components that may still be in operation. An inventory audit includes any assets that connect to the network, such as SaaS and cloud operations. Finally, it needs to identify any technologies that are being used without the approval or knowledge of IT teams or leadership.
2. Conduct a security assessment
After IT assets are inventoried, a cybersecurity risk assessment will map those assets against their potential vulnerabilities, along with their ability to prevent or respond to attacks.
3. Prioritize cybersecurity risks
Once an organization understands where its vulnerabilities are, those risks can be prioritized based on the level of threat they pose to the organization as a whole. This triage approach allows organizations to then put resources behind mitigating those threats that pose the greatest potential business impact.
4. Monitor critical security vulnerabilities
The cybersecurity landscape is constantly changing. In order to protect against the most severe threats, systems should be put in place to continuously monitor and evaluate emerging risk and the strength of IT systems.
5. Develop an incident management plan
In case of a breach, an incident management plan outlines the appropriate responses, detailing procedures and roles, specific to the types of attack.
6. Automate threat detection, remediation, and mitigation
Leveraging technology that automates cyberthreat detection and mitigation can help create a more proactive cybersecurity posture. This may also include building security into software and applications to help organizations stay ahead of threats.
7. Transition to a DevSecOps policy
A DevSecOps approach integrates security into the process of software development and deployment by IT operations. This elevates the importance of daily security application monitoring by including evaluations of software code itself. DevSecOps also involves dynamic security testing—where administrators can play the role of hackers to attempt to identify areas of vulnerability—as well as combinations of software-led monitoring of applications and performance within the organization. This approach also leverages runtime applications to identify threats in real time, and can work to help remediate threats as quickly as possible.
8. Consider cybersecurity training
A holistic approach to security requires every employee to be a gatekeeper against security threats. Professional development and cybersecurity education can empower all employees to understand the basics of cybersecurity and to recognize the importance of every individual in working proactively to minimize threats and vulnerabilities. In this way, organizations can position themselves for robust security and significantly impact how well it is protected from all kinds of cyberthreats.
Threats and vulnerabilities are always changing. As a result, strong security posture requires constant assessment and optimization.