Successful cybersecurity initiatives need to be launched by a business leadership team that's clearly framed risk for the rest of the organization. That said, many executives defer this responsibility to the CISO or IT personnel because they think this group is most familiar with DFARS requirements and other regulatory rules. Seems like a smart move, right? Not necessarily. Ultimately, threats need to be assessed in terms of what’s important to the organization, so tactical teams can spend money on protections that matter and ensure they have the right expertise on hand.
Taking ownership of cyber risk management isn’t as hard as it sounds. As a first step, leadership just needs to start asking themselves the right questions. At the end of the day, even an ordered list of priorities can align the IT team around the critical asset protection, not just compliance measures.
How to Prioritize Risk & Build an Effective Cybersecurity Strategy
Defense industrial base (DIB) organizations can ask themselves these questions to determine which risks are the greatest threat to business and national security.
1. What’s important to the business?
When organizations fixate on regulations, all vulnerabilities seem equally detrimental because each gap has equal weight on the (NIST SP 800-171, DFARS, ITAR, etc) compliance checklist. While this approach is straightforward, it doesn’t acknowledge the real-world implications of each risk.
Think about it this way – a dime and $100 bill don’t have the same value, but they’re both considered “currency.” Similarly, two vulnerabilities may pose different levels of organizational risk, but reducing them to “compliance gaps,” eliminates the distinction.
Instead, companies need to consider the business impact of different hazards and take action based on that information. That’s why determining what’s important to the organization is the first step to building a more effective cybersecurity campaign.
2. What’s the worst that can happen?
Now that leadership knows what’s most important, it’s time to bring in experts who understand the latest threats. A CISO will be a huge resource here – if they’re adept at risk-based thinking. The new list of priorities will be their guide as they consider how bad actors could harm or access the business’ key data.
While reviewing CMMC compliance guidelines may be a part of this exercise, it can’t provide the core insights. Due to the long approval process for new legislation and rules, most regulations are out of touch with current risks by two years or more. That’s why the IT team should use their industry expertise to consider how today’s cyber threats could affect the company’s critical assets.
3. How would hackers try to get in?
Once IT understands which gaps pose the greatest risk to key data, it’s time to get tactical with a cybersecurity strategy to fill those holes first. Unfortunately, many businesses fall short here because they don’t have the time or talent to fully implement and integrate cybersecurity technologies.
This step is where it can make sense to augment an internal IT department with cybersecurity specialists who are in touch with the ever-changing methods hackers use to breach DIB organizations. Company leadership can also choose to empower their existing team with cybersecurity-specific tools that monitor progress in real-time.
Build a Risk-Based Cybersecurity Framework with Cyber Risk Management Software
Adaptive cyber risk management software, like ARMED™, allows organizations in highly regulated industries to make data-backed decisions based on insights from the visibility of security controls, events, and levels of service.
It creates radical operational transparency, so mission-critical data is centrally-available and easily reported back to the leadership team who can make sure cybersecurity execution is in line with the company vision.