The most effective way to ward off threats from hackers is a sophisticated and, above all, proactive IT security concept. But for this to happen, IT security status must first be determined and clear objectives set.
Many companies are unsure which hacker attacks they need to protect themselves against and whether their IT security measures are sufficient to maintain ongoing business processes. Furthermore, there are uncertainties about assessing your IT security status and implementing the proper measures to improve the level of protection.
To do this, it is imperative to identify an actual and target state, which then precisely specifies the need for activities and the corresponding budget for security investments. To get more clarity, it is first necessary to define a required security level as the targeted security status. The current level of protection, i.e., the current state, can then be compared and gaps in IT security made transparently.
Creation Of An Evaluation Process Framework
A reliable IT security program requires an ongoing process framework for evaluating the respective cybersecurity measures. This enables companies to regularly identify risks and challenges to adopt and take appropriate measures to achieve the goals set.
Since every company has a different security status, the various development stages of the security levels must first be assessed and possible measures derived from them. In addition, suitable comparable companies from the respective industry should serve as references as additional criteria.
1st Stage: Starter
Companies at this level have no formal security guidelines or functioning security governance. Although most companies score above such an initial level, there are still organizations at this level of security.
A rating at this level is unacceptable for any company that owns, manages IT assets, and has obligations to shareholders, investors, regulators, or taxpayers. For the safety roadmap as a starter, crash programs are recommended to build up a solid CISO position or similar, set up safety governance committees, and increase staff for safety infrastructure positions.
2nd Level: Advanced
A typical company in this development phase already has a security program, some security processes, and infrastructure elements working effectively under development. However, such companies tend to have weaknesses in essential areas like network segmentation or zoning. Therefore, they score relatively low in general identity and access management (IAM).
In this phase, one rarely finds a high level of responsibilities and automation in security processes or advanced technologies for vulnerability management, activities to prevent data loss (DLP), or security information and event management (SIEM).
The most significant identified gaps should also be closed for the security roadmap at this level. It is advisable to proceed in different steps by first providing the basics and then the extended functions. For this reason, the implementation of sophisticated DLP and SIEM functions or the comprehensive provision of Privileged Access Management (PAM) should generally only take place after the introduction of essential IT functions such as service ticketing, asset management, and IAM have proven themselves with digitalization.
3rd Stage: Maturity Level
Companies in the maturity phase have already implemented a comprehensive set of security processes, guidelines, and documented technical controls. However, they tend to continue to rely too heavily on individual efforts. Processes such as change management, audit, and supply chain security still need to be improved. In addition, companies should become more active in increasing the knowledge and awareness of security in each task area and refining security monitoring, analysis, and control of the management of privileged access.
The security roadmap at this level focuses on audit, change management, advanced security monitoring, and tools to improve protection in terms of verification and accountability. With an essential process and technology infrastructure, risk management, vulnerability management, SIEM, and PAM can run at full speed.
Companies with a “degree of maturity” should concentrate on the following instruments: KPIs and risk KPIs introduced in the initial or development phase must now be checked and expanded. Because optimized instruments also improve accountability from a risk or financial perspective.
4th Level: Administered Maturity Level
Companies already have comprehensive people, processes, and technology controls in this development phase. However, you are still dependent on manual processes and, given the constant changes in the threat, regulatory, technology, and business situation, face new challenges to keep the security program running.
Therefore, security roadmaps at this level must concentrate on increasing the degree of automation of the infrastructure and the processes through which the security program is to become more cost-effective and more scalable. For example, complex functions such as vulnerability management or security monitoring could increasingly be orchestrated across hybrid public / private cloud environments.
5th Stage: Optimized Degree Of Maturity
At this level, the implemented security programs are already very comprehensively equipped. However, such companies are usually very saturated and have deceptive security thinking. It is often ignored that maintaining many, if not most, optimized security programs require continuous risk, business, technology, and financial analysis given the constant changes.
The security roadmap for a 5th level company focuses on sustainability and adaptability through continuous work on sustainable processes and technology interfaces. The aim is to establish an organization that supports the continuous optimization of the security program.