As organizations operate in a more distributed way, with both remote and in-office employees, attack surfaces multiply and security management becomes increasingly complex.  
To address evolving risks, forward-thinking security leaders are using cyber analytics to create informed strategies that strengthen their security posture and ensure resources are allocated effectively. 
As workplaces transition out of the pandemic and strive to implement sustainable hybrid work models for the long term, the opportunity presents itself to transform today’s security data into valuable insights for tomorrow.  
Read on for a brief strategy framework that will help get you started. 

Assessing risk 

After an abrupt shift to remote operations, organizations are reflecting on the future of work while evaluating recent successes and failures to create efficient, modern workspaces that support key business goals. 
The priority is a solid IT infrastructure that enables secure, productive work from any location. In a hybrid workforce, this includes providing an equitable, reliable work experience for all users; incorporating digital workflows and tools that optimize productivity; attracting and retaining top talent; and enhancing the customer experience.  
Just as technology is aligned to support business goals, cyber security must be aligned to reduce business risk. 
Taking a strategic approach to cyber security requires insight into where the greatest organizational risks can occur – risks that are unique to each business and require top-level guidance and prioritization. 
For example, a municipal government is likely to prioritize protecting critical infrastructure with a goal to reduce remediation time. A small oil and gas vendor might be concerned that their software could allow unauthorized access to clients who are “big fish” targets for cyber criminals. A law firm must maintain lawyer-client privilege and protect vulnerable clients from harm. 
Understanding where your organization can potentially incur the most damage will enable you to establish a framework for your security strategy. 

Identifying vulnerabilities 

While your risk assessment tells you the probability of a vulnerability being exploited, and the harm it can cause your organization, a security assessment tells you exactly where those vulnerabilities lie.  
You need full visibility into the performance of your current security posture. Using tools that incorporate AI such as machine learning, statistical and behavioural analysis, dynamic security assessments deliver highly valuable, actionable insights. 
These types of assessments require a level of expertise that should be outsourced to experienced specialists with sophisticated tools to carry out the job. Outsourcing to a third-party also brings an objective perspective to shine light on unexpected blind spots, a common issue for teams with high management demands. 
There are numerous types of security assessments using different technologies. Standard assessment packages will include features such as: 
 – Application testing that focuses on the design and coding of programs to identify risks to run-time behaviours and the adverse effects of web applications on systems
 – Penetration testing that simulates the threat of malicious attackers and identifies weaknesses in networks, details routes of entries and exploitable resources, and provides remediation guidance to strengthen security posture
 – Compliance scans that provide best practice grading based on manufacturer and industry standards
 – Network device scans, including servers, computers, switches, peripherals, applications and more, to identify known weaknesses using a combination of discovery tools
 – Cloud security reviews to assess configuration, architecture, access, and identification controls 

Building your strategy 

Data-driven presentations are a powerful way to capture the attention of executive management. Educate them on the factors that drive organizational risk, how current technologies support key business objectives, and how a breach could financially impact the business. Share critical security performance metrics and report on how your current infrastructure measures up to industry benchmarks. Wherever possible, use real figures to drive home the financial risk. 
With executive approval and a budget in place, now is the time to start building your security strategy, informed by the insights you’ve gained from your assessments. Begin with a basic plan that addresses only the most critical business risks, prioritizing protection and remediation in these specific areas.  
Starting small keeps planning manageable as you incorporate new technologies and processes while establishing team best practices. It also provides you room to scale up resources when dealing with cost-conscious or change-resistant leadership. 
Use the insights gained from your security assessments to:
 – Focus on identified weaknesses and prioritize immediate security improvements  
 – Update or draft new policies that guide security decisions  
 – Establish best practices that optimize courses of action and align team members
Set SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timebound) with key metrics for each effort so you can continue to measure and build your case for future growth. 

Thinking forward 

Successful security leaders take a forward-looking view of their organization’s future of work, planning for increased digitization, remote capabilities, and how to address the associated risks.  
A scalable security strategy that incorporates cyber analytics facilitates a smart, flexible infrastructure capable of predicting and effectively responding to evolving challenges. 
This generic framework is a great tool to get you started with your existing data so you can make some informed decisions about cyber security resource allocation and investments. In practice, however, it’s critical that your plan is customized to your organization’s specific risk profile and IT environment. 
Cyber security is far too complex for everyone to be an expert. Consider partnering with an experienced security provider such as Ricoh Canada. Our comprehensive assessments and cyber security services deliver the insights and support you need to build a successful security strategy.