What is a Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan?

“Nearly 80% of senior IT and IT security leaders believe their organizations lack sufficient protection against cyberattacks.” (Forbes) Cybersecurity and privacy should be first on the priority list for every company looking to do business in 2022. Businesses should be pursuing a digital transformation to improve security and privacy in the modern digital marketplace.

Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plans (CSIP) arm an organization with the tools to protect itself against Catastrophic data breaches

  • Theft of important Personally Identifiable Information (PII) data
  • Damage to your organization’s brand (both reputationally and operationally)
  • Severe financial loss (regulatory fines and loss of revenue generation)
  • Systemwide failures (downtime) and hardware damage
  • Loss of investment capital

In this blog article, we’ll discuss which organizations need a Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan (CSIP) and how you can begin to prepare your organization for this digital transformation.

1. Companies that are just getting started with defining their internal cybersecurity measures.

Companies that are just beginning to understand the need for a refined and thorough cybersecurity strategy are often those who have faced recent intrusions or are part of an industry that has dealt with a major cyberattack or similar catastrophic security breach.

Often, cybersecurity strategy and intrusion prevention may be an afterthought in a world filled with what seem like (at first glance) more pressing dangers such as the pandemic and the myriad of problems that COVID-19 has brought with it. Businesses without even the basic level of cybersecurity are wide open for hackers and bad actors to invade and rob the most precious of corporate and personal data. Due to remote work and the increased use of cloud computing and SaaS, businesses are now required (in most industries) to begin to comply with local and industry security frameworks and regulations to protect personally identifiable information and classified data.

Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan (CSIP) will assist this type of organization in:

  • Beginning to build a thorough understanding of the security gaps and intrusion opportunities for your business
  • Prioritizing security and access controls to protect intellectual property and personally identifiable data (PII) of employees, customers, and clients
  • Embarking on the road to compliance with legal and industry security requirements
  • Educating employees on the importance of security frameworks and protecting access to critical areas of the business and its intellectual property

2. Businesses that are being asked by potential partners how they secure their organization and their data/applications for compliance in contracts.

As Know Your Business and FISMA requirements become the standard rather than the norm, companies who wish to engage in strategic partnerships or complex mergers and acquisitions need to demonstrate not only their security readiness but also their ability to protect themselves and respond to cyber-attacks and protect both classified and corporate intellectual property.

Entering into a partnership with any organization, whether federal or private, can have its risks, and securing data and private information is often required by both contractual agreement and federal law/regulation.

Information Security Requirements Found In Contract Clauses

Contracts can contain often overlooked or disregarded clauses that can have major impacts on the ability of one or more parties to effectively carry out the contract and eventually breach the contract terms and endanger both their reputation and status in their industry as a whole. Information and data security, specifically when discussing the concept of intellectual property when two businesses endeavor to work together in a partnership is one of the most touchy subjects as even the smallest data breaches can cause major issues for a company’s ability to send a product to market and to avoid reputational damage.

Businesses/Industries Requiring Data Privacy Clauses/Data Security Agreements

Several sectors and industries(and categories of businesses) require data privacy and information security including many that require live data transfer and auditing (particularly organizations partnering with government agencies or working with these agencies).

These include:

  1. Data-based businesses
  2. Educational Institutions (colleges, universities, and technical institutes)
  3. Banks and financial service firms
  4. Money Service Providers
  5. Governmental agencies
  6. Medical and healthcare
  7. Utility sector

5 Ways CSIP Protects Businesses Entering Into Partnership Agreements

According to McKinsey, “to decrease enterprise risk, leaders must identify and focus on the elements of cyber risk to target. More specifically, the many components of cyber risk must be understood and prioritized for enterprise cybersecurity efforts.” Below we’ve listed five ways CSIP protects businesses entering into partnership agreements:

  1. CSIPs are built to evaluate the current security gaps that can lead to data breaches.
  2. Client data is protected as CSIPs close potential security loopholes.
  3. Employee data and communications can be segmented to protect against reputational damage.
  4. Financial data and risk of catastrophic loss are mitigated by access controls and Know Your Employee safeguards.
  5. Damage from data breaches and unauthorized intrusions can be quickly detected and mitigated using a proper Incident Response Plan.

Ensuring that an organization’s intellectual property/data handling, transmission, and security policies protect against breaches and intrusions allows for peace of mind as organizations work together towards a shared strategy. CSIPs function as both a preventative and proactive stopgap in the event of a potential intrusion or cyberattack and should be written with even the rarest circumstances in mind.

Are you entering into a partnership agreement or beginning to explore a contract with a government agency? Contact Us for a free consultations.

3. Organizations whose board or shareholders are looking to make sure the company is protected from ransomware and/or social engineering attacks to minimize risk and maximize recovery.

Company shareholders and boards representing the interests of corporate entities and enterprises worldwide are tasked with ensuring that their companies are protected from major cyber attacks, extortion attempts such as Ransomware, and social engineering attempts.

Ransomware Threatens Data Privacy & Security At Highest Levels of Government & In Corporate Office

Ransomware is some of the most difficult software to protect against and has plagued security, disaster, and data recovery professionals as well as forensic analysts for years. Ransomware is “a type of malicious software (malware) that threatens to publish or blocks access to data or a computer system, usually by encrypting it, until the victim pays a ransom fee to the attacker. In many cases, the ransom demand comes with a deadline. ... Ransomware attacks are all too common these days.”(Pinpoint) Is your company or enterprise equipped with a CSIP section identifying and planning for a ransomware attack?

What Exactly Are Social Engineering Attacks & What Risks Do They Post?

Social engineering attacks are psychological attacks designed to penetrate the psychological defenses of an unsuspecting individual or group of individuals at a company, large enterprise, or federal facility for all sorts of gains (be they access, financial, or bragging rights). Imperva defines social engineering as a “term used for a broad range of malicious activities accomplished through human interactions. It uses psychological manipulation to trick users into making security mistakes or giving away sensitive information.”

5 Types of Social Engineering Attacks to Look Out For

  1. Phishing Attacks - one popular attack is using spoofed customer service accounts on social media to attain the personal account and financial information of customers in order to impersonate or build identities from a fraction or a piece of their identity documents or information.
  2. Spear-Phishing - This is a phishing attack that is targeted at a specific person or persons. The malicious actor(s) will already have very detailed information about whom they are targeting, such as their name, email address, specific job role, information about that role, etc. Most, if not all, the information is typically gathered from the target's social media accounts and other open source information locations. This will help to build a quick rapport and aid them in manipulating the target to bypass normal security protocols for their own benefit.
  3. Whaling - an advanced form of phishing attack that specifically targets high-level executives or a high-level Politically Exposed Person (PEP).
  4. Tailgating - this type of social engineering attack is more common than you may think. This is where a person or group waits near an area that is off limits to them and simply walks in behind someone that is authorised to be in that area. Perhaps you’ve held a door open for someone you didn’t know to save them the inconvenience of having to badge in themselves.
  5. SMS Phishing - a type of social engineering attack very similar to email phishing. This is typically sent to many cell phone numbers with a message hoping to catch you off guard and click the malicious link. Spear-SMS attacks are on the rise.

How Can CSIP Help Prevent These Attacks?

Your organization’s CSIP will help you identify your organization’s cybersecurity weaknesses on the technical side and the human side of the house. Using this information the CSIP will help you proactively build in safeguards, access controls, and response strategies to mitigate and avoid risk to your enterprise’s most valuable assets.

4. Businesses that are looking to develop or establish a more robust Incident Response and Disaster Recovery plan to limit financial consequences in the event of a data breach.

Incident Response & Disaster Recovery Plans help protect your organization from data breaches and financial consequences that can cause catastrophic damage including financial and reputational loss. Businesses that are looking to develop or establish more robust IRP and DRPs should look at creating and implementing a robust and all-inclusive Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan (CSIP).

Financial Consequences of data breaches in 2022

Data breaches have led to major financial consequences both in terms of regulatory fines and direct financial loss to the organization. According to IBM, “Data breach costs rose from USD 3.86 million to USD 4.24 million, the highest average total cost in the 17-year history of this report.”

All-Inclusive CSIP Buffers Existing IRP and DRPs

CSIP plans help to act as an additional safeguard and strengthen your existing Incident Response Plan and Disaster Response plans. A well-designed CSIP attempts to protect your organization against cyberattacks, breaches, and social engineering attempts while training your staff to understand and evaluate red flags before they turn into disasters.

5. Organizations who know they have technical debt after prioritizing "go-to-market".

Security or market vulnerabilities exist due to shortcuts taken to accomplish production or design goals by software development companies. Intellectual Property and trade secrets/program code are a few of the most prized possessions for hackers or cyber-terrorists to gain access to. This is why CSIPs are so important. Subterfuge and manipulative tactics (possibly found in social engineering attacks) have been known to open the door for trade secrets and weaknesses or bugs to be publicized or exploited by competing firms. Ensuring that regular security audits and vulnerabilities are identified and data security or access control gaps are closed should be one of the highest priorities for any INFOSEC or cybersecurity director.

CSIP can protect your firm’s IP and hard-fought progress while ensuring that your investors who believe in your idea and software product can rest easy knowing that the chances of your trade secrets leaking on the internet or falling into competitors’ hands are slim to none.

6. Companies that are starting to work in highly regulated environments such as Government work, Healthcare, and Financial Services.

Highly regulated fields require data protection and privacy assurance policies and procedures. Security plans such as CSIPs and IRPs allow for business to remain as usual and innovation to occur through cross-collaboration be it governmental entities working with private enterprises or data to be shared instantly across an encrypted and safeguarded network.

Regulations & Privacy Policies by Industry

Healthcare: HIPAA

Healthcare workers and hospitals (and those involved in collaboration with these entities and healthcare professionals) are required to abide by this law. The HIPAA Privacy Rule establishes “national standards to protect individuals' medical records and other individually identifiable health information (collectively defined as “protected health information”) and applies to health plans, health care clearinghouses, and those health care providers.” (US Dept. of Health and Human Services)

Penalties for violating HIPAA include:

  • Disciplinary action and/or loss of professional license
  • Monetary fines and or financial sanctions
  • Possible incarceration sentence

Government: FISMA

Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) applies to all agencies within the U.S. federal government. Since the law was enacted in 2002, “the federal government further expanded the reach of FISMA into the private sector and dramatically increased implementation oversight. Now, any private sector company that has a contractual relationship with the government, whether to provide services, support a federal program, or receive grant money, must comply with FISMA.” (McAfee)

Many organizations and large enterprises were caught off-guard unaware that they possibly violate this law and others designed to protect the privacy and integrity of information and data existing or traveling to and from government agencies’ networks or servers.

Consumer Data: CCPA, CDPA & CPA Regulations

Consumer data is extremely sensitive and some of the most highly sought-after data by hackers and bad actors. The CCPA empowers California residents with the:

  • right to opt-out of third-party data sales,
  • the right to be informed of data collection and rights,
  • the right to have collected data disclosed
  • the right to have collected data deleted
  • the right to equal services and prices

Data Privacy in the US & UK: European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation, (GDPR)

Data privacy in the US and the UK has been thrust to the forefront with the amount of recent data breaches and major financial losses that organizations have suffered both due to their hands-off lack of compliance and to the intrusions and use of stolen data. Enterprises that fail to comply with these strict privacy regulations (and similar laws) have been subject to fines that reach in the tens of millions of dollars.

How Can NextLink Labs Help You Build Your Cybersecurity Strategy For Your Business?

There are no comprehensive, off-the-shelf cybersecurity tools. Every company requires a custom solution based on industry space, e-commerce platforms, records storage, and other considerations. Begin with the steps below to assess your vulnerabilities and let NextLink Labs help you build and implement your Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan (CSIP):

Step 1. Understand your cyber threat landscape

Step 2. Assess your cybersecurity maturity

Step 3. Determine how to improve your cybersecurity program

Step 4. Document your cybersecurity strategy

Step 5. Regularly Audit & Ensure Compliance

Remember: a CSIP Is Your Organization’s Path To Compliance, Schedule a Call with us for more information on how NextLink Labs can help you comply with federal laws and industry regulations.

NextLink Labs Will Help You Ensure Compliance

At NextLink Labs, we are committed to serving our clients by consistently finding ways to enhance their cybersecurity and protect them from catastrophic loss.

We encourage companies to #BeCyberSmart year-round. Current cybersecurity threats keep companies on their toes, and they require consistent assessment and prevention measures to combat.

Our expertise allows us to help you build and integrate a cybersecurity strategy and implementation plan that allows your organization to ensure that your sensitive data and your clients are protected against even the most complex cyber threats and malware.

If your company needs help securing your network, lean on our expertise at NextLink Labs. These simple first steps are a must in protecting your valuable data, but if you want to know how we can further enhance cybersecurity at your company, schedule a free call with us today!