How to Build a Cyber Security Strategy in 2022

how to build a cyber security strategy

Cyber-attacks pose a great risk to a business's operations. In fact, they can cause irrecuperable economic damage and tarnish its reputation forever. And yet many businesses keep pouring their entire cyber security budget down the drain by investing in outdated and ineffective solutions. If your company’s cyber security strategy is the same as it was ten years ago, you’re doing something wrong. 

As technology advances, so do the methods that cyber-criminals use to breach security systems and access sensitive data. In the cyber security world, we refer to these methods as the threat landscape. A threat landscape is the collection of potential and identified cyber threats affecting a sector throughout a particular time period.

Keeping tabs on a constantly evolving threat landscape isn’t easy. But it’s not impossible either. The first step is to decide which kind of strategy you would like to adopt – so let’s start by breaking them down.

The two types of cyber security strategies

The truth is that cyber security threats evolve at an alarmingly fast rate. According to a government survey, almost 40% of all UK businesses have identified a cyber-attack in the last 12 months alone. That is not to say that the remaining 60% has been spared. The scary reality is that they could have also suffered from a cyber-attack – the only difference being that they’ve not realised it yet.

When it comes to cyber security, experts have identified two broad types of strategies – reactive and proactive. The main difference between both strategies is one of timing. Reactive strategies focus on identifying and mitigating the effects of immediate incidents – as well as preventing them from happening again. On the other hand, proactive cyber security strategies work towards preventing threats from ever becoming actual incidents.

Let’s dig a little deeper into both terms…

Reactive cyber security

As indicated by its name, reactive cyber security is all about reacting to an incident that has already happened. For instance, let’s say a cyber-attacker successfully infiltrates a network, and steals login credentials and sensitive data. Reactive cyber security measures would detect anomalies related to this security breach – in turn alerting administrators and taking measures to prevent further damage.

We also use this term to refer to security measures that help to prevent a repeat of something that has happened in the past. This is often regarded as cyber security forensics. It involves undertaking investigations of the root causes of the problem and creating a security plan to make sure that the incident doesn’t happen again.

These are some of the most common reactive cyber security measures:

Monitoring: Threat monitoring describes the process of detecting cyber threats and data breaches. A monitoring solution will constantly keep an eye on systems, networks and applications looking for possible incidents as they happen.

Anti-malware applications: This kind of solution uses file patterns and predictive behaviour recognition technology to detect malware-related threats. Most anti-viruses in the market include this kind of protection.

Disaster recovery: A disaster recovery plan involves a number of policies put in place to help an organisation recover from a cyber-attack. The main goal of disaster recovery is to save important files and confidential data from permanent deletion or leakage.

Firewalls: Firewalls are network security devices that monitor and filter incoming and outgoing network traffic. The main aim here is to build a barrier between an internal network and the public internet. The firewall decides whether to allow or block specific traffic based on a set of pre-configured security measures.

Even if you’re not well-versed in cyber security, some of these terms will undoubtedly ring a bell. That is because reactive cyber security measures are a fundamental part of IT security systems. And yet reactive strategies are not particularly in vogue at the moment. A telling statistic is that only 19% of UK businesses have a formal disaster recovery plan in place.

Reactive measures might not be enough to placate threats on their own, but they are still an essential component of a strong cyber security strategy. Why? Think about it this way. Reactive security measures are the outer layers of all cyber security strategies – often taken for granted, often overlooked. But get rid of them and entire security systems will crumble, leaving you exposed to all sorts of threats.

In order to build a robust cyber security strategy, reactive measures must be combined with proactive measures. Let’s have a look at the latter…

Proactive cyber security

Building a cyber security strategy in 2022 is all about getting ahead of cyber-criminals. From cryptojacking to IoT attacks, hackers are coming up with new ways of accessing your systems every other day. Unlike reactive cyber security, proactive measures bulk up your defences before your vulnerabilities can be exploited. By pre-emptively identifying security weaknesses, you are defending yourself from attacks that you don’t even know about yet.

Some of the most popular proactive cyber security measures include…

Penetration Testing: Also known as Pen Testing or ethical hacking, this involves a simulated cyber-attack with the aim to assess the security of a system or network. This ethical attack is carried out by a group of expert Pen Testers, who then draw up a security strategy to fix any vulnerabilities found.

Awareness Training: Cyber security awareness training is a fantastic way of strengthening your endpoint defences because it helps employees to understand risks and identify potential attacks. Awareness training is particularly helpful when it comes to protecting a company from phishing. This kind of attack occurs when a cyber-criminal masquerades as a legitimate organisation and dupes a target into opening an email or message containing malware.

Network Monitoring: This is an automated process that allows companies to monitor their networks and devices for security threats and suspicious activity. Network monitoring minimises data breaches. Most importantly, it prevents cyber security threats from spreading to other areas.

Patch Management: In a nutshell, patch management refers to the process of applying updates to software and networks. Patches help to fix any vulnerabilities found in all kinds of software – meaning your systems are better protected from a cyber-attack.

Due to the sharp increase in cyber security risks brought about by remote working, adopting a proactive strategy is more important than ever. Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between both types of cyber security measures. If you combine the two of them, you will turn your cyber security defences into an impenetrable fortress.

With this in mind, we have come up with a step-by-step guide that will help you build a cyber security strategy in 2022.

Building a cyber security strategy in 2022 – a step-to-step guide

When it comes to cyber security, short-term planning isn’t good enough. The main aim of a cyber security strategy should be to establish a baseline for a company’s security program. Companies can then adapt this baseline to emerging risks as their threat landscape changes. By following the four steps outlined below, your company will be able to build a strong first line of defence that keeps cyber-attacks at bay.

1. Define your threat landscape

The first thing you need to do is to examine your company’s threat landscape. You can do this by asking the following questions: What kind of cyber-attack has your company suffered from in the past? Have any of your competitors had any incidents recently? If so, how did they deal with them? Could they have been prevented? And how?

A company’s threat landscape is defined by the kind of services it provides. For instance, companies dealing with personal data will have to establish strict data protection measures in order to comply with recent regulations. In cyber security, we call this a risk-based approach. Basically, it involves identifying the highest compliance risks to your organisation and making them a priority in your security procedures.

2. Assess your cyber security maturity

Mature cyber security programmes are those that can identify, detect and respond to cyber-attacks in an efficient manner. Building a robust cyber security defence will protect your organisation from all kinds of threats – from ransomware to phishing. It’s not easy for a company to know if its cyber security measures are mature or still need some work. However, there’s one way of doing it.

Performing regular Pen Testing will help you assess your cyber security maturity by undertaking comprehensive risk assessments of your organisation’s readiness to prevent threats. Pen Testing will highlight potential organisational issues and compliance gaps – setting a well-defined pathway to a strong cyber security strategy.

More specifically, Pen Testing allows you to see what an actual hacker could do if they were to target your company. From accessing sensitive data to executing operating system commands, ethical hackers will put all your systems to the test. On top of that, a good Pen Testing service will also assess your organisation’s internal vulnerability to protect you from insider risks.

3. Integrate all personnel in your security strategy

Building a strong cyber security strategy is not just about protecting your organisation from external threats. Sometimes, you can be your own worst enemy. Unfortunately, hackers are well aware of this – so much so that one of their preferred plans of action is to target end-users to gain access to systems and networks. In the cyber security industry, we call this kind of threat a social engineering attack.

Social engineering attacks encompass a broad range of malicious cyber activities accomplished through human interaction. Baiting, tailgating and phishing are a few examples of this kind of attack. Social engineering threats rely on human naivety and lack of IT savviness to steal confidential information. They typically involve some form of psychological manipulation. For example, a hacker might imitate a trusted source and construct a seemingly logical scenario by which an end-user hands over their login details.

There is only one tried-and-tested way of protecting your organisation against social engineering attacks – and that is cyber security awareness training. To start with, awareness training will help your organisation cultivate a security-focused culture. You will instil better habits and raise awareness throughout your company. Awareness training will also empower employees by placing them in the driving seat. It will ensure that there are no weak points in your cyber security strategy – meaning you’ll be protected from both external and internal threats.

4. Implement a disaster recovery plan

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise – no security plan is completely infallible. Any good cyber security strategy must also include a plan B in case things go wrong. Implementing a disaster recovery plan goes a long way toward minimising the effects of a successful cyber-attack. Disaster recovery plans are structured approaches that allow a company to resume work after an unplanned incident – such as a power cut or a denial-of-service attack.

Apart from getting their hands on confidential data, a common objective of most cyber-attackers is to disrupt a company’s workflow. Rendering a system unavailable even for a couple of hours can result in dire consequences for a business. It’s not just about the economic side of things. Downtime has extremely negative effects on a company’s reputation, as it stops you from being available to your customers.

If you want to avoid downtime and protect your systems, it is best practice to implement a cloud-based disaster recovery solution. Why? It’s quite simple. Cloud recovery plans usually come with instant restores and automated backups – meaning your work will always be safe. On top of that, Cloud security solutions offer higher availability than other recovery solutions. On average, it is estimated that only 57% of businesses are successful in recovering their data using a traditional backup solution. With a cloud-based disaster recovery plan, you will always get your data back – and all in a matter of minutes.

A well-defined pathway to cyber security

In our fast-moving digital world, not having a robust cyber security strategy in place is like living in a house with no front door. At CyberGuard Technologies, we can help you craft a strategy that covers all of your company’s security needs. From Pen Testing and vulnerability management to staff security training, we offer a wide range of cyber security services to protect you from all kinds of threats.

Start identifying your weaknesses with a Pen Test