In modern times where every organization is partly or completely dependent on information technology for its day-to-day operations, the security posture of a business is a deciding factor for its success. Of course, if you cannot perform your usual operations, how are you going to succeed as an organization?
That is why every organization — big or small — must regularly evaluate and validate its security. Also, you must continue improving your security posture seeing the advancements and changes in the information technology space. That said, let’s get to know more about security posture and how to evaluate it.
What is Security Posture?
Security posture — aka cybersecurity posture — of any organization is the overall security status of its whole computing and networking infrastructure including its data, hardware and software assets, networks, and services.
Since it covers a huge amount of entities and services, you must understand its complete scope to fully protect your organization. That said, security posture majorly includes assessing and analyzing three components in an organization:
- Your organization’s measures to protect from cyberattacks.
- Your ability to control the defenses against security events.
- Your readiness to respond to and recover from security events.
Why is Security Posture important for a Business?
Nowadays, most of the organizations heavily — if not completely — rely on cyber or information technology systems and processes to perform their business. And a cyberattack may temporarily or permanently severely these components. At the least, if an organization cannot perform its business for a day, it is going to lose 0.27% annual revenue and may affect its reputation and share price.
However, if the cyber attack is successful in gaining access to an organization’s valued assets such as its critical data or intellectual property, the organization may lose a lot more. For example, most government agencies and organizations deeply care for their security postures, so they usually avoid working with any business having bad security posture, so fewer opportunities for you then.
For instance, Equifax — one of the largest credit bureaus in the US — experienced a data breach in 2017.
“Equifax will pay about $650 million — and perhaps much more — to resolve most claims stemming from a 2017 data breach that exposed sensitive information on more than 147 million consumers and demonstrated how little control Americans have over their personal data. The settlement is vast in its scope, resolving investigations by two federal agencies and 48 state attorneys general and covering every American consumer whose data was stolen — or just under half the population of the United States,” wrote The New York Times. But Equifax’s problems did not end here: it lost its customers’ trust and its reputation as an organization, which then affected its share prices.
How to Evaluate the Security Posture?
The cyberattack surface of an organization spans across its tech infrastructure — applications, cloud services, mobile and network endpoints, and more. Since all of these elements can be compromised in a variety of ways, the process of evaluating and improving the security posture of this entire ecosystem is big and complex. That is why it is mostly followed in three steps in the following order:
- Security posture visibility: Analyzing the current status of every element.
- Security posture assessment: Identifying and assessing any possible gap.
- Security posture transformation: Eliminating the gaps to boost posture.
Here, security posture assessment is the step of evaluating the security posture. That means security posture assessment helps understand your organization’s position in its cybersecurity journey. That said, you need to ask these questions to understand the security posture and evaluate its performance and solidity:
- Is your organization secure from common cyberattack techniques?
- How extensive and thorough is your security process and strategy?
- How damage-proof are your organization’s cybersecurity controls?
- Can you precisely measure the risk of getting an attack or breach?
- Can you correctly calculate resilience against an attack or breach?
- How successful is your vulnerability management program/team?
- How vulnerable is the ecosystem to potential attacks or breaches?
These are the most-asked high-level questions when evaluating the security posture of an organization. Then, there are many low-level questions which cover the inclusivity of the security posture. That is why organizations usually go for a cybersecurity risk assessment for evaluating their security postures.
The reason being cybersecurity risk assessments evaluate the risk of getting attacked or breached, which has an inverse relationship with the security posture. As the cybersecurity risk decreases, the security posture increases. And it is a popular assessment method with numerous frameworks approved and tested by the cybersecurity industry as well as government agencies. Such an assessment helps avoid or miss common pitfalls, which then helps guarantee the success of evaluating the cybersecurity posture. Of course, this assessment must include all elements of your organization’s tech ecosystem for good results.
Last but important, you must not overlook or undermine the importance of vendors in your organization’s security posture. Nowadays, many organizations rely on outsourcing for bringing novel or strategic talent and reducing costs. Since these third-party vendors act or work as the outsourced taskforce of your organization, you must count them while evaluating your security posture as well. That said, you must opt for a third-party assessment framework and continue evaluating and improving the security posture of your vendors for improving your security posture and reducing risks of attacks and breaches.