4 Reasons to Run a Security Program Assessment

If you’re part of a business or nonprofit organization, I have a few questions for you that really need answers for right now:

  • How secure is your company’s data?
  • How do you know your data is secure?
  • Do you know what the biggest threats to your organization’s data security are?
  • How many attacks have you thwarted?
  • What security policies do you have in place to prevent data leaks?
  • What cybersecurity technologies do you use to protect your data?
  • Do you know what all of the endpoints on your company’s network are?
  • When was the last time you patched ALL of your company’s software applications?
  • How much money and resources would you lose if your company suffered a data breach?

If the answer to any of these questions is “I’m not sure,” it may be time to run a security program assessment.

What is a Security Program Assessment?

A basic, “meat and potatoes” definition of a security program assessment is that it is a means of assessing how comprehensive and well-developed your organization’s cybersecurity program is. The specifics of the assessment might change depending on who’s running it, but the gist of the idea is that it helps you judge the effectiveness of your current security measures.

So, why should you run a security program assessment? There are many reasons, including:

1) To Discover Potential Weaknesses in Your Company’s Cybersecurity

The most common reason an organization runs a security program assessment is to identify potential weaknesses in their cybersecurity measures so they can be addressed. By examining all of your company’s IT assets—including any software programs and operating systems those assets run—and security policies, it’s possible to identify glaring issues in your cybersecurity posture.

For example, examining your IT assets might reveal that there are unprotected workstations or devices on your network, or applications that are not up to date, which might allow an attacker to compromise your whole network. Additionally, a thorough review of your company’s cybersecurity policies can help you find gaps in your cybersecurity practices, such as a need for a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy to manage how employees use personal devices at work or a lack of awareness concerning cybersecurity risks.

Knowing what your biggest weaknesses are is the first step to improving your cybersecurity posture.

2) To Build a Business Case for Improving Cybersecurity

Some IT specialists in an organization may use the results of a security program assessment to establish a business case for adding new cybersecurity measures. Such reports can be used as a way to show the board or other higher-ups in charge of decision-making processes the need for specific new measures or expenditures.

For example, say that you were having issues convincing the board at your company of the need to invest in an employee training program to educate employees about cybersecurity threats. If, during the course of a security assessment, the assessor ran a test simulating a phishing attack against your business that more than 40% of your employees fell “victim” to, that could be a powerful argument for developing and deploying some kind of awareness program to combat phishing attacks.

3) Because the Threats Against Your Business Are Constantly Evolving

Year after year, cybercriminals find new ways to attack businesses. And, these attacks are increasing in frequency (rising from 82,000 cyberattacks in 2016 to more than 160,000 in 2017, according to data cited by Infosecurity Magazine).

While many attacks rely on old software bugs and exploits, each new day brings the risk that new exploits and attack methods will be aimed at your business. For example, much of the growth in cyberattacks between 2016 and 2017 is attributed to newer ransomware attack strategies.

The longer you remain unaware of a vulnerability, the greater the risk is that it will be used against you. Security assessments help organizations stay aware of their biggest vulnerabilities—including all of the new threats that hit with each passing year. Failing to perform these assessments regularly can mean falling behind and exposing your business to significant risks.

4) Because They Help Keep Security “Front of Mind” for Employees

In the Infosecurity Magazine article cited earlier, it was noted that of the more than 160,000 breaches that were reported in 2017, “52% were the result of actual hacks, 15% were due to lack of proper security software, 11% were dues to physical skimming of credit cards, 11% were due to a lack of internal controls preventing employees’ negligent or malicious actions and 8% were due to phishing attacks.”

While enacting basic protections is a core part of any cybersecurity strategy, one of the most important things is to create and maintain a “cybersecurity state of mind” for people at all levels of your organization. Employees who are conscious of cybersecurity issues are less likely to fall for phishing schemes or make basic mistakes that lead to data breaches—accounting for 19% of all the breach types listed by Infosecurity Magazine. Conducting routine security program assessments and sharing reports from these assessments with employees helps to demonstrate your organization’s commitment to cybersecurity—which helps keep cybersecurity top of mind.

Remember, Security Assessments Alone Aren’t Enough: You Have to ACT on the Information

Of course, merely knowing what your biggest vulnerabilities are isn’t enough to protect your business if you don’t do anything to address those vulnerabilities. It’s important to follow up your security program assessment with a plan of action based on your findings so you can eliminate gaps in your cybersecurity protections.

However, it’s important to remember one thing: there is no perfect defense against cybersecurity attacks. In addition to strengthening your cybersecurity posture, it’s important to create contingency plans for what to do after a cybersecurity breach.

Here, it can help to have the support of a dedicated team of cybersecurity experts. If you need help running a security program assessment or in managing your cybersecurity program, please contact Compuquip Cybersecurity today! We have years of experience in helping companies of all sizes overcome their cybersecurity challenges to minimize their risk.