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5 Steps for Building a Cybersecurity Roadmap to Reduce Risk


Craig Davis

Director, IT Services

In brief:

  • Cybersecurity is the top business risk for enterprises worldwide
  • Cyberattacks are growing in frequency and sophistication, particularly with the use of AI and Generative AI
  • A cybersecurity maturity roadmap is key to assessing your organization’s cybersecurity readiness and ensure continuous improvement
  • Learn the key components, benefits, and steps for building and implementing a cybersecurity maturity roadmap successfully

Cybersecurity has emerged as the top business risk for enterprises worldwide, according to the 2024 Allianz Risk Barometer. Leading technology executives have warned that we are currently in a “cybersecurity pandemic” as attacks become more sophisticated and the number of entry points increase. In fact, a major bank recently said it faces an astounding 45 billion hacking attempts in a day!

The rapid advancements made by Generative AI (GenAI) in recent years have only compounded this issue, with bad actors now needing little or no technical skill to harness this technology to carry out more undetectable phishing attacks as well as increase the volume and velocity of attacks. 75% of security professionals surveyed in the 2023 Voice of SecOps Report said they witnessed an increase in attacks over the past 12 months, with 85% attributing this rise to bad actors using generative AI.

Cyberattacks can be costly. The average cost of a data breach touched a record high of $4.45 million in 2023, IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report found, with 95% of breached organizations having experienced more than one breach.

These alarming statistics indicate that cyberattacks are no longer just a possibility, but an inevitable event waiting to happen to businesses irrespective of size or industry. For an organization to be able to defend and recover from such attacks with minimal impact and in the shortest possible time span, it needs to continuously assess its security posture, identify areas for improvement, and implement security controls and processes to mitigate risks.

Building a cybersecurity maturity roadmap is key to achieve this.

A cybersecurity roadmap is a comprehensive framework that outlines the proactive approach to achieve their cybersecurity goals and objectives and mitigate risks, comply with industry regulations, and protect their assets and data.

Components of a Cybersecurity Maturity Roadmap

A typical cybersecurity maturity roadmap should include the following components to ensure comprehensive and structured approach to cybersecurity:

  • Current security posture assessment: This assessment evaluates the organization’s existing cybersecurity measures and practices and identifies strengths and vulnerabilities.
  • Security Maturity Level Target: Clearly defined cybersecurity goals aligned with the organization’s risk tolerance and business objectives. These need to be specific, measurable, and time-bound.
  • Gap analysis: The gap analysis identifies the difference between the organization’s current security posture and its target security maturity level.
  • Framework Selection: Adopting a well-chosen cybersecurity framework, such as NIST or ISO 27001, can provide a valuable starting point for measuring and improving your organization’s cybersecurity maturity. It can help align your security initiatives with recognized best practices and potentially relevant regulations.
  • Action plan and timeline: The action plan outlines the steps that need to be taken to achieve the organization’s target security maturity level, with milestones and timelines for each phase.
  • Budget and Resource Allocation: Identification of budget, personnel, and technology to achieve the targeted security maturity level, allocated based on priority and criticality.
  • Communication plan: The organization also needs to develop a communication plan to keep all relevant internal and external stakeholders informed of the progress of the cybersecurity maturity roadmap as well as the protocols for reporting and addressing security incidents.

Getting buy-in from executive leadership for cybersecurity maturity initiatives is an essential prerequisite for cultivating cybersecurity maturity and implementing a roadmap. It is important to communicate the benefits of cybersecurity maturity to leadership and show them how investing in cybersecurity can improve the organization’s bottom line. Measuring the success of initiatives undertaken as part of the maturity roadmap is an effective way to demonstrate the value of those initiatives and to identify areas where additional investments may be needed.

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Benefits of a Cybersecurity Maturity Roadmap

There are many benefits to creating a roadmap for improving your organization’s cybersecurity.

  • It helps the organization identify, prioritize, and address its cybersecurity concerns. This helps in optimizing resource allocation and ensuring that security investments are focused where they are most needed.
  • It provides a framework for developing and implementing security controls and measures for incident response and recovery, ensuring organizations are well-prepared to handle and recover from cybersecurity incidents.
  • It helps track the maturity of the organization’s cybersecurity program over time and helps make necessary adjustments.
  • It facilitates communication and collaboration within the organization and between stakeholders, employees, and partners, fostering awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and their roles in maintaining it.
  • It helps comply with industry-specific regulations, aligning the organization’s cybersecurity practices with regulatory standards as well as protecting your customers’ data and trust.

A mature cybersecurity posture makes for a more secure business, making your organization more attractive to clients, investors, and partners.

5 Steps for Creating a Cybersecurity Roadmap

1. Conducting a cybersecurity assessment

This is the first and most important step for creating a roadmap. The assessment should be conducted by a team of cybersecurity professionals or an experienced third-party vendor and should include a thorough evaluation of the organization’s current cybersecurity posture, including its risks, strengths, and weaknesses.

It should focus on key areas such as endpoint and network security, identity and access management, data protection, application security, and incident response. Physical security, governance, and compliance, as well as mobile and cloud security, should also be considered.

The assessment should also identify any regulatory or compliance requirements that the organization must meet, and the cybersecurity framework to be adopted. The outcome of the assessment should be a comprehensive report that includes recommendations for improving the organization’s cybersecurity posture.

2. Setting goals and objectives

Once the assessment is complete, and the organization identifies the gaps between the current level of its cybersecurity maturity and where it aims to be, the next step is to set goals and objectives, (i.e., the targeted maturity level).

The goals set should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Some examples of SMART goals: implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all user accounts by the end of Q3, achieving a 20% improvement in employee awareness of phishing threats through training sessions within six months, establishing a Security Operations Center (SOC) and hiring qualified personnel within six months, etc. These should also include achieving compliance with security frameworks and industry-specific standards and regulations, such as PCI DSS for implementing secure coding practices for all e-commerce applications and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability) for enhanced data encryption protocols for healthcare providers, in a timebound manner.

Some common metrics which can demonstrate the value of these initiatives to leadership include the number of security incidents, blocked attacks, the time it takes to detect and respond to security incidents, and the cost of security incidents.

The goal-setting process should involve a wide range of leadership such as C-suite executives (i.e., CIO, CISO), IT teams, risk and security management, legal and compliance teams, human resources, finance, business unit representatives, internal audit, external consultants, as well as communication/public relations specialists. This ensures comprehensive coverage, collaboration, and alignment with organizational objectives.

3. Developing an Action Plan

Once goals and objectives have been established, the next step is to develop a plan to achieve them. This plan should include:

  • Specific actions and timelines for applying new security controls, such as implementing assets such as a firewall and updated security software, training employees on cybersecurity best practices, etc.
  • A budget for the implementation of new security controls and technologies.
  • Measures for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the new security controls and technologies. These can vary across organizations depending on the industry and company size.

4. Implementation

This is where the plan is put into action, and new security controls are put in place. It is important to track the progress of the plan and make any necessary adjustments. For this, a governance body needs to overlook the implementation of the devised plan. The governance body should include:

  • Board members
  • C-level executives including the CEO, CIO, CISO, etc.
  • A Security Steering Committee with representatives from across departments, including business unit heads, IT, legal, compliance, risk management, and communications.

The implementation phase should also include regular testing and validation of the security controls and technologies to ensure they are working as intended.

5. Regular Reviews and Assessments

This is essential to measure the success of the action plan and its implementation in the real world to adapt and improve security measures, ensure ongoing effectiveness, and resilience against emerging cyber risks. The review assessments should include penetration testing, vulnerability assessments, and compliance audits. Third-party penetration testing, which involves hiring an external firm to simulate cyberattacks, is key to validating the security of operating systems and should be performed annually.

Putting together and implementing a cybersecurity roadmap can be daunting and expensive, as well as require specialized expertise and skills which are often not readily available in-house. Hiring a Managed Security Services provider (MSSP) as an implementation partner can offer specialized expertise, continuous monitoring, and access to advanced technologies in a cost-effective manner, allowing organizations to enhance their security posture effectively while not losing focus on their core operations.

Implementing a cyber security roadmap is incomplete without the organization cultivating a culture of cyber security in the long term. A strong cybersecurity culture is essential for improving the level of security maturity by making employees aware of the importance of cyber security, fostering a sense of responsibility, and reducing incidents of employees unknowingly enabling hackers.

Written by

Director, IT Services
Craig is an Information Technology Leader who has a real passion and a strong track record for delivering significant improvements to IT Organizations specifically, IT Service Delivery, Cloud Services, IT Operations, Project Management (PMO), and IT Service Management functions. He has experience in Service Delivery and IT Operations, Cloud Migrations and Services, Customer Satisfaction Improvements, Financial Management and Cost Containment, Strategic Planning & Implementation, Contract Deployment & Implementation, and ITIL, and IT Service Management. He previously worked for companies like CoreLogic and First American Finance Corporation. He holds a Bachelor degree in Computer Science from Tyler Junior College and other certifications in IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Amazon Web Services (AWS)

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