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Building a cybersecurity strategy that matters

Ken Fitzpatrick

24 Apr 2024

Introduction

Hey, we've all been there, right? As security professionals we're often banging our heads against the wall trying to get folks to take our security strategies seriously. It's like we're seeing a storm coming, but no one's listening to our weather forecast.


Sure, you've had some wins here and there, but it feels like you're losing steam. And let's be honest, the bigwigs are starting to get a little tired of all the doom and gloom reports.


By the time Friday rolls around, you're probably finishing the week thinking "Just wait until something goes wrong, they'll pay attention."


You're not actually hoping for chaos. What you're really after is getting the leadership team to understand the importance of what you do, to take it seriously and to support you.


So how about a different tactic to get their attention?


Let’s start with our top three tips for building a Cybersecurity Strategy that matters


Understanding the expectations of external stakeholders

Start by identifying the different types of stakeholders and their cybersecurity expectations for the business.


Determine your external stakeholders for cybersecurity, which may include customers, partners, regulators, shareholders, strategic business partners, or even external VC funding companies.


Next, encapsulate their cybersecurity expectations as a set of user stories. Validate these expectations with your internal teams. If possible, engage business stakeholders to ensure this understanding is accurate.


Analysing the cybersecurity risks to your core business assets

This process involves conducting a comprehensive risk analysis exercise. Our recommendation is to utilise a method known as the Bow Tie risk assessment.


The Bow Tie method is a powerful tool that provides a visual representation of all plausible accident scenarios that could occur. It maps out the potential causes of an event, identifies the safety barriers, and details the potential consequences if those barriers fail.


Using this approach helps in clearly identifying and understanding the risks in a visual manner that enables more effective communication to senior management and leadership teams.


Explain the cybersecurity threat landscape in simple language

It is the responsibility of security professionals to educate businesses on cybersecurity risks they face in a comprehensible and relatable manner.


It is important to bridge the gap between complex cybersecurity concepts and the practical understanding required by non-technical stakeholders.


Storytelling is an effective method for explaining security threats in a relatable manner, only delving into more complex explanations when necessary for the audience.


Summary

To build an effective cybersecurity strategy, understand the expectations of external stakeholders, conduct a comprehensive risk analysis of core business assets, and explain the cybersecurity threat landscape in simple, relatable language.


Utilising tools like the Bow Tie risk assessment to visually represent potential risks and use storytelling to explain complex security threats provide effective ways to bridge those knowledge gaps.


Want to learn more about effective methods to build your cybersecurity strategy, reach out to us on hello@patternedsecurity.com

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