I realize it is a bit cheeky for me to make security resolutions for your security program, but I believe you will find these recommendations to be straightforward and highly actionable. In no particular order:
- If you can’t do it, outsource it. Don’t not do it because you don’t have the expertise or the capital budget to buy or manage the particular security control in question. Now more than ever many security controls can be consumed as services as opposed to being purchased in the form of software or hardware appliances. Increasingly security professionals, just like their cousins in the IT department, can leverage the cloud to get the services they need and save money and time to boot. Security professionals should use 2017 to accelerate their transformation from owning every aspect of the implementation and maintenance of the control to being the strategists and architects of their security controls.
- Plan for an incident response now, well before you need to use it. In this era of near certainty of business impacting security incidents, it’s key to plan now for the variety incidents that will likely hit your business. You know what they are likely to be: ransomware, DDOS attacks, email-borne impersonation attacks, botnet infections, insider threats – malicious, accidental, policy violating, and a handful of others. Work with the relevant functions around your organization, write your incident response plan down and run a table-top exercise or two in 2017. It is much better to do it in theory once or twice before you have to do it for real.
- Make employee security awareness training an everyday affair and not a once a year, video watching boredom fest. While no security program should wholly rely on employees to save them from security incidents, having well-informed and engaged employees greatly helps reduce the risk and mitigate the damage of the inevitable breach. Pushing out a 30-minute video once a year does not. Attacks are dynamic and unpredictable, and so should be the user training. Build informative user messages and tests into the daily operation of your security program. When employees do the right thing, let them know. When they don’t, help them understand why what they did was risky. For example, make it easy for them to report likely spam and other suspicious emails. If you must block something they did, like visiting a sketchy Web site, make sure you tell them why they were blocked and what their options are.
- Evaluate your critical business processes and make sure that they are not completely vulnerable to hacked IT systems or the impersonation of executives or critical partners. Given how easy it is to spoof or hack an organization’s email, it is amazing to see how many business processes are 100% dependent on trusting the content in emails. One needs only to consider the number of fraudulent wire transfers that are generated from simple email requests apparently from executives or business partners to understand the absurdity of fully trusting an email. Please make sure every business process of an importance of yours has automated fraud inspection and out-of-band checks-and-balances that are built-in to the process. Don’t expect your users to be the first and last line of defense.
- I realize this resolution is like requesting three more wishes as your third wish from the Genie (Genies don’t go for that by the way), but I strongly recommend leveraging the SANS 20 Critical Security Controls as a key security framework to benchmark your organization for 2017 and beyond. While there is a lot of depth behind these 20 controls, overall I find this SANS list to be both simple and comprehensive. A great framework to use to frame your security resolutions for 2017 and beyond.
For a quick resource, here’s an eBook from Mimecast outlining five tips to combat email-based attacks.
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