For most companies, determining acceptable levels of risk is a subjective exercise. The decision typically rests on the ethos of senior leadership: Are they growth-oriented risk-takers, or more conservative and measured in their actions?

Other factors influencing risk include your company’s reputation in an industry. For example, if you’re known for being astute in the processing and storing of personal data for customers, your security posture will likely be more thorough, compared to a small company that’s trying out new tactics for optimizing cloud services.

The bottom line is your company’s cybersecurity risk posture is highly dependent on your company’s overall risk culture.

What Is Cyber Posture?

Cyber posture, also called security posture, is the security status of all software, networks, services, and information in your organization’s possession. Your cyber posture encompasses all controls and procedures that protect your company from attacks, your organization’s ability to defend against attacks underway, and your ability to react or recover from any data breaches.

This posture covers all network components, users, and any stored data that could be compromised. It entails assessing the effectiveness of current security methods and software in repelling threats.

To determine the effectiveness of your cybersecurity posture, you must first conduct a cybersecurity risk assessment; this will determine your degree of exposure across multiple assets inside the organization. Identifying your risks and possible vulnerabilities helps the executive team to decide which control activities should be performed first because those steps will have the most effect on improving your cybersecurity posture. As your cybersecurity posture improves, your cybersecurity risk should decline.

How to Strengthen Your Cyber Security Posture

Because hackers move so quickly, an organization’s cybersecurity activities should never cease. Focus on the following areas when establishing a solid cybersecurity posture.

Establish a Cybersecurity Team

Consider forming a specialized cyber team to monitor the organization’s cybersecurity posture. They will be able to prevent possible events and assure that your organization’s security efforts are commensurate with its risks.

A strong team can also dedicate more time to general maintenance, assuring that everyone is pleased on all fronts and that both employees and senior management understand cybersecurity regulations and why security is vital to the organization.

Monitory Your Posture Regularly

Because the cybersecurity industry moves quickly and new standards emerge constantly, you must check your organization’s cybersecurity posture at regular intervals (say, once a year). This helps you to prevent emerging cyber threats and breaches from becoming a significant problem.

Develop a Robust Cybersecurity Culture

If you foster a solid security culture inside your organization, you will reduce risk from the start and be able to avoid future mistakes and catastrophes. Employees who understand the security environment are less vulnerable to phishing attempts and are aware of standard practices such as frequently upgrading devices and applications.

Adhere to a Cybersecurity Framework

Cybersecurity frameworks help companies to adopt and follow a consistent approach for security. Different sectors have different frameworks, based on their particular demands for compliance and data protection. In the United States, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published numerous widely used security frameworks.

Prepare for Attacks

Every company should be ready for a cyber attack, so develop an incident response plan that can guide employees through what they should do if an attack happens. Responding swiftly to a cyber assault may help you prevent downtime, defend your reputation, and save money.

How Do You Assess Risk Posture?

The first step in assessing risk posture is a vulnerability assessment to uncover any gaps in your cybersecurity system. It’s best to use an external auditor or security consultant to review your current IT ecosystem to identify security issues.

Your vulnerability assessment report should include recommendations to fix any gaps in your system and provide information about current business processes that weaknesses in your IT system might affect.

Next, conduct penetration testing after remediating any cybersecurity gaps found during the assessment. Penetration testing is a great way to gauge your company’s preparedness for attacks (it tests all the measures you put in place to seal up the vulnerabilities found in the previous step) and can help your team understand how well your system responds to data breaches or phishing attempts.

How to Improve Security Posture

If you don’t already have one established in your organization, start by creating a risk management team. Your team should include leaders from all departments and include the following: a chief information security officer, privacy officer, compliance officer, marketing representative, product management officer, and a human resources specialist.

Once your risk management team is assembled, catalog your business assets, including infrastructure and any services your company provides. Be sure to include third-party vendors in your asset list, because they pose one of the most significant risks to your company’s information security.

Next, perform a cybersecurity risk assessment on those assets. Consider risks to systems, networks, and software that are critical to your business operations, and determine sensitive information that requires availability, confidentiality, and integrity maintained. This process is crucial and will help your team analyze each identified risk and assess the probability and impact of each security threat.

After completing your risk assessment, implement security controls, including network segregation, encryption, anti-malware, anti-ransomware software, firewall configuration, and multi-factor authentication. Other security controls include password protocols, workforce security awareness training, and developing a vendor risk management program.

Finally, create ongoing monitoring and review incident response protocols to help round out your risk management program and elevate your cybersecurity posture. With cyberattacks an ever-present risk, your organization should aim to monitor continuously in real-time for cyber threats.

Improve Your Security Posture with Reciprocity ROAR

The Reciprocity® ROAR Platform, which powers Reciprocity ZenRisk and ZenComply, lets you view, understand, and respond to your IT and cyber risks. That visibility can then help you improve your security posture.

With a unified, real-time view of risk and compliance that is framed around your business priorities, you will have the insight needed to communicate with key stakeholders to make smart quickly, strategic decisions that will protect your enterprise, systems, and data; while earning the trust of your customers, partners, and employees.

The Reciprocity ROAR Platform integrates risk observation, assessment, and remediation operations into a single trusted source of truth. A risk operations center overviews your overall risk and compliance posture, while program-level reporting provides specific insights and indicators.

Schedule a demo today to reduce audit fatigue by reducing evidence collection to prevent mistakes and enhance productivity.