How to Take a Holistic Cyber Risk Culture From Grassroots to Maturity

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There’s usually one catalytic moment that forces an organization to get serious about managing cyber risk: 

  • The company suffered its first breach and leadership found themselves awe-struck by the associated financial losses and the cost of recovery.
  • An external audit turned up a few too many bad findings.
  • The board needed information quickly to make an important decision, but when the risk team went to run the report, their spreadsheet-based system broke down and they realized that way of doing things could never keep up with the sheer scale of risk the business is facing.

Regardless of how it happens, there comes a point for most organizations where they realize that the status quo of how they’re handling cybersecurity and cyber risk management is no longer sufficient and needs a major upgrade.

But cyber risk touches nearly every corner of your organization, and bringing it under control can’t be done in a one-off, case-by-case, or siloed fashion. Approaching cyber risk management in such a disconnected, piecemeal way is exactly what led to that major incident in the first place.

Rather, building a mature cyber risk management program that will keep your business’s data and assets secure requires a holistic approach—one that makes sure you have eyes on every cyber threat your business is facing at all times. It also requires a paradigm shift in your organization’s risk culture.

Let’s explore how to get the job done.

Start small

One sure-fire way to increase the odds that implementing a new, potentially complex, cyber risk management program fails is to try to overhaul all of your processes, all at once. Sure, you just had a major incident that requires a response, but what you don’t want to do is overreact and make things even worse. Trying to get hundreds, even thousands, of people to change the way they do things overnight introduces lots of opportunity for human error, and that’s a recipe for disaster in cyber risk management.

Instead, start small. Begin implementing your cyber GRC program in one department—perhaps the one that was at the center of the incident that spurred you into action in the first place. Start shoring up or developing that department’s business continuity plans, testing its existing controls, or implementing new ones.

The key here is to build processes and policies that will allow this department to get a better handle on the cyber risks it faces and can easily be scaled to the rest of the org. It helps to start by using a proven cyber risk management framework, like SOC 2, ISO 27001, or NIST.

Once you’ve selected your framework—or decided to create something custom to your organization’s needs—it’s time to take an inventory of your cyber risk surface and prioritize the most important threats to focus on first. Then, start testing and improving the controls around those threats.

Break down silos during research and implementation

As you begin building the foundation of your cyber risk program in that single department, start bringing in leads from other parts of the business that have a stake in what you’re working on where appropriate.

Demonstrating that you’ve begun to catalog your processes and assets will allow these other stakeholders to begin organically noticing where both of your teams’ priorities align, and where you can begin sharing data and information to improve both of your initiatives and your overall organizational cybersecurity.

As more teams that deal with manual risk management and compliance tasks—like internal audit, risk, IT, legal, third-party and vendor management, or purchasing—are brought into the fold, you’ll be able to start connecting the dots across your organization’s entire cyber risk landscape, and that’s the point where you’ve shifted your culture over to a holistic approach to cyber risk management.

Once all of this risk data has begun flowing between departments, it’s important to have a modern GRC platform that can capture and centralize all of it to provide an overall view of your cyber risk, or you risk running into some of the same problems that caused your catalytic event in the first place.

Start tracking impact from day one

The final challenge is getting the support of your executive team to implement holistic cyber risk management organization-wide. As you build your program, it’s critical that you establish unified KPIs and KRIs that can be used to track progress and demonstrate your program’s effectiveness.

One of the most effective ways to track and communicate this information is through cyber risk quantification. Risk quantification allows you to understand and report the precise scale of the loss your organization stands to experience absent an effective cyber risk program, and nothing gets leadership to take action quite like an impending major financial loss.

Having a holistic cyber risk management program in place will ensure your organization is less likely to face another major event—and it can even become a competitive advantage. LogicGate Risk Cloud’s Cyber Risk and Controls Compliance Solution includes everything you need to build your holistic cyber risk management program. Request a demo today to learn how to get started.

And, learn how Horizon Media built their own holistic cyber risk program from the ground up.

SOC 1®, SOC 2® and SOC 3® are registered trademarks of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in the United States. The AICPA Trust Services Criteria for Security, Availability, Processing Integrity, Confidentiality, and Privacy is copyrighted by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. All rights reserved.

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