FUNDAMENTALS OF A CYBERSECURITY PROGRAM: Internal auditors and information security professionals can join forces to prepare the organization for cyber threats.

AuthorWest, Jon

Recent major data breaches at Equifax and Deloitte are reminders of the dangers of failing to practice cybersecurity fundamentals. At Equifax, more than 143 million records were exposed, including names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and credit information. The Deloitte breach compromised hundreds of global clients' information.

Cybersecurity risk is not just an IT issue--it's a business and audit issue. Collectively, the advice information security and internal audit professionals provide to business leaders has never been more important. To partner in addressing today's cybersecurity challenges, audit and security leaders must start with a little common sense.

Take, for example, a homeowner. There are valuables in the home, so it's important that only trusted people have a copy of the house key. To be prudent, the homeowner should take an inventory of the items in the home and estimate their value so he or she knows how much needs protecting and ensures items are stored securely. The homeowner also should make sure the smoke detectors are working and set up a security monitoring service with video surveillance so he or she can be alerted and react quickly to a potential fire or break-in.

Organizations need to exercise the same principles when assessing the digital risk to customer, employee, and other company information. Auditors and security professionals should prioritize three fundamentals to help make an information security program more impactful and effective.

  1. Improve Visibility

    How can organizations protect what they can't see? Identifying the valuables, or assets, within an organization is probably the most foundational aspect of a security program, and yet it continues to be a pain point. Technical solutions can help, with the right support and funding, but asset management is a process and a discipline, not just a tool.

    Knowing the organization's assets and their value will inform what gets monitored and how. Security monitoring solutions are improving, with richer analytics and machine-learning capabilities as well as more expansive integration. Organizations should monitor their environments around the clock. For small and mid-size organizations that lack in-house resources for such monitoring, partnering with a trusted third party or managed security service provider is an option.

    Another fundamental aspect of improving visibility and monitoring is to proactively look fot existing weaknesses or vulnetabilities and...

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