Five Ways Executives Can Optimize Cyber Security Spending

In 2021, ransomware attacks cost the world over $20 billion. With cyber attacks and ransom pay-outs at a record high, CEOs are losing sleep as they struggle to find worthwhile investments that will keep their operations secure. 

Cyber security should be a top priority for any C-suite looking to avoid crippling fines for data breaches and reputational damage. However, mindlessly pouring more money into cybersecurity does not automatically result in increased preparedness. 90% of CIOs acknowledge that their companies spend millions on inefficient security solutions.

Most organizations do not have a methodology to validate and operationalize cyber security, and this is why they ultimately end up paying out attackers. But those that have cyber security best practice at the heart of their culture, will be better placed to make business savvy investments that protect their network.

When strategizing about how to operationalize their security infrastructure, organizations should concentrate on:

The Right Team - In today's hypercompetitive cyber skills market, providing expert  training has proven to be the best tool to retain the best talent .Staff thus feel valued and invested in by their employers, driving them to perform operationally effective security.

Live-Fire Security Exercises - Every professional sports team and special forces military squad has one thing in common: they train first for individual skills, then they train as a team under hyper-realist conditions to validate whether they are ready to accomplish their missions. Cybersecurity teams should follow the same process to validate whether they are ready to protect, prevent and perform operational cybersecurity best practices.

Trust, but Verify  - Verifying how businesses behave under attack, being able to separate the significant signals from the noise and knowing they have the right configurations is often the difference between being secure or being compromised.

Security is Everyone’s Problem - No matter how state-of-the-art your technology is, 85% of breaches are in fact due to human errors. Being able to emulate users' traffic, mistakes and behaviors is the real key to building cybersecurity confidence.

Executive Commitment - It takes executive commitment to be a secure organization and operation. Leaders have to talk about how security impacts brand, customers, social responsibility, and demonstrate that it is a mandatory practice for everyone.  

Test Your Security Stack

Before and after every update to a stack, whether it’s a purchase and integration or a deletion from inventory, CISOs must test their security stacks. Red team exercises allow organizations to do this while simultaneously upleveling staff. In these exercises, red teamers will act as hackers and throw everything they can think of at the company’s network.

Old and new attack tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) will be deployed to see what cracks and what stands strong.

CISOs and their teams should keep detailed logs of the effects of these simulated attacks on their network before and after adjustments to the security stack, so they know for the future which tools lock doors and which burst them wide open. Businesses have to ensure that both consolidation and expansion don’t lead to vulnerabilities, and that potential threats inherent within the stack itself are minimal.

Validate Your Team & Processes

Cyber training experts swear by tabletop exercises, but they’re only as good as the table they’re on if you don’t actually practice a response. CISOs need to evaluate their team’s incident response skills and make sure they have hired people who have the capabilities to identify threats and respond to them quickly and effectively.

One way to do this is through purple teaming – when red teams (acting as offense) and blue teams (acting as defense) work together to share knowledge. Purple teaming enables team members to collaborate with one another, and identify personal strengths and weaknesses. This way, staffers can significantly improve efficiency by distributing workloads appropriately to ensure their incident response procedures are coordinated. 

Following the exercise, teams should hold a post-mortem to identify if any training programs need to be developed to boost employees’ abilities. A problem addressed should always be coupled with a solution. CISOs are responsible for providing team members the tools they need to be better at their jobs and for working with them to figure out where else they may best perform on the team. 

Instill Confidence in Tech and Personnel 

After testing both the stack and personnel, CISOs should ensure every member of the team is acquainted with each tool in their stack and involve their team in the decision-making process when making adjustments. They should let their teams conduct trials with different tools before making a decision about which ones to invest in. 
 
Despite common misconceptions, CISOs aren’t just responsible for making sure their company isn’t hacked. They’re responsible for making sure their tools and people are working as a united front to keep the bad guys out and ensure that other business divisions are able to operate without disruption. Identifying gaps doesn’t just mean finding the holes in the technology or the team, but figuring out how they can be more effective together. 

CISOs may already have the tools they need to succeed in their backyard. They may also have holes in their staff or stack that are sucking in money and time and producing zero return on investment. The businesses that invest in resources that build confidence in the personnel-tech relationship will be best placed to protect their network and their bottom line.

Lee Rossey is CTO and Co-Founder of SimSpace

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