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Amp Up Your Cyber Risk Strategy: 3 Imperatives to Implement Now

Recently, CEOs around the world ranked cyber risks as the #1 threat to business growth. This isn’t a surprise. Attack surfaces have all exploded in the past few years, thanks to hybrid work, increasing use of the public cloud, and rapid digital transformation.

Meanwhile, cyber threats are becoming more pervasive and elaborate. If it isn’t ransomware that’s locking a company’s files, it’s a social engineering or phishing attack that’s manipulating employees to give up confidential information.

Supply chains are also creating new entry points for cyber criminals to amplify their attacks. The SolarWinds breach, for example, left 18,000 customers, including Fortune 500 companies and government agencies, vulnerable to hackers.

The reactive cybersecurity strategies of the past are no longer effective. It’s time to actively anticipate, manage, assess, treat, and most of all, prioritize cyber risks to keep your organization safe.

In 2021, the world saw an unprecedented 105% surge in ransomware attacks

3 Imperatives to Future-proof Your Cyber GRC Program

Here are 3 essential capabilities that forward-looking CISOs are using to get – and stay – ahead of cybersecurity risks.

1. Harmonize Cybersecurity Frameworks

Cybersecurity frameworks aren’t new. They’re invaluable tools for managing, assessing, and managing risk. Some of the most commonly used and trusted include:

  • The NIST Cybersecurity Framework. The NIST Cyber Security Framework, or CSF, is one of the widely used frameworks for cyber security. Published by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST CSF helps organizations assess and refine their approach to cybersecurity and cyber risk management based on organizational readiness and outcomes. It lays out five broad functions identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover as preventative steps against cyber risk. Recommended measures include always using antivirus software, keeping computers fully patched, continuously monitoring for risk, training employees on social engineering, assigning and managing credential authorization, and many more.
  • ISO 27001 enables organizations to identify and manage information security risks. It recommends 114 information security controls in 14 categories ranging from access control to cryptography. Organizations with ISO certification can gain customer confidence and preferred supplier status along with strong information security.
  • PCI-DSS. The PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a global payment industry standard that provides a baseline of technical and operational requirements designated to protect payment data. It includes 12 requirements and security controls to protect cardholder data. Failure to comply with these standards can result in fines from credit card companies and banks and even the loss of the ability to process credit cards.

These frameworks are all useful and valuable. In fact, in most organizations, you’ll find yourself needing to use more than one for the most effective results. That brings a new challenge: connecting and harmonizing across the frameworks.

The same challenge applies to regulatory compliance. From US HIPAA to the EU Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA) and GDPR, to Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), the volume of cybersecurity and data protection regulations that organizations are expected to comply with today is immense. Requirements often overlap and others vary about what constitutes a cyber incident, or when to notify customers about it.

For a deeper dive into the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, read Towards Cyber Resilience: NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework for Ransomware Risk Management

Reconciling all these disparate standards and requirements can be overwhelming for cybersecurity teams. Which definition should you use? Are you creating and testing duplicate controls? The point of a framework is to streamline and improve effectiveness and efficiency, not create debate and unnecessary work.

Some industries are making a concerted effort to harmonize cyber regulations. For example, the Financial Services Sector Cybersecurity Profile integrates widely used standards and supervisory expectations into one framework that acts as a shared baseline for regulatory examinations. But currently, integrated frameworks like these are more the exception than the norm.

So, how do you harmonize compliance controls and map them to risks and processes?

You could try to go about it manually – which would be tedious and cumbersome. Or, you could use software solutions that help you map controls with assets, risks, processes, regulations, and policies on a many-to-many basis providing comprehensive visibility and eliminating redundancies and duplication of efforts.

One solution is the Unified Compliance Framework (UCF) Common Controls Hub, the world’s largest library database of interconnected compliance documents and commercially available Common Controls Framework. It provides access to a consolidated de-duplicated list of controls, which helps consolidate cybersecurity controls across multiple IT and compliance regulations.

The UCF’s Common Controls Hub integrates with MetricStream’s CyberGRC solutions, purpose-built to manage cyber risk and compliance. With a common control framework, you can “test once and comply with many”.

You can also get up and running quickly with simplified frameworks directly with MetricStream, which streamlines the process with more than 1,000 cybersecurity controls and content pre-built into the platform.

Typically, controls are mapped to risks and processes. It is also vital that risks and controls are mapped to policies and procedures as well. If there are too many exceptions in the policy, those exceptions play an important role in how effective the control is.

- Simplify and Accelerate Your IT Compliance by Leveraging a Common Controls Framework

2. Quantify Cybersecurity Risks in Monetary Terms

From DDoS attacks to zero-day exploits, cyber risks are constantly increasing. Trying to tackle them all at once is neither practical nor efficient. The risks have to be prioritized. But how do you know which risks to address first, or where to focus your cybersecurity investments?

One option is to use traditional risk heat maps that rank risks based on a high-medium-low scale. But these tools don’t always provide in-depth insights since they’re qualitative and high level. In fact, they can create more questions than answers.

For example:

  • In a high-risk segment, how do you determine which risk is #1?
  • How much more risk does it represent than the #2 risk in the same category?
  • What prevented #3 from being included in the high-risk category?

Compounding the challenge, the data on a heat map may be interpreted differently by different people. For example, a #3 risk that you think needs to be mitigated on priority might not be seen the same way by your board. But if you can quantify the risks with hard facts and metrics, consensus is easier to achieve.

Let’s say you knew that a data breach had a 20% chance of occurring and would cost your organization $2 million in losses. Now, the risk becomes clearer.

Financial currency is a language that everyone from the board across the enterprise understands.

By measuring cyber risk in monetary terms, you can provide better answers to the board on how that risk should be prioritized, what kind of actions need to be taken, and how much to invest in mitigation.

By accurately understanding the loss exposure, organizations can determine whether to pass the risk (by purchasing cyber insurance), forgo the risk (when the required investment is more than the financial impact of the risk), or take actions based on their risk appetite.

With properly quantified risk data, you understand the true impact and probability of a risk. You know where to focus your cyber investments, and how to reduce your risk exposure in line with business objectives.

- Power What’s Next by Measuring Cyber Security Risks: A Deep-dive Guide Into Cyber Risk Quantification

MetricStream empowers CISOs to quantify cyber risk with an advanced analytical engine, including but not limited to the FAIR® model. Factor Analysis of Information Risk or FAIR® is a standard risk quantification methodology that complements existing risk management frameworks from organizations such as NIST, ISO, ISACA, etc. It is widely used by organizations across industries, including banking, insurance, retail, manufacturing, healthcare, high tech, and many more.

With MetricStream’s quantification, cyber leaders can trigger Monte Carlo simulations to generate range-based dollar estimates and predict the probability of different loss outcomes.

MetricStream also provides the flexibility to build custom models, use various factors (e.g., min, max, most likely to occur), and capture values (e.g., threat event frequency) to generate more accurate estimates.

These objective insights can help you assess risks more accurately, demystify cybersecurity for your board, and make better-informed decisions about where to target your cybersecurity investments.

3. Automate Compliance and Control Monitoring

Let’s assume you’ve identified your cybersecurity risks and implemented robust controls. Now, you need to monitor those controls to make sure they’re working as expected.

Cybersecurity and compliance professionals typically spend hours manually testing controls, with only a limited number of controls covered through a sample-based approach. The resulting insights provide a point-in-time view of control effectiveness, rather than real-time insights.

With cybersecurity risks and compliance requirements constantly evolving, we need faster and more frequent insights on control effectiveness. That’s where continuous control monitoring (CCM) can help.

CCM solutions enable you to assess security controls continuously (or at intervals you select), so you know whether you’re keeping risks in check and complying with cybersecurity requirements on a day-to-day basis.

The best part of CCM is that testing and monitoring processes are automated. So, you can identify control gaps faster, and resolve them before they turn into issues.

CCM MetricStream

MetricStream CyberGRC makes CCM for cloud environments simple. Organizations can automate testing of critical controls and gain real-time visibility into control performance to prevent gradual compliance drift. CyberGRC supports industry-standard compliance frameworks like ISO 27001 and NIST CSF. Customers using it have reported up to 60% reduction in control testing time

Build Cyber Resilience with MetricStream CyberGRC

MetricStream CyberGRC enables organizations like yours to transition from a manual and reactive approach to IT and cyber risk and compliance management to an automated and proactive approach.

Built as an intelligent, interconnected solution for IT and cyber risk and compliance, threat and vulnerability, IT policy, and IT vendor risk management, CyberGRC helps you stay ahead of cyber risks while ensuring compliance and bolstering cyber resilience.

See it in action for yourself. With MetricStream CyberGRC, you can

  • Actively manage, measure, and mitigate cyber risk across your entire enterprise
  • Gain real-time visibility and quantified risk insights across IT, cyber, and third-party/vendor risk
  • Prioritize cyber investments while optimizing spend and ROI
  • Comply with IT policies and get up and running fast with built-in content and frameworks
  • Continuously monitor risk and controls for effectiveness

To request a personalized demo of MetricStream CyberGRC, click here.

How MetricStream enabled a U.S. Telco Giant to Make Cybersecurity Decisions 60% Faster by Quantifying the Dollar Impact of Cyber Risks

One of the world’s largest communication technology giants was justifiably concerned about potential security breaches. The company, which has millions of customers and thousands of network points, records a whopping one billion plus threats per day.

So, how do they determine which of these risks need the most attention and investment? By quantifying them in terms of dollar impact.

Today, MetricStream Cyber Risk Quantification is helping the company transform cyber risk data into a single risk score that’s quantified in terms of dollar impact.

These actionable insights have accelerated decision-making time by 60%. Cyber teams are better able to prioritize investments, while boards and leadership teams can provide stronger oversight of cybersecurity. This quantified cyber risk metric is both credible and real-time, and the cyber risk taxonomy is mapped to the relationships across cyber risks, assets and business lines, covering the 100+ systems monitoring the security posture.

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