Cybersecurity Governance & Its Implementation  

Pansy

Pansy

Jul 09, 2024

Cybersecurity Governance & Its Implementation

The evolving threat landscape is giving rise to several new problems like end-point vulnerabilities, third-party attacks, IoT threats, social engineering exploits, etc. While companies cannot eliminate such incidents, they can prepare and minimize the impact of these threats. 

This is where cybersecurity governance comes in—it helps companies formulate security strategies, enable business continuity, meet stakeholder expectations, and minimize the impacts of threats on their operations.

This article delves into the basics of cybersecurity governance, its importance, key elements contained, benefits and challenges, and the role of automation in it. 

TL;DR

Cybersecurity governance defines the risk appetite of an organization and creates an accountability framework for developing policies and managing incidents. 

Implementation includes identifying requirements, building a control framework, assessing security posture, enforcing SIEM, and showing proof of security through audits.

Benefits include asset protection, regulatory compliance, and reputation safeguarding, though challenges like inconsistent monitoring and lack of training persist.

What is cybersecurity governance?

Cybersecurity governance is a strategic initiative to implement strong cybersecurity measures, minimize the impact of security incidents, and enable business continuity by continuously monitoring and adapting to the evolving threat landscape.

Cybersecurity governance is the part of the overall GRC process that sets policies and procedures in place while defining the roles of all the stakeholders involved in the decision-making process. 

Shannon Noonan, Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPT) defined cybersecurity governance as,

An overarching governance approach to implement and educate people throughout the organization (about compliance requirements and regulatory aspects) and not just telling them what to do as a checklist.”

The governance element in cybersecurity and GRC is more than just giving employees a list of tasks; it’s about ensuring they understand the importance and context of these requirements.

According to CISA (U.S.), cybersecurity governance has five components:

  1. Accountability frameworks: These define the roles and responsibilities in an organization to cover all kinds of cybersecurity-related tasks.
  2. Security decision-making: It contains the body and the hierarchy that is responsible for making decisions on cybersecurity. 
  3. Risk management program: Defining risks related to business objectives and its mitigation processes.
  4. Security policies and procedures: Guidelines and instructions on how cybersecurity processes should function in the organization and an insight on the overall governance policy.
  5. Incident response: It defines how the organization should respond to security incidents and events and what preventive measures must be taken. 

Why do organizations need cybersecurity governance?

Cybersecurity governance helps organizations define their risk appetite, assign responsibilities to create an effective accountability framework, develop security policies and procedures, and manage incidents effectively. It aids organizations in aligning their business objectives with cybersecurity strategies and overviews risk management and compliance requirements.

Every organization has its unique requirements, and hence, a rigid structure of managing its cybersecurity risks does not work. In contrast, cyber governance works at a board level where senior leadership and stakeholders work together to define security objectives and chart a course to effectively achieve them. 

Cyber governance also improves the company’s overall stance on security and sets up clearly defined processes for the current and future personnel and stakeholders to follow. 

The National Cyber Security Center of the New Zealand Government notes that

Accountability for cyber security sits at the top of an organization because cyber security outcomes affect the entire business. The board is also best positioned to manage competing risks and align cyber security with other business activities.

Implementing a strong cybersecurity governance framework

The approach to building a robust cybersececurity governance program will be different for all companies depending on size, industry and type of business. The chosen implementation method should align with the company’s goals while ensuring complete operational security.

The steps to implement strong cybersecurity governance are as follows. 

1. Identify your requirements

Determining your organizational goals will make your cybersecurity goals clearer. Collaborate with stakeholders and leadership to identify your strategic goals and align your security objectives accordingly. For example, your strategic goals could be penetrating new markets. 

In order to do this, you must, for instance, comply with GDPR (as a requirement to operate in the European market) and implement a TPRM (Third-Party Risk Management) system for new vendors and partnerships. 

The easy path to GDPR compliance

2. Build a control framework

The next step is to build controls that pertain to the requirements decided on. These controls will check whether all your organization’s assets, including its people, vendors, infrastructure, devices, risks, and policies, are following the governance requirements. 

Taking the same example above, to implement TPRM, you need to build controls like:

  • Completion of due diligence
  • Vendor risk level
  • Validation of new vendors
  • Periodic review of Vendor Risk Assessment

The status of the controls will inform you if the processes are functioning as they should or if there are any gaps you need to address. 

3. Enforce security awareness training 

A recent study showed that consistent security awareness training reduced employee phishing susceptibility from 60% to 10% within 12 months.

Conduct a periodic security awareness training program using free courses, workshops, or webinars. Give your employees a run-through of your security policies and procedures along with the stakeholders involved. The training should include standards for cybersecurity practices and the controls implemented. 

Tip:

If you are adopting new cybersecurity measures for compliance requirements, customize your training modules according to the respective frameworks.

Check out Sprinto’s built-in security training modules

4. Minimize impact and ensure business continuity

Governance plays a key role in managing the impact of cyber incidents and ensuring that business continuity is maintained. It involves detecting incidents, responding to them, taking steps to resolve them, and documenting them for the future. 

Jeff Crume, Distinguished Engineer, and CTO of IBM Security suggests enforcing an SIEM (Security information and event management) strategy to manage incidents at an early stage with a range of tools: 

  • Endpoint detection response: Evaluates individual assets and informs on any breaches or malicious behaviors. 
  • Network detection response: Informs if anomalies occur at a network level. 
  • Threat intelligence feed: Informs on what kind of threats are operating in the external environment relating to your respective industry.
  • Attack surface management: Denotes how exposed your company is to threats and attacks and how this surface can be reduced.  

To recover from incidents, you can restore backed-up data if the incident was related to data loss while maintaining its integrity. Depending on the type of incident, you may also have to notify affected individuals. This should be followed by documentation on the root cause of the incident, its path, controls affected, and what efforts can be taken to avoid such events in the future. 

5. Monitor your cybersecurity controls 

Monitoring your cybersecurity controls includes a range of measures:

  • Conducting a security assessment
  • Testing security controls against threats
  • Assessing your risks
  • Scanning and fixing your vulnerabilities

Control monitoring should also include changing/modifying your cyber security controls to adapt to evolving threat landscapes and market standards. This can involve making policy changes to ensure that your system is up-to-date against recent threats. 

Proper monitoring ensures that governance is not just a piece of paper but is present in your company in a tangible form that can be easily assessed. This can process can be made further accurate and efficient by incorporating automation in it. 

“Automation is a forcing function that brings governance to life in the day-to-day operations of a business. Sprinto at its core is an automation engine. It automates your ability to keep track of security controls.”

Meeta Sharma, Product Marketing Lead, Sprinto.

Fastrack your GRC efforts through automation

Benefits of cybersecurity governance

Having effective cybersecurity governance pertains to the following benefits:

1. Protects your critical assets: Implementation of cybersecurity governance safeguards your assets while maintaining confidentiality, integrity, and availability. It does so by ensuring that security controls are working effectively and are being monitored constantly. 

2. Ensures regulatory compliance: It aligns your company’s cybersecurity program with industry standards and governance frameworks while keeping in mind business goals. 

3. Safeguards vendor relationships: Proper cybersecurity governance verifies that all your vendors comply with the strategic and security requirements of your company. This is done through effective monitoring of your cybersecurity practices and controls. 

Challenges of cybersecurity governance 

Three main challenges that companies are expected to face while implementing cybersecurity governance are:

1. Inconsistencies in control monitoring: Efficient governance requires constant tracking of security controls, and this is not possible without the help of a real-time automated system. Governance is a part of GRC that aligns security compliance with business objectives. 

For example, IT governance frameworks like NIST mandate that organizations should continuously monitor their systems to be aware of any vulnerabilities and threats. 

Learn more about NIST best practices

2. Insufficient employee training: Lack of training is a common compliance oversight that most companies suffer from and end up paying hefty penalties for. Information security governance is incomplete without an organization’s employees being unaware of its principles. 

For example, the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas lost $3.2 million due to an employee’s lack of awareness about HIPAA policies. As a result, 3,800 PHI (Protected Health Information) were exposed from a stolen device. 

Read more about HIPAA violation examples

3. Lack of resources: Because of the soaring costs, not all companies can afford to implement effective cybersecurity governance to monitor their controls and fix vulnerabilities. In fact, GRC automation can cost an SMB around $75,000- $150,000  (GRC pricing).

Complete Audit Budgeting In Minutes

Cybersecurity governance with 80% automation

Cyber governance makes use of a range of tools for its effective functioning:

  1. SIEM tools (Security information and event management)
  2. Risk management tools
  3. Vulnerability scanning tools
  4. Employee training modules
  5. Continuous security monitoring tools

Because of its wide reach, governance cannot operate without such tools. However, having several tools to monitor your cyber network will make processes more complicated and expensive. Hence, organizations prefer shifting to a more holistic approach like GRC automation.

Sprinto is one such platform that helps with all the above processes while ensuring comprehensive monitoring and tracking of security controls with 80% automation. It makes governance easier by reducing both cost and effort while scaling your business. 

Save 80% of man hours spent on GRC

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much does it cost to implement cybersecurity governance?

Implementing cybersecurity governance through GRC solutions costs $75,000 to $150,000 for small-scale deployments and $250,000 to over $500,000 for enterprise solutions. With Sprinto, the cost is reduced by 60%. 

2. What role does CISA play in cybersecurity governance?

CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, U.S.) creates and manages guidelines for information security, and collaborates with federal agencies to strengthen their cybersecurity and response to incidents. It protects the networks that are crucial to our country’s key functions.

3. What is the role of CISOs in cybersecurity governance?

The role of CISOs in information security governance includes:

  1. Collaborating with departments and external partners.
  2. Sharing cyber threat information with stakeholders.
  3. Align strategies with business context and engage stakeholders.
  4. Develop and improve information security governance program.
  5. Hold the company accountable to cybersecurity standards.
Pansy

Pansy

Pansy is a content marketer and CS engineer with a keen interest in all things cybersecurity. She is currently exploring the world of marketing through the lens of cybersecurity with Sprinto. When she’s not working, she’s either deeply engrossed in political fiction or honing her culinary skills. You may also find her sunbathing on a beach or hiking through a dense forest.

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