As we kick off the new year, there’s every indication that the role of the chief information security officer (CISO) will only become more valuable. Organizations of all sizes are paying more attention to cybersecurity, with research showing that 88 percent of CISOs said the company’s board of directors had begun spending more attention to cybersecurity over the past 12 months. In addition, more than 70 percent of CISOs and other executives said that cybersecurity improved in their organization during 2022.
Despite these advances, there’s more work to be done for the CISO role. 58 percent of CISOs expect that world events in 2023 will cause their IT security budget to increase. Meanwhile, less than 40 percent of senior executives believe they have fully mitigated their cyber risks.
So what are the IT security issues that CISOs and businesses continue to face, and how can they be addressed? This article will go over 5 steps that you can take to improve your security posture in 2023 and beyond.
1. Strengthening email security
Email security is a key component of your organization’s cybersecurity posture — yet all too often overlooked. With just a few clicks on a suspicious email link or attachment, employees can be fooled into giving up their login credentials or installing malware that wreaks havoc throughout the IT environment.
Improving email security is particularly important in 2023 due to the recent emergence of threats such as so-called “ransomware as a service” (RaaS) toolkits. RaaS software enables anyone with enough cash to launch their own ransomware attacks, significantly lowering the technical barriers to entry.
When businesses suffer data breaches, email accounts are also a prime target for attackers. Email messages and attachments may contain a wealth of sensitive and private data: everything from usernames and passwords to financial documents and trade secrets.
Training and education programs can help users recognize suspicious emails, but mistakes still happen. In 2023, look to deploy robust email security solutions that encrypt messages and data both in transit and at rest. Questionable attachments and URLs should be automatically scanned, detected, and quarantined or flagged for analysis.
2. Developing incident response plans
From holding fire drills to writing a will, no one likes to imagine the worst that can happen — but it’s only with these proactive steps that we can truly plan for disaster. For businesses facing a cyberattack, preparation comes in the form of incident response: a plan for identifying, containing, and resolving IT security incidents promptly and efficiently.
Failing to launch an effective response after a data breach can result in a host of financial, legal, and reputational damages. Despite the massive risks, however, 63 percent of executives and 67 percent of small businesses say they still lack an incident response plan or ransomware response plan. Even in the wake of a cyberattack, there are still steps you can take to mitigate the damage and prevent future incidents.
A strong incident response plan should include:
- A list of the potential IT risks the organization faces, from natural disasters to network infiltration.
- Procedures for how to issue alerts about potential security incidents and how to establish communication and coordination among incident response team members.
- The steps to take to respond to and recover from a security event, including containing the issue, documenting and preserving evidence, and restoring business operations.
- A schedule for regular security tests, simulations, and audits.
3. Reviewing access controls
Misconfigured access controls are one of the biggest causes of data breaches and cyberattacks. Users with too many privileges can be a major security risk if their accounts are hacked, making it easier for attackers to move undetected throughout the network. Access control issues can also give rise to malicious insider threats who can use their authority to exfiltrate information that shouldn’t be visible to them.
With the fresh start of a new year, you should take the opportunity to review access controls, roles, and privileges across your IT environment. This includes everything from software and endpoints to cloud computing and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The U.S. National Security Agency, for instance, has written that cloud misconfigurations are “the most prevalent cloud vulnerability.”
In particular, ensure that organizational access controls obey the principle of “least privilege,” where users are given the specific roles and resources they need to do their jobs—and no more. Locking down access helps prevent “privilege creep,” an issue where users tend to be granted more and more permissions over time without necessarily needing them.
4. Deploying AI and automation for cybersecurity
Artificial intelligence dominated the headlines in 2022, from the ChatGPT language model that can hold realistic conversations to image generation tools such as Stable Diffusion. Yet behind these flashy advances, there have also been impressive developments in AI for domains like cybersecurity.
According to Acumen Research and Consulting, the demand for AI-enabled cybersecurity solutions is projected to soar from $15 billion in 2021 to $134 billion by 2030. The use cases of artificial intelligence and machine learning for IT security are nearly limitless: everything from antivirus and antimalware software to detecting fraud, analyzing attackers’ behavior, and performing risk and compliance management.
Many cybersecurity solutions now include AI-enhanced features out of the box, making it easier than ever to get started using it. In 2023, investigate how you can best apply AI, and also be aware of how AI can be applied against your organization—for example, by scanning for network weaknesses or crafting better phishing emails.
5. Connecting with the rest of the business
The CISO is a highly technical role, but also a leadership role that requires strong communication and management skills. Cybersecurity is the responsibility of everyone in the organization—and it’s a process, not a destination, which means CISOs shouldn’t make this journey alone.
Instead, take the opportunity in 2023 to ground yourself in the organization and ensure that cybersecurity objectives align with your broader business goals. This includes:
- Speaking with other C-suite executives to understand their issues and priorities, and how these intersect with cybersecurity.
- Understanding the existing technology stack and how this could be updated or enhanced to defend against new security threats.
- Familiarizing yourself with the company’s vendors, partners, and customers, and thinking about how security can be a business driver rather than an obligation or hindrance.
- Cultivating a strong team of information security experts, whether in-house or with the help of a third-party IT security provider.
- Building a culture of cybersecurity throughout the organization, obtaining buy-in from everyone from executives and key stakeholders to managers and employees.
Improve Your Security Posture with Armorblox
Businesses took great strides to improve their security posture in 2022, but there’s still work to do in 2023. So how can your organization go from recognizing the risks to taking action?
That’s exactly where Armorblox comes in. Armorblox is a powerful, enterprise-grade email security solution with a full suite of valuable features and functionality. The Armorblox platform automatically detects and encrypts sensitive information inside email messages and attachments, helping protect everything from payment card numbers to health data. Armorblox also offers advanced malware detection that scans for suspicious URLs and attachments, proactively warning of potential threats that can often bypass legacy email security solutions.
Ready to learn more about how Armorblox can keep your business emails safe? Take our 5-minute product tour to see Armorblox in action.