How to build a cybersecurity strategy
If you asked anyone in tech, “Should security be a priority?” you would get a resounding “yes” every time. If you asked our fintech consultants the same question, you’d get the same answer, but louder. But if we all understand the importance of security, why do a slew of high-profile breaches pepper the headlines every single year?
The short answer? Failure to prioritize.
For established companies, inertia is the root problem, and failure to adhere to best practices and neglect of routine maintenance contribute more to data breaches than any attack vector. For newer startups, security is often relegated to the back burner until the operation has grown its runway to afford security personnel. Security, they reason, is only relevant once they’ve scaled to a certain point, when the reality is attackers can target them right out of the gate.
That sloppiness has consequences. Companies at every stage of growth need to factor risk into their budgets given that ransomware and other security breaches cost corporations and governments trillions of dollars annually. A breach at an early-stage startup can kill a business, as well as the careers of the people overseeing it. And not without reason: Stolen data violates the privacy and security a company has assured its users. To top it off? In addition to the devastating blow to a (surviving) company’s reputation, the financial liability carries the additional risk of FTC fines.
But the right security solution isn’t something that can be done at the drop of a white hat. Every company is different when it comes to cybersecurity risks, with different types of data, different firewall configurations, user account security, and encryption strategies. No single security solution can protect against all of those variables, which makes cybersecurity services an invaluable asset.
Most operations can’t afford their own suite of in-house cybersec defenses and personnel, but development service providers can enhance a product with DevSecOps at any step of the application lifecycle, literally building security into their products and the DevOps that build them. When a company combines this strategy with security auditing services, the end result is a massive boost in the effectiveness of their cybersec footing — a benefit that outweighs the cost by any calculation.
Basic cybersecurity components
Cybersecurity is its own incredibly complicated world, and in order to navigate it — or start to figure out what you need — it helps to know what security components are baked into the software itself.
- Cloud security monitoring is the continuous inspection and review of critical cloud functions. With more than 90 percent of companies using cloud solutions via cloud computing, data storage that generates actionable intel and gathering security insights for cloud environments is mission-critical. Cloud monitoring services like AWS Security Hub or Google Security Command Center constantly review a company’s security channels, assign priorities based on relevance, and then assist in investigating occurrences for potential discoveries in your security infrastructure. Think of this component as the one that identifies the smoke, but not the fire.
- Observability tools allow the identification of suspicious and anomalous data that is registered by monitoring tools. An emerging challenge of security monitoring is requiring a number of different services to achieve comprehensive surveillance. This is where Security Event and Information Management systems (SIEMs) come into play. SIEMs integrate a true DevSecOps solution by deploying continuously-updated correlation rules that analyze monitoring data to identify threats, triage notifications and alerts to stakeholders, and contextualize attacks even as they happen. If monitoring is smoke, observability is the way you follow it to find the fire.
- Compliance tracking is the process of continually reviewing metrics to ensure that all relevant operations adhere to any required regulations. For industries like healthcare and finance, in which large volumes of highly-sensitive data are stored and transferred regularly, guaranteeing compliance with all regulations and statutes is vital to ensuring the safety of user data and the stability of a business. Configuration analytics provide the consistent, recurring analysis and instant notification needed to adapt and adjust swiftly, while ensuring cost-effective, uninterrupted compliance with regulatory codes like HIPAA, FedRAMP, GDPR, ISO 27001, SOC 2, and PCI DSS.
- Network security is an overlapping array of defenses designed to preserve the integrity of a network through data. This is done with traffic monitoring internally and the prevention of unauthorized access externally. This includes verification to ensure only authorized users have access and encryption software to prevent data from being accessible until it has reached its intended destination. A core method of increasing network security is called network segmentation, in which different endpoints of a network are given differing levels of access based on that endpoint's necessity and level of security, allowing for faster and more effective incident response in the event of a breach.
Application security testing
When so much of the work of modern companies is coordinated and executed over apps, and because billions of customers trust consumer applications with their data, security is as much a necessity to application success as functionality.
Moreover, often applications are utilized over multiple networks and just as commonly are connected to the cloud. More points of connection mean higher chances of a security gap, as each connection itself represents a web of potential weak spots. That’s why securing applications themselves is every bit as important to a tech company as network security — and why testing in-app features to identify, prevent, and eliminate vulnerabilities is key to any successful cyber security strategy.
Apps require different amounts of testing specific to their architecture, but generally, every process consists of vulnerability scanning, dynamic and static application testing, security scanning, third-party dependencies check, and penetration testing.
As a core component of a strong cybersecurity strategy, security auditing tests whether an information system is adhering to pre-set internal and external criteria required to ensure data security and compliance.
Typical internal criteria usually consist of an organization's IT security policies and processes and system controls, e.g., how well stakeholders adhere to current incident response protocols. External criteria tend to be more specific to the individual industry in which an organization operates. For example, a healthtech company handling private patient information has to observe federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations (HIPAA).
Security audits examine daily IT operations and compare them with the security metrics necessary to ensure current and effective cybersecurity. If an area fails to meet that standard, it’s identified as a vulnerability to be remedied or replaced altogether.
The importance of certification
If you’re looking for a partner to enhance or audit your cybersecurity, standards set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) are a good indicator of a prospective partner’s qualifications; a partner should have certification of its technical and operational competencies.
Specific certifications to look for include:
While there’s no such thing as an invincible system (and be wary of anyone telling you otherwise), a comprehensive and routinely-tested security system will get you as close as possible.
Saving money is always an important consideration, but cutting costs at the expense of security can be far more expensive for every operation from a small business to international enterprise corporations. When it comes to ensuring the security of mission-critical systems as well as your own and your clients’ data, there’s no better investment than a strong cybersecurity defense.