Take a Holistic Approach to Reviewing Security Strategy

By on Aug 23, 2018

The first step in building a culture of security in an organization is embedding it into your vision and values. Creating a foundational commitment to security among all employees establishes a strong first line of defense. With that in place, the next step is reviewing each area of the business to ensure you’re walking the talk when it comes to thinking security-first. Knowing where to start can be overwhelming. But using this simple framework will guide you through the critical elements.

Begin with a holistic review of your security strategy

In today’s digital world, businesses are more interconnected and fast-moving than ever. It’s important to take a wide perspective and review all angles of security across governance, people, process, and technology.

  • Governance: Depending on many factors – including company size, industry, geography, ownership structure, and more – the level of data governance at a company can vary greatly. It’s worth evaluating what you have in place and considering adding new structures for data protection for the long term.
  • People: This is an organization’s greatest vulnerability, but also its strongest line of defense. Review your education and training for cybersecurity best practices across all levels and departments, from your most junior staff up to executives, and make sure your people are part of the solution.
  • Processes: This should extend beyond just security-specific processes to broader business-level processes. Review data collection, flows, processing, storage, and handling to understand the scope of securing that data. But also evaluate processes for product design and development, new hire onboarding, and other departmental workflows to identify areas to add new security measures.
  • Technology: This is the backbone of your digital organization, so ensuring your technology is secure is table stakes. It’s important to also assess how the systems are actually used by staff and consider changes if people tend to bypass standard procedures to avoid any inconvenient steps required.

Measure outcomes to gauge effectiveness

While gaining clear visibility into actual security strategies in effect across the organization provides understanding of scope, it’s only the first step. As you craft a plan to strengthen your security and implement changes, measuring the impact is critical to evaluating effectiveness. Start by establishing a baseline metric for each change in your plan, whether it is designing new procedures for data protection, rolling out an updated staff training, adjusting steps in product design to consider security, or replacing a technology system.

As updates are implemented, build a cadence of evaluations into regular workflows. For example, include measurement of outcomes in quarterly review or planning cycles. Check progress against the original baseline, including quantitative measurements when possible as well as qualitative feedback from team members to validate. Use that data to course correct and continuously improve implementation of your strategies.

Throughout each stage of this holistic review process and implementation of changes, continually think about how various roles on each team are affected by implementation of changes. Understanding impact and communicating each person’s responsibility to security on a personal level is key to developing a sustainable culture of security.

Steps for Conducting a Holistic Review of Security Strategy

Thinking about the scope and effectiveness of security measures across every area of the business can be overwhelming. Breaking it down into defined segments helps get started. Use this framework to guide your review.

Download one-pager

About the Author


We're here to make life online safe and enjoyable for everyone.

Read more posts from McAfee

Subscribe to McAfee Securing Tomorrow Blogs