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What should a cybersecurity roadmap contain? NetAlly’s top tips!

Cybersecurity roadmaps are essential for protecting an organization’s assets and strengthening its resilience against attacks. It is a strategy plan that provides a timeline for implementing actions and initiatives that address vulnerabilities and prepare for possible threats.

This blog shares our top six tips for creating a comprehensive and effective cybersecurity roadmap.

Tip 1:  Mitigating excessive cybersecurity risk begins with a maturity assessment

Cybersecurity roadmaps start with assessing the organization’s maturity level and risk exposure. Depending on the complexity of the IT infrastructure and regulatory requirements, this assessment is done internally or by an independent third-party cybersecurity auditing company. Self-assessment tools can help facilitate internal cybersecurity assessments [1].

The maturity assessment findings are evaluated against the organization’s acceptable risk levels. Any item with an unacceptable level of risk should have associated initiatives or actions to remedy the situation.

Since the maturity assessment provides an overview of the organization’s cybersecurity effectiveness, the initiatives are typically strategic. For example:

  • Increase technology investments in behavioral analysis to improve the detection of security breaches and insider threats.
  • Training and awareness programs for staff and partners that cover the latest social engineering and phishing attacks.

These remedial initiatives should be highlighted and included in the cybersecurity roadmap. 

Tip 2: Mind your cybersecurity gaps with ongoing gap analysis

A gap assessment or analysis is a schematic comparison of the organization’s current cybersecurity posture with the desired posture. Cybersecurity posture includes asset management, access control, incident reporting, network security, data protection, and compliance considerations.

Gap assessments pinpoint specific areas where an organization is failing to meet its cybersecurity goals. A subsequent remediation plan describes the actions required to close the identified gaps. These actions are typically tactical. For example:

  • Policy and procedural updates to extend data protection and disaster recovery plans to encompass the home office.
  • Technical security control enhancements incorporate biometrics for improved access control.

These remedial actions should be highlighted and included in the cybersecurity roadmap.

Tip 3: Cybersecurity roadmaps must maintain alignment with dynamic business goals and strategies

The cybersecurity roadmap must be aligned with the organization’s business goals and operational strategies. Businesses are not static and are constantly evolving. The cybersecurity roadmap must anticipate the security implications of these changes and incorporate appropriate solutions.

Business needs are specific to each organization and its industry. However, most organizations are embracing transformative changes in their IT infrastructure, including:

  • Big data and analytics. Collecting and analyzing massive amounts of data increases the impact of a data breach and the risk of sensitive and personal data being compromised.
  • Hybrid-cloud. Organizations continue to transition workloads and data to public clouds, with many utilizing multiple public clouds. Implementing a unified security policy across multiple platforms is challenging and increases the risk of exploitable security gaps.
  • Sustainable initiatives. Smart IoT technologies and Energy Management Systems (EMS) need protection from cybersecurity attacks. In particular, IoT devices increase the entry points for hackers to infiltrate IT systems.
  • Convergence of OT and IT. Integrating the OT process control systems with IT systems increases the potential for attacks. It exposes the OT systems that were historically isolated, and it increases the entry points into the IT infrastructure.
  • Automation and robotics. These technologies introduce unique security challenges. Automated responses can result in errors and attacks rapidly propagating through the system and understanding Machine Learning (ML) vulnerabilities requires specialized training.

Examples of security responses to these changing business needs include network infrastructure investments to improve network segmentation, deploying Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) systems, and conducting more vulnerability and penetration tests.

Recognizing the organization’s changing business needs and incorporating the pertinent security response in your cybersecurity roadmap is paramount.

Tip 4: Get in front of future cybersecurity threats by embracing emerging technologies

Cybersecurity roadmaps should encompass both upgrades to the current security systems and the integration of advanced cybersecurity technologies. Upgrades are vital as they often include new and enhanced features that address current threats and vulnerabilities.  Technological advancements provide the tools and capabilities to mitigate evolving cybersecurity threats.

Current trends in cybersecurity include:

  • Remote and hybrid work models. Expand beyond VPN for secure connections to Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) for secure access to resources and Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) for detecting vulnerabilities in remote devices.
  • Unified security systems. Integrates dissimilar security platforms, tools, and processes to provide a single view for managing security posture and applying policies across the entire IT infrastructure.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI).  Today, AI analyzes data patterns to improve threat detection, conduct behavioral analysis, and predict attacks. In the future, AI is expected to be adaptive and proactive in protecting against threats.
  • Quantum-resistant cryptography. It is defining cryptographic algorithms that protect against potential quantum computer attacks. 

Technological advances should be integrated into the cybersecurity roadmap to improve the organization’s security posture and protect against emerging cyber threats.

Tip 5: The rights tools are crucial to achieve policy compliance

Cybersecurity roadmaps must incorporate the tools necessary to adhere to the organization’s security policies, procedures, and best practices.  These tools equip the organization to address evolving cybersecurity threats proactively.

Examples of pivotal policies and procedures that necessitate essential tools include:

  • Risk assessments. Tools for evaluating potential risks to an organization’s assets include Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC) platforms, threat intelligent data feeds, and vulnerability scanners.
  • Security audits. Tools for evaluating compliance with security regulations and best practices include log monitors, network analyzers, penetration testers, and vulnerability scanners.
  • Vulnerability assessments. Tools for identifying weaknesses include asset inventory loggers and application, network, and vulnerability scanners.
  • Penetration testing. Tools for simulating a cyber-attack include network scanners, vulnerability scanners, protocol analyzers, and password crackers.

Ensuring tools are on the cybersecurity roadmap is essential for the organization to identify critical vulnerabilities, accurately assess security risks, meet stringent regulatory and compliance requirements, and proactively defend against increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks.

Tip 6: Cybersecurity roadmaps—it’s all in the (implementation) timing

Cybersecurity roadmaps are long-term plans, with some initiatives requiring significant investments in technology, resources, and time. Defining the timeline provides a schematic approach for continually improving the organization’s security posture over an extended period. The critical steps for creating a timeline are:

  1. Define measurable goals for each identified initiative. For example, improve incident response time by 30% or conduct monthly vulnerability assessments.
  2. Identify dependencies between proposed cybersecurity initiatives and if one must precede the other.
  3. Prioritize the proposed cybersecurity improvements based on agreed criteria, such as urgency, impact, required resources, complexity, and regulatory compliance.
  4. Create a realistic timeline that shows key deliverables, measurable milestones, and responsible parties.

Incorporating a timeline in a cybersecurity roadmap is essential for managing its implementation. However, timelines are not static. For the cybersecurity roadmap to remain relevant, the timeline should be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect changing priorities and emerging threats.

What to do after reading this blog

Cybersecurity roadmaps must address the current security weaknesses and add the capabilities and flexibility to respond to future threats. Creating this roadmap is a meticulous and time-consuming process. It requires knowledge of existing security systems, weaknesses, and potential solutions. Additionally, it entails staying abreast of the latest cybersecurity threats and technological advancements.

  • Decide whether you would like to drive or participate in creating a cybersecurity roadmap for your organization.
  • Determine how to improve your knowledge of your organization’s security systems and their weaknesses.
  • Create a plan to increase your knowledge of emerging technological advancements and their impact on cybersecurity.

[1]NIST 2.0 CSF tool

Author Bio –
Wireless & Cyber Security Expert

Dr. Avril Salter is an author and acclaimed public speaker with over 20 years of in-depth technical and executive experience working in wireless and network security. She holds senior business and technical architect positions with a history of success in setting direction in major corporations and start-ups. She has an exceptional breadth of technical expertise in wireless standards and network security protocols and is a strategic thinker with a solid understanding of the IT and telecommunications industries.