Each year, cyberattacks are increasing in number and becoming more sophisticated. In the past 12 months alone, 54% of organizations have experienced a cyberattack (SecureLink). Because of this, having an effective cybersecurity strategy is no longer optional – it’s essential.
However, safeguarding your organization requires a comprehensive strategy, which can prove difficult to map out without a dedicated security team on staff. This is where the 5 P’s Cybersecurity Framework comes into play – a simple, yet powerful framework that helps guide organizations through the most critical areas of cybersecurity.
In this article, we’ll break down the 5 areas of focus included in Blackink IT’s cybersecurity framework. The areas of focus – Plan, Protect, Prove, Promote, and Partner – each include their own set of security measures and critical controls that organizations can implement. By utilizing the 5 P's Cybersecurity Framework, you can ensure that your organization is well-prepared to protect itself from cyber threats.
The “Plan” phase is the most foundational, as it lays the groundwork for a resilient cybersecurity strategy. And planning doesn’t just mean creating a plan for protecting your organization from security threats – it also means planning for how you’ll respond in the event of cyberattacks. This is important because when it comes to security, cyber threats are not a matter of “if,” but “when.”
Remember preparing for fires and tornadoes with regular drills when you were in grade school? These taught you how to respond in the event of an emergency, and were essential to your safety. Preparing for security incidents is similar; organizations must plan for incidents in order to mitigate risks and reduce downtime.
At Blackink IT, we like to reference the phrase “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Here are some ways your organization can plan your cybersecurity.
An incident response plan (IRP) is a document that outlines the steps your company would take to respond to a security incident. Having an IRP is essential, as it’s your roadmap for how to approach these incredibly stressful situations. The goal of an incident response plan is to minimize the impact of incidents by identifying, responding to, and eliminating them as quickly as possible. IRPs allow for timely responses to incidents, which is crucial for businesses to make sufficient recoveries. However, it’s not enough to simply have an IRP in place – these plans must be tested to ensure that there aren’t any gaps. Incident response tabletop exercises can work to improve your plan while helping to achieve compliance and prepare your team.
Conducting a risk assessment is an important step in the planning stage of the framework, as these assessments identify which systems, data, and/or applications are critical to your organization. Once your most critical assets are identified, it becomes easier to prioritize the security measures that should be implemented. Protecting your organization doesn’t happen overnight, which is why it’s important to know which assets would hurt your organization the most if they were lost – both permanently and temporarily. Once these assets have been identified, you’ll have a clearer picture of the steps you should take in your security journey.
Prioritization is critical, and security frameworks like CIS Controls and NIST provide a structured approach to assess and prioritize security based on the potential impact of threats. By comparing your risk assessment against a framework like CIS Controls or NIST, you’ll be able to determine which specific security actions should be taken.
Cyberattacks can be devastating to your operations, reputation, and bottom line – which is why putting safeguards in place to protect your company is important. The “Protect” stage focuses on implementing security measures that shield your organization from a wide range of threats. The focus here is on proactive measures that help prevent cyberattacks and minimize vulnerabilities. Here are specific actions organizations can take:
Although creating strong passwords is important, passwords alone are no longer enough. Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide two or more forms of verification before granting access to accounts – so even if someone manages to obtain your password, your accounts will still be protected. This extra layer of security is highly effective in preventing unauthorized access, as Microsoft reports that multi-factor authentication can prevent 99.9% of attacks on accounts. MFA should cover remote access, admin accounts, email accounts, and more.
Most people are familiar with anti-virus software, but not everyone has heard of endpoint detection and response. EDRs are a more advanced and comprehensive technology than your traditional anti-virus. Network endpoint devices like laptops, servers, and mobile devices are common entry points for cyberattacks, and EDR tools protect these endpoints from threats by monitoring, detecting, and responding to threats in real time – helping organizations to prevent or minimize attacks on their network and data.
The default security settings that can be found on hardware and software are often insufficient. By going beyond the defaults and configuring settings to meet your unique security needs, you can harden your organizations systems and tools to improve cybersecurity. A common example of software that goes “untouched” beyond default settings is productivity suites, such as Microsoft 365. Microsoft provides a “Secure Score” within their admin settings, which can give you a baseline for how secure your environment is. By going beyond the default settings and configuring them in a way that maximizes security, Blackink IT sees organizations significantly increase their Secure Scores and improve their security posture.
Once you’ve created a cybersecurity plan and have implemented protections, it’s important to prove that your cybersecurity strategies are working. The “Prove” phase revolves around substantiating your security measures and demonstrating effectiveness – not only for your own peace of mind, but also for the sake of compliance, audits, cyber insurance renewal, and more.
Having a backup plan in place to protect your data is important, but can your organization prove that your backups are working? By frequently testing your backups, you can ensure that your data can be successfully recovered in case of an emergency – additionally, tests will help you estimate the time required to restore your backups, helping you calculate costs associated with data loss and downtime. Testing also helps you identify any potential shortcomings or discrepancies in your backup and recovery process, allowing you to correct any issues before an emergency arises.
Knowing what’s happening on your network, as well as keeping records, is an important piece of protecting your organization. Network monitoring is the use of tools and methods to monitor the activity and traffic of an organization’s network, while logging is the process of recording and storing network information. This can include activity, user actions, performance, and more. Both actions are important to your cybersecurity, as they can help you detect and respond to security threats. By keeping tabs on what’s happening on your network, you’ll be able to identify suspicious and malicious activity, keeping your organization more secure.
Vulnerability scans are security assessments that identify potential vulnerabilities within a network, such as unpatched software or open ports. Vulnerability scans should be run periodically to identify and address security threats as they arise.
Many times, many of an organization’s vulnerabilities are due to unpatched software, or software that hasn’t been updated to the latest version. As convenient as the “remind me later” button may seem, updates should not be continually pushed off. They play a key role in minimizing vulnerabilities, as software vendors release patches to address flaws or bugs that attackers may exploit. Companies can stay on top of updates by implementing a patch management strategy – a strategy that can serve as a roadmap for implementing updates regularly and effectively.
Cybersecurity isn’t just about technology and strategy; it’s about people, too. For organizations, it’s important to foster a positive cybersecurity culture. Ensuring that every employee understands their role in protecting their company’s critical assets and empowering them to act if they see something suspicious is just as essential as any security measure you could implement. A culture of cybersecurity awareness can create a collective defense mechanism within the organization, allowing employees to recognize, report, and respond to threats. Here are ways organizations can create a cybersecurity-centric culture:
According to KnowBe4, 88% of data breaches are caused by human error. However, with proper education, your employees can become a strong line of defense. Cybersecurity awareness training is essential in a world where phishing, pretexting, and other forms of social engineering are incredibly prevalent. Training platforms like KnowBe4 do a great job of creating content that helps employees learn how to protect their organizations and put their learnings into practice.
Cybersecurity isn't confined to your organization’s walls; it extends to third-party vendors, as well. To ensure that your organization's security standards are maintained throughout the supply chain, evaluate the cybersecurity practices of your partners and vendors. Since it’s not uncommon for vendors to have access to your organization’s data when delivering products or services, this is an important step in your cybersecurity plan. It’s important to keep in mind who you’re sharing your data with, and equally important to ask how they plan to protect the data you’ve provided.
Once you’ve adopted your cybersecurity framework (CIS Controls, NIST, etc.) it’s important to promote its use and make sure your employees are aware of its impact within your organization. Adopting the framework doesn’t stop at reviewing it and implementing some of the measures – making sure that your employees are familiar with the framework and the actions your organization is taking to improve its security posture is important, as well.
The “Partner” focus area recognizes that cybersecurity is not a solo endeavor. A robust cybersecurity posture is built on more than just internal efforts; it also relies on the right partnerships and resources. By selecting the right allies, you can improve your defenses and ensure you’re prepared for incidents when they arise.
Cyber incidents can lead to substantial financial loss and reputational damage, which is why cyber insurance is becoming increasingly mandatory, regardless of industry or company size. Partnering with a reputable cyber insurance provider can provide you peace of mind that, in the event of a security incident, you’ll be financially secure.
Navigating the complex legal landscape following a security breach can be challenging. A cyber attorney specializes in this area and can help your organization make informed decisions in the aftermath of a breach. When incidents arise, your cyber attorney will be one of your very first calls, so being prepared and having an established relationship before an incident occurs is important.
Partnering with cybersecurity experts, such as a managed security services provider (MSSP), can help you navigate the complexities of all that’s been covered within this article. Whether you need help implementing a security framework, creating basic security policies, building an incident response plan, or you simply don’t know where to start, a cybersecurity provider will be your go-to resource. They can provide guidance, offer proactive solutions, implement security measures, and help enhance your security posture.
The 5 P's Cybersecurity Framework offers a holistic approach to cybersecurity, covering planning, protection, validation, awareness, and collaboration. By focusing on each of these five areas and implementing the recommended security measures and best practices, your organization can significantly enhance its cybersecurity posture.
Interested in learning more about the 5 P’s, or need helping implementing any of the security measures detailed above? Reach out to the cybersecurity experts at Blackink IT – we’re passionate about partnering with organizations to maximize their security, and would love to build a custom cybersecurity plan that keeps you both safe and productive!