You’d be hard-pressed to find a business that hasn’t acknowledged or prepared for at least some fraction of the ever-growing cybersecurity threats facing businesses in 2020. And with global cybersecurity spending expected to reach $133.7 billion by 2022, according to Gartner, it’s safe to say most organizations are investing in necessary skills and technology, too.

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But, despite the time and budget business leaders may invest in staving off attacks, not all businesses have achieved the same level of preparedness. To ensure your program is effective, you must always be focused on evolving and improving.

Just as every map begins with a destination, you can’t move forward until you identify where you stand today.

Understanding your cybersecurity maturity is the key to understanding your current circumstances, boosting your protection, and reducing your risk.

Here’s what you need to know:

What is Cybersecurity Maturity?

Cybersecurity maturity is a measure of your company’s security sophistication, and how well you’re prepared to protect your business from threats and vulnerabilities.

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A cybersecurity maturity model is one way to assess where your organization stands and illuminate the path forward. This framework identifies the different efforts taken at each level, so businesses know the specific actions they need to take to move upward.

Most businesses use one of two models:

    • Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model (C2M2)
      Developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, this model was initially designed for power companies but has been adopted by organizations of all industries. C2M2 focuses on strengthening cybersecurity capabilities, knowledge-sharing, and consistent benchmarking and evaluation. It consists of ten domains, and each domain has its own measurement to help identify weaknesses and strengths. (Learn more about the C2M2 here.)
    • National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF)
      The NIST doesn’t consider the CSF framework a maturity model, but it does include a progression of “tiers,” illustrating advancement across five tiers (identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover). It’s designed to help organizations assess risks and continuously improve the way they protect their critical infrastructure systems. It’s been adopted across the public and private sectors. (Learn more about the NIST CSF here.)

Keep in mind, you can also use these and other frameworks to inform your own cybersecurity maturity model. For example, cybersecurity and compliance company Cypher developed its own five-step maturity model:

  1. Initial
    Your organization is high-risk. Your response to cyber threats is limited response is unpredictable and inconsistent.
  2. Repeatable
    Your organization has a response, but it’s mostly reactive, volatile, and entirely manual.
  3. Defined
    Your organization’s response is well-documented, standardized, and reviewable.
  4. Managed
    Your organization’s cybersecurity has become proactive, trackable based on concrete metrics, and includes some automation.
  5. Optimized
    Your organization’s cybersecurity efforts are automated, integrated, and predictable.

Keep in mind that even once you’ve reached level five and fully optimized your cybersecurity efforts, your work isn’t complete. To be truly effective, you must continue identifying opportunities to improve. After all, new threats arise every day.

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How Can I Level Up My Cybersecurity?

Deploying a cybersecurity maturity model can be challenging, but it’s also the best way to ensure your business is doing everything in its power to mitigate its risks. After all, a single cybersecurity event can cause severe (and sometimes irreparable) damage to an organization, costing you significant amounts of money — as well as your reputation.

So how can you get started?

    • Select a cybersecurity maturity leader.
      This person (typically a CIO, CISO, CTO, or head of IT) will be responsible for forging the path forward and should receive full support from the entire organization — from the board and c-suite to every employee.
    • Choose a model.
      Take time to research available models and select the one that makes the most sense for your organization, or customize your own.
    • Develop a rubric for measurement.
      Identify how you’ll measure performance and determine success. (Both the C2M2 and NIST CSF provide recommendations on measuring your cybersecurity sophistication and improvements.)
    • Invest in the right tools and technologies.
      The only way to reach the highest level of cybersecurity maturity is to adopt automation and implement solutions designed to equip your company with the insights and knowledge it needs. Security threat monitoring, for example, can help you identify whether your information has been compromised so you can prevent account takeovers, infected endpoints, and compromised devices.

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Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely guarantee your company won’t become a victim of a cyber attack. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it a lot harder for cybercriminals to infiltrate your company and its valuable data assets. By leveling up your cybersecurity maturity with tools like Actionable Threat Intelligence, you can stay a step ahead of hackers.


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