A CISO’s guide to building a Strategic Information Security Program
March 15, 2023
CISO experts Elizabeth Volini, Russell Eubanks, and Brian Johnson joined Blue Lava co-founder and president Laz to highlight the challenges of building a comprehensive security program. Their discussion emphasized the potential power of collaboration between like-minded leaders and teams within an organization.
This article will explore the important stages and considerations when you are developing a successful security program management (SPM) strategy. Specifically, the panel explores topics such as:
- Effective strategies for managing security programs in 2023
- Ways to optimize relationships with internal and external stakeholders
- Techniques for planning, implementing, managing, and measuring a security program
- Communicating the status and value of your security program
Setting the Stage for an Effective Security Program
Align security program with business goals
When creating a security program, it’s important to think beyond individual security measures and consider how your program aligns with the organization’s strategic business goals. This requires a broader view of the organization’s operations, risk management, and business objectives.
With her expertise in program management, Elizabeth brings a focus on making security priorities actionable and transparent so that the execution team and leadership are aligned. However, you can’t distinguish these priorities until you clearly understand all aspects of daily business operations and have a solid grasp of organizational priorities.
Build relationships and trust
Russell notes that you need to be intentional about setting up your program. It’s not enough to charge in and start identifying KPIs. You must be able to speak the language of the stakeholders, using terms and concepts that are relevant to them. By empathizing with the stakeholders’ needs and concerns, you can build strong relationships with them and establish trust. As the CISO, you’re effectively a salesperson for the security program.
One of the key aspects of building a successful security program is being able to communicate with stakeholders about the program’s importance, the risks it mitigates, and how it adds value to the organization. By aligning the security program with their business goals, stakeholders can see the bigger picture and understand how security measures impact the organization’s overall success.
Brian emphasizes the importance of getting wisdom as cheaply as possible by listening first. You need to concentrate on deeply understanding business objectives and procedures to determine how to add value.
Implementing Security Program Management
Once you have solid relationships and your stakeholders trust that you understand their perspective and their priorities, you can start creating a scalable security strategy. The first step is assessing your program. You have to take stock of what you have, and what you don’t have so you can implement an action plan, addressing your biggest risks and setting actionable priorities.
Measuring your program — both when you start building it and as you grow — allows you to:
Identify strengths and weaknesses
Measuring your security program can help you identify areas of strength and weakness. By identifying areas where your security program is strong, you can reinforce those areas, and by identifying areas of weakness, you can take corrective actions to improve your security program.
Prioritize investment and resource allocation
You can’t focus on every goal at once. You need to identify priorities and set transparent action steps. Measuring your security program can help you prioritize investment and resource allocation.
By understanding which areas of your security program need the most attention, you can effectively allocate your resources and investments to improve your overall security posture.
Meet regulatory and compliance requirements
Measuring your security program is often required to comply with regulatory and industry standards. By measuring your security program, you can demonstrate compliance with these requirements and avoid potential penalties for non-compliance.
Provide visibility to stakeholders
Measuring your security program can provide visibility to stakeholders, such as executives, board members, and customers, based on the effectiveness of your security program. This visibility can help build trust in your organization’s security posture, which can positively impact your reputation, both internally and externally.
Blue Lava’s SPM platform allows you to more comprehensively assess your security program by mapping your assessment to your organizational structure. Stakeholders at all levels can help you and others obtain quick insights into where you are and where you’re going.
The intuitive user interface lets everyone take what they need from the platform. One facet may be most important for board members, while executives are more concerned with other aspects. Your department will be most concerned with maturing your program based on industry benchmarks.
Blue Lava allows you to meet everyone where they are at and provide information in the manner that best reflects their position and concerns.
Optimize your security program
Measuring your security program can help you continually improve your security program. By establishing a baseline for your security program’s effectiveness and measuring your progress over time, you can identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions to enhance your security program.
Why take this approach?
Blue Lava’s SPM platform takes a holistic approach to building a repeatable, scalable security program. It allows you to effectively communicate the value of your program from a business perspective, not just a security perspective.
Risk, impact, and business objectives need to be understood
To effectively manage security, it is important to understand the risks your organization faces, the potential impact of those risks, and how they align with business objectives. Blue Lava’s SPM platform provides a framework for understanding and managing these risks, ensuring that you can make informed decisions about how to address gaps in your security program by providing detailed, actionable findings in a fraction of the time it would take other frameworks.
Security is a team sport
With the increasing complexity of technology and the evolving threat landscape, security can no longer be the responsibility of a single person or team. Blue Lava emphasizes the importance of collaboration and communication across the organization, involving stakeholders from various departments, such as legal, finance, IT, and marketing, to ensure that security is integrated into every aspect of the business. Engaging, data-driven reports make interdepartmental communication simple and efficient.
Context switching is necessary
Blue Lava helps organizations manage a fast-paced business environment. By providing a structured approach to security program measurement, optimization, and communication, Blue Lava ensures that security is incorporated into all aspects of the business, from sales to project management, while also allowing security teams to respond to emerging security events or issues in a variety of departments quickly.
Being a good steward of your time increases your value as CISO
With limited resources and time, you need to ensure you’re maximizing the value they deliver to the business. Blue Lava’s comprehensive platform helps prioritize security initiatives based on risk, impact, and business objectives.
Additionally, because Blue Lava provides such transparent and intuitive reporting features, you can communicate with board members, executives, and other departments more quickly, eliminating the need for lengthy, jargon-filled speeches explaining the status of your security program.
Fiduciary responsibility is a top priority
Ultimately, fiduciary responsibility rests at the board level. As cybersecurity threats become more complex and pervasive, the board is responsible for ensuring that your company is taking the necessary steps to protect its assets, including customer data, intellectual property, and financial information.
Blue Lava’s platform gives the board the information it needs to make strategic decisions about cybersecurity investments and initiatives, which is one of your program’s most valuable functions.
Next steps for CISOs at any level
To hear more from our panel of experts and listen to them answer questions and address issues for new and experienced CISOs at all levels, listen to the webinar, “Building a Repeatable and Scalable Security Strategy”. Elizabeth, Russell, and Brian bring decades of experience building repeatable and scalable security strategies to this discussion and talk about some of their favorite recent resources for professional development. Interested in joining the Blue Lava Community? Here you’ll find your safe haven and a host of great resources where you can gather, share, support, and mentor with trusted peers all over the country.