Use a Roadmap to set a Strategy for Security Improvement

Written by CISOSHARE

June 16, 2020

25 min read

The pressure is on for cyber security teams to build effective security programs that can effectively stay on top of the changing threat landscape while simultaneously meeting business needs. 

The work of an effective security program is never done but keeping up with changing demands and requirements can quickly become overwhelming. 

Establishing a roadmap can provide guidance for an organization seeking to improve their cyber security program but don’t quite know where to start. We’ve put together this article with tips and insight on how to effectively utilize a security program roadmap in your own environment. 

What is a Security Program Roadmap?

A security program roadmap is essentially a strategy for implementing and executing security projects with the goal of reaching an ideal security program state. 

A roadmap establishes a documented plan over the course of several months or several years for the systematic execution of projects that the security team and the organization have prioritized. 

But where does a roadmap draw its projects from? If a security leader sat down with organizational leadership to identify all the capabilities of an ideal security program, the list could end up miles long.  

So, what does an organization need to do to build a useful security program roadmap? 

Steps to Building a Successful Security Program Roadmap 

Assess the Environment 

A successful security program roadmap starts with an assessment. 

The internal security team can conduct an assessment based on cyber security best practice frameworks such ISO and NIST, or an organization can work with a third-party firm for an assessment with an unbiased team. 

A thorough assessment of an organization’s security program establishes an understanding of the program’s current state. Evaluating the environment and the risks related to relevant data assets will serve as a good starting point to identifying any risks that aren’t being addressed by the current security program controls. 

The assessment should evaluate every aspect of the security program, from implemented technology to policies and procedures such as identity and access management, incident response, business continuity, and others. 

Whether your organization conducts a new assessment or utilizes a [centralized risk register] for items that were previously identified, an assessment should ensure that the organization understands any legal, regulatory, or customer-based requirements that the security program must meet and the potential impact that these findings can have on the environment. 

Fine Tune Roadmap Objectives 

Every security program roadmap should align with the organization’s objectives and ideal security program end state.

Goals will vary between organizations, whether they include complying with industry-specific frameworks, meeting certification requirements, or meeting customer requirements. 

Whatever the reasons for making changes to the security program, these objectives should be clearly established before creating your security program roadmap, since they will determine the timing and priority of your security projects. 

This gives organizational stakeholders and decision-makers the opportunity to provide input and make any adjustments to the security program. 

Once organization-wide objectives have been established, the projects included in the roadmap should each work to achieve these goals. 

Engaging with the project management office of the organization or bringing on a dedicated security project manager will help manage the scope, schedule, and budget for each project and the overall roadmap. 

Measure Security Program Progress 

Metrics for success are a critical part of measuring the impact of security program changes on the organizational environment. These metrics should be identified before projects begin and should be mapped to organizational objectives. 

Accurate and relevant metrics will help during the reporting process and will make the impact of the security program clearer when communicating with organizational leadership. 

Consistent measurement will also make it easier to see whether the projects identified in the roadmap are moving the security program in the right direction. 

Proactive, Progress-Based Security Programs 

Take your security program from an ad-hoc approach and use a roadmap to establish a clear path toward achieving an efficient and operational cyber security program. 

Whether your organization’s internal security team generates the roadmap or works with a service provider to assess and implement these security projects, a roadmap generates an actionable plan for the changes that need to be carried out in your environment. 

Take a step toward efficient and proactive security practices with a well-designed roadmap.

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