What is a Security Program?
A cyber security program is a documented set of your organization's information security policies, procedures, guidelines, and standards.
Your security program should provide a roadmap for effective security management practices and controls. Having a strong security program helps your organization ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your client and customer information, as well as the organization's private data through effective security management practices and controls.
Security Program Purpose
A formalized security program provides a documented set of your organization's cyber security policies, procedures, guidelines, and standards. Security programs are critical to proactively protecting data while maintaining compliance with best practice and regulatory requirements, as well as customer standards.
Today, the risk and frequency of incidents and breaches is higher than ever before. Breaches affect large numbers of financial organizations, healthcare organizations, public-sector entities, as well as organizations in any industry. Effectively maintained and adaptable security programs both mitigate potential risks in an organization’s environment and can respond to incidents quickly.
Protecting Data with a Security Program
Whether or not you deal with sensitive data with specific restrictions such as financial or healthcare information, your organization could be targeted by an attack.
Your own financial records, critical information, or other confidential organizational data could be an attractive target for attackers as information they can sell or otherwise manipulate to make a profit. Regardless of your organization's size or the type of data that you handle, a security program’s responsibility is to mitigate the risk of having it lost, altered, or stolen.
An information security program will establish the policies and processes that you'll use to protect your information.
Common program areas such as incident management plan, enterprise security architecture, and threat and vulnerability management help organizations understand where data lives in the environment as well as what processes and technology solutions are in place to protect it.
Conducting a thorough security program assessment will help you identify additional program areas that will help your organization mitigate potential risks.
Make security program development and improvement simple.
The Foundation of a Healthy Information Security Program
A well-built information security program will have multiple components and sub-programs to ensure that your organization's security efforts align to your business objectives. These four characteristics of an effective security program should make up the foundation of your security program development efforts:
- Establish a benchmark for security. Security should be defined in your environment through your security policies, standards, program, and process documentation. Your benchmark is the current state of your information security program at a given time, which will be what you measure against in the future.
- Measure against the benchmark. As your organization conducts future assessments, these should be compared against the initial benchmark to understand what effect any security projects ad changes have had.
- Enable informed decision-making. A security program should have a communication system in place to provide information to key stakeholders and other members of organizational management. The security program should show the results of any measurement activities and other information necessary to make informed decisions about changes to the security program.
- Support decision execution. Once organizational leadership has decided on approving a security project or strategy, the security team should support the execution of them. Begin the approved projects and initiatives and regularly track their progress and results.
Building a strong foundation is a key component of CISOSHARE’s approach to security program development.
Key Cyber Security Program Components
The individual components and sub-programs of your information security program will vary based on your organization's objectives and regulatory requirements. As you undertake your security program development efforts, there are certain components and documentation that your security program should include such as your framework, charter, policies, processes, and a way to measure these.
Each security program component and its corresponding documentation should be applied to specific domains. Different domains include information security governance, risk management, compliance, incident management, and other sub-programs that your organization identifies as a priority. Your information security program should be tailored to your specific organization.
Your framework acts as the foundation for your organization. Often derived from best practices, regulatory requirements, and industry-specific certifications, your framework should be customized to meet your organization's goals and needs.
Your charter is a document approved by the organization that defines how your security program will work in the context of the overall organization, with things such as scope, mission, mandate, and other things.
These define how your organization will address security issues. Policies are derived from your requirements and establish the standards and guidelines for your program.
Your processes are the procedures that ensure your security program is both repeatable and efficient. This document will help you identify the business rules, roles and responsibilities, and tools your organization will use to perform security activities.
This is one of the most important security program components. Measuring and assessing how your security program is performing in your environment will help you determine what improvements need to be made.
Bringing additional strategy and resources to your security program
Learn More About Other Security Program Elements
Security Program Assessment Areas
We look at what security program assessments are, why organizations have to conduct them, and more importantly, how they can be helpful to an organization’s security program goals.