6 Cybersecurity Priorities for CISOs in 2022
As a senior-level executive responsible for protecting their enterprise’s information assets, CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) works alongside officers, business managers, cybersecurity teams, and IT managers to improve their organizations’ cybersecurity stance. Their tasks include defining and establishing organization-wide security policies, developing data breach resiliency plans, orchestrating system updates and related communications, and even managing information security financials.
The roles of CISOs have become more significant over the past couple of years in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that saw a rather sudden surge in cyberattacks. After all, remote working, with all its supposed benefits and conveniences, also increases the attack surface of enterprise applications and infrastructures. Besides, off-premise endpoints and application entry points are harder to secure and monitor. And factors such as ever-evolving external threats, shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals, and difficulties around monitoring and managing systems remotely make 2022 a challenging year for CISOs. As such, CISOs today ought to be more vigilant in their efforts.
Also, according to Statista, 58% CISOs believe that human error is the most significant cybersecurity vulnerability in 2021, even as cybercriminals and cyber-attack modalities have become all the more sophisticated. While this is true to some extent, most companies overlook the fact that CISOs can take initiatives in reducing human-centered vulnerabilities.
Here are 6 things CISOs should prioritize to have an unruffled year ahead.
1. Understand the New Work Culture
According to a survey by ClubCisco, 64% of CISOs say that they’re more stressed than they were a year ago. The reasons pertain to the difficulties associated with the new remote working culture. 2022 shows no indication of any change in hybrid working styles, where employees split their workdays between home and offices. In fact, it might very well be the new normal. CISOs must understand the limitations and risks associated with such working models and propose relevant amendments to existing security processes and policies.
2. Secure Your Workforce
The hybrid workforce is harder to monitor, with constantly changing work patterns and shuffling of in-office and at-home employees. The chances are high that many of these work-from-home folks are too careless or lazy to install important software patches and updates. The priority of CISOs should be getting everyone’s systems up to date so that there are no endpoint frailties. Leveraging network detection and response (NDR) for visibility into known and unknown threats, alongside cloud-based extended detection and response, or XDR, is an excellent strategy to secure hybrid workforces and workflows. XDR combines security information and event management (SIEM) with endpoint detection and response (EDR.)
Gaining a holistic security stance also involves evaluating the skills of security teams and identifying their weaknesses both from a technical and business standpoint. It’s important to educate every user on cybersecurity awareness and best practices, particularly about phishing exploits and attacks that leverage social engineering as they are more in use by cybercriminals to target unsuspecting remote workers. At the same time, it’s equally essential to improve the security team’s skills in aspects like business analytics and communication. It would give them the cybersecurity big-picture pertaining to the entire business process.
3. Identify Top Risks
Every enterprise carries with it some sort of cyber vulnerability. Period. New vulnerabilities and exploits are arising on a daily basis, and security standards are always meant to change/evolve accordingly. It’s the responsibility of the CISO to orchestrate this ‘evolution.’ They have to be proactive in identifying and prioritizing risks, bringing them to the attention of the stakeholders, and formulating and setting a mitigation plan in motion.
4. Embrace Zero Trust Frameworks
Given that companies are increasingly functioning in a decentralized manner, adopting and implementing a zero-trust cybersecurity framework should be one of the top priorities of CISOs. A zero-trust framework works on the motto ‘trust nothing and records everything.’ It requires continuous authentication and authorization of user access, irrespective of their ‘level.’ The framework treats users both inside and outside the organizational network equally as far as validation is concerned. Zero trust policies rely on real-time visibility into networks, their attributes, and, often, user devices. Zero trust security frameworks are the need of the hour for securing remote working, where users could try to enter the network from anywhere.
5. Be a Continuous Learner
It goes without saying that CISOs ought to be well informed and, more importantly, knowledgeable in terms of cybersecurity technologies and tactics. Only a constantly updated knowledge base can enable them to adequately align business requirements with information security efforts. It doesn’t mean that CISOs should be subject matter experts. They should rather be experienced and trained to have the necessary acumen to understand emerging cybersecurity nuances. And they have to be able to lucidly explain the same to the C-suites. This calls for CISOs to have better communication with their cybersecurity teams, to be able to ask the right questions and validate responses.
6. Leverage Automation
Human efforts alone do little to help enterprises scale their cybersecurity operations. Cybersecurity automation, in this regard, gives enterprises a better edge over newer/rapidly spreading attacks. Prioritizing and implementing cybersecurity automation—in whatever degrees possible—would relieve security teams from carrying out a manual, redundant tasks and enable them to focus more on higher-level threat analysis. 95% of organizations have already automated some of their cybersecurity processes. CISOs ought to identify which of the cybersecurity processes and practices in their company could be automated.
2022 won’t be an easy year for CISOs, as hybrid work cultures are still, arguably, in their infancy. Not to mention cybercriminals continuing to do what they do best—finding new and improved ways to breach enterprises in whatever ways possible. On the other hand, the year could potentially mark a paradigm shift in how CISOs and enterprises see cybersecurity. CISOs must comprehensively understand how the hybrid work culture can change the entire layout of the cybersecurity strategies of enterprises. While embracing a zero-trust cybersecurity framework and cybersecurity automation are promising points to start in this regard, CISOs should strive to better position themselves as the cybersecurity prime movers in their organizations.