Make Good Choices: Breaking Down your Cybersecurity Options

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Every business needs to practice good cybersecurity. But government contractors face a slew of requirements and mandates especially rigorous—for good reasons. Protecting your data is important. Protecting the government’s data is of national-security importance, which is why cybersecurity options are so important. While it’s tempting to do the minimum to keep costs low, every business leader knows that risks are evolving. The best approach for small and mid-sized businesses is to adopt industry best practices, align your cybersecurity program with your business strategy, and address future needs with a program that is robust and scalable.

In an effort to capitalize on cybersecurity spending, many providers have resorted to pushy tactics. Their cybersecurity options via packages cover some of the basics plus include extras your company may not want or need, or include multi-year service contracts that far exceed any government requirements. If you don’t have some technical background in IT and know what’s required of your company, it’s easy to be swayed by marketing.

I advise business leaders to get smart. And the best way to do that is to seek out a variety of providers and ask for a free estimate. A good company will ask questions and provide a recommendation and costs. A great one will make sure you understand what’s required, where your company currently stands, and what services you will need. Your decision should include services that complement your own internal capabilities to:

Embed Best Practices

While thousands of U.S. companies will need to comply with NIST 800-171, CMMC 2.0, and DFARS Clause 252.204-7012, bad actors are also hard at work devising new ways to trick employees. That’s why it’s important to have a security mindset, a security-focused culture, and to continuously train and test your workforce. Indeed, adopting and embracing these best practices is a sign that security is part of everything you do.

Just look at CMMC Level 2. Of its 110 controls, about half are technical in nature. The rest require new policies and procedures involving a change in employee behaviors. When security is truly a core value of your organization, classroom cybersecurity training is reinforced in daily processes and interactions. Plus, thinking about security first becomes a habit. 

Align Cybersecurity Options and Business Strategy

Just like all of the other administrative functions in your company (finance, HR, operations), cybersecurity runs through all that you do. Managing the risks that pose a threat to your organization’s overall health requires staying focused on the big picture. To do that, you must align cybersecurity options to your business goals. 

  • Use security plans to also meet larger company goals, like digital transformation, paperless operations, or upskilling employees.
  • Connect security objectives to business requirements. For example, specific security objectives can be built into staff performance goals and supplier performance measurements. Protecting assets and information and avoiding breaches helps you meet business objectives.
  • Focus on reducing risk, not eliminating it. Cybersecurity is a journey of incremental steps.

Focus on the Future

Every industry has or is developing cybersecurity standards. A future-focused strategy doesn’t just meet today’s minimum requirements. Instead, it looks at implementing coordinated programs and technology that can scale as requirements change. With a robust cybersecurity program in place, your company can pursue any certifications or audits that are needed or required. And your brand can use security as a competitive advantage. 

As an example of this approach, if you do work with the U.S. Government, it’s probably wise to invest in a high-trust environment like GCC High now. Not only does it meet current requirements, but it will fulfill compliance goals for CMMC 2.0, DFARS, FAR, ITAR, and CJIS.

Consider Your Options—and You Do Have Options

If you believe the ads that pop up when you search for cybersecurity, every provider out there has a single solution that meets all your needs. The truth is that there are many options and pathways. Tailor your approach to your company’s structure, existing systems, and business goals. 

You even have a choice when it comes to licenses. Returning to our GCC High example, GCC High requires a vetting process and comes with a bigger price tag. Options exist to use Microsoft Commercial in combination with other solutions to achieve the same level of security and compliance standards for less. A provider motivated only by their profits, and not invested in your success, might not present other options or even offer them within their portfolio. This is where internal knowledge and comparison shopping can help.

Also, your provider matters, too, even for licenses. Some good ones include implementation and configuration in their costs, and some even help with documentation

Cybersecurity is a significant investment for companies that may not have done risk management or security as part of their operations before now. However, make no mistake, every small or medium-sized business, regardless of its industry, now must incorporate security into their processes (the risks and impact are too high to leave it to chance). The best approach is to adopt industry best practices, align your cybersecurity options with your business strategy, and remain future-focused.

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Derek Kernus is the director of cybersecurity operations at DTS and holds CISSP, CCSP, and CMMC RP certifications. DTS provides tailored, scalable cyber solutions for small- and medium-sized organizations leveraging top resources and the expertise of talented individuals with a passion for excellence to help protect our clients’ people and data.