Going Beyond the Security Report Creating a Comprehensive Strategy and Building Influence to Promote Meaningful Growth By Chris Rodgers, PlexTrac Cyber Swiss Army Knife With 15 years of expertise in cybersecurity, I’ve learned that all sizes of organizations can create a strong security posture with the aid of a complete strategy built on the CIA triad (confidentiality, integrity, availability) if the security program and leaders effectively build influence with all stakeholders, both within the offensive security unit and beyond. Beyond technical proficiency, programs that want to really mature must learn to Scale through growth Build a culture of awareness Increase resilience Leverage both pentesting and vulnerability management Streamline processes Stay current Develop external partnerships In the following blog, I want to share some nuggets of truth that I have found over the years to ring true not only for building an effective pentesting program but for success in the infosec industry in general. If you are looking for a solution to manage and streamline your offensive security testing and reporting, check out PlexTrac, the premier pentest reporting and collaboration platform. The Crucial Role of Information Security In my experience with many different organizations over the years, I can tell you that they tend to emphasize different areas in their information security programs. Some organizations are big on making sure they have the best SIEM (security information and event management), while others are most focused on making sure they are fully compliant. Regardless of the focus, information security really comes down to just a few things: Identifying potential risks Drawing a blueprint of your plan for those risks Determining ownership to fix issues Remediating or accepting the fix Validating that you are safe Rinsing and repeating (retesting) While simple in theory, doing these things well in practice requires good management, the right tools and partners, and streamlined processes. Growing Through Scaling Effective vulnerability management at scale is essential to reducing potential risks as companies grow. Making the proper connections within the organization, particularly with leadership, is the key to scaling. Prioritizing security projects is made easier with leadership on board and when engineers are given instructions to prioritize security while also fixing bugs. Fostering a Culture of Ownership and Awareness One of the largest issues that we deal with on a daily basis is identifying who owns what asset, where it is, and how it is going to get fixed. In the world of VPN users and cloud-based architecture, asset management can be a difficult task for many organizations. Many small-scaled companies don’t have to worry about this as much, but they end up struggling with tags and asset classifications. Mid-sized and especially enterprise level organizations cannot always rely on the FQDN or hostname let alone IP, particularly because business shifts like mergers and acquisitions often create messy asset management processes. Just remember, if you submit messy data in, you will likely get messy data out. Increasing Preparedness and Resilience Adopt a resilient and prepared mentality, understanding that no organization can be totally protected from online threats. You can lessen the effects of breaches and recover more quickly by taking a proactive approach, preparing for possible incidents, and constantly improving your security procedures. To equip your organization to react to cyber incidents and maintain business continuity in the face of difficulty, create a strong incident response plan, practice it frequently, and learn from past mistakes. Leverage Both Pentesting and Vulnerability Management Penetration testing and vulnerability management complement one another to offer comprehensive insights into an organization’s security posture and direct remediation efforts based on actual threat situations. While penetration testing mimics actual attacks to assess an organization’s defenses, vulnerability management focuses on finding, classifying, and addressing weaknesses. A more substantial and resilient security posture is ensured by this cooperative method. This is like trying to track a single fish in the ocean versus one that you know its specific location. Develop Your Procedures Organizations can stay ahead of new threats and adjust to changes in the cybersecurity environment by implementing strategies like threat-informed penetration testing, continuous assessment, and dynamic report delivery. Businesses can proactively discover and address vulnerabilities, lowering the probability of successful cyberattacks, by continuously enhancing security procedures based on the evolving threat landscape and industry best practices. If you don’t have the latest information at your disposal, you need to get it. What was true last week, is not always still true today. Keep Current and Be Flexible To improve your security stance, you can better defend against changing threats and lower the risk to your company by staying on the cutting edge of innovation and incorporating new and innovative solutions. Threat-informed pentesting and continuous assessments help to prioritize vulnerabilities and identify what is tip of the spear to work on. No one loves writing reports. Let alone formatting them. By embracing dynamic report delivery, you cut out on the time needed to create the report and navigate the small elements, and you can spend more time doing the things that got you excited in the first place — all while providing more actionable insights to those doing the fixing. Make Use of External Partnerships As your program maturity grows, be sure to work together and exchange information with outside partners, including colleagues in the same industry, law enforcement officials, and security experts to strengthen your defenses and stay one step ahead of cybercriminals. The complete cybersecurity ecosystem gains from participation in programs like threat intelligence sharing platforms and public-private partnerships because these initiatives offer insightful information on the most recent threat actors, attack methods, and best defense practices. Create the Right Connections, Consult and Promote Improving your program ultimately comes down to influence and communication. Making the right connections, especially with leadership, is the first step in influencing organizational change. Though it’s crucial to develop influence with specific engineers, influencing leadership makes it much simpler to drive security outcomes. There is no one-size-fits-all method for security, so you must pay attention to your partners to comprehend their difficulties. Provide stakeholders with customized solutions, helping remediate issues quicker and build stronger partnerships. Influence depends on having a consistent message. Teams are more easily aligned on security initiatives when they have been given the goal up front. Utilize popular forums to spread the word about your strategy and ensure that the group is communicating consistently. Enjoy the Benefits of a Comprehensive Strategy Improved regulatory compliance, increased stakeholder trust, and a more solid basis for long-term success are the outcomes of a comprehensive strategy that includes the CIA triad, scaling, vulnerability management, penetration testing, and maturing processes. Achieving a comprehensive strategy is made possible through communication and influence across the organization. Cybersecurity influence in an organization extends beyond technological proficiency. It includes establishing connections, promoting a security-conscious culture, fostering continuous development, and keeping up with new trends and technologies. You can make sure that your company is well prepared to handle the rapidly changing landscape of cybersecurity by staying committed to these principles and maintaining a strong, adaptable security posture ready for the challenges of the future. Looking for a platform to help you live into the idea of improved efficiency and collaboration? Look no further than PlexTrac! Book your personalized demo of the platform today. Chris RodgersPlexTrac Cyber Swiss Army KnifeChris Rodgers is a highly experienced security professional with a deep understanding of penetration testing and ethical hacking. With over 15 years of experience in the industry, Chris has helped numerous organizations identify and address their vulnerabilities and secure their critical systems. Throughout Chris's career, he has worked on a wide range of security assessments and engagements wherein he has supported large enterprises, vendors, and start-up organizations. His expertise in these areas has led to the successful identification and exploitation of security flaws in complex systems, allowing clients to proactively address and mitigate risk. In addition to his technical skills, Chris is a skilled communicator who can effectively convey complex security concepts to technical and non-technical audiences. He has a passion for sharing his knowledge and experience and has delivered numerous presentations and workshops on topics related to vulnerability management, asset management, and security assessments in the cybersecurity space.