Everyone has heard of New Year’s resolutions, but it seems very few people actually benefit from them. Studies have shown — and gym parking lots have demonstrated — that after a few weeks in January, we tend to get back to old our old ways and nothing of value really materializes.

As it relates to your information security program, or anything else critically important to your business, goals are the way to go. Carefully considered and meaningful areas of accomplishment that are documented with deadlines are the only proven way to truly get things done.

Establish the Right Security Goals

You may have trouble figuring out how to prioritize your specific information security needs, or perhaps your head is just too full to provide any such analysis anytime soon. The following are general goals that you could likely apply to your own situation in order to take your information security program to the next level:

  • We determine what sensitive information we have and where it’s currently located so we can keep better tabs on its whereabouts and present risks.
  • We perform more in-depth analysis of the technical security vulnerabilities impacting all our systems, including network infrastructure devices, physical security systems and lesser-known applications and databases that are critical to the business.
  • We create an ongoing social engineering testing and user awareness campaign that’s both measurable and measured.
  • We develop metrics to analyze additional areas of our security program such as policy enforcement, network monitoring and alerting, security testing and incident response.
  • We gather additional information on all our vendors so we can determine specific IT-related risks and hold the proper parties accountable.
  • We create a formal security training program for our IT staff, including system architects, analysts and developers, to ensure everyone involved gets the training they need and deserve.
  • We create an incident response plan — or flesh out our existing one — so we have a reliable set of steps we can take when network events occur.
  • We further engage management on a periodic basis beyond sharing audit reports and project status updates by also demonstrating the additional systems, oversight and information we now have to help us better detect and respond to network events.

Don’t Set Your Security Program Up for Failure

Notice that each of these goals is written in the present tense as if it is already occurring. This is a proven method for programming your subconscious mind to ensure that the goal is accomplished. Each goal must reasonable and achievable. Why set yourself up for failure?

Each goal must also be accompanied by specific steps required for achievement, along with a set deadline to ensure that you hold yourself (or others) accountable. Goals must be reviewed periodically and consistently — i.e., every day or at least every week. Otherwise, work gets in the way and goals are soon forgotten.

If you’re really serious about making information security improvements for the new year, having a set of documented goals is the only way to go. Combined with some focused discipline, accomplishing these goals — and any others that you might have — will do wonders for your information security program in 2016 and for years to come.

More from CISO

Bringing threat intelligence and adversary insights to the forefront: X-Force Research Hub

3 min read - Today defenders are dealing with both a threat landscape that’s constantly changing and attacks that have stood the test of time. Innovation and best practices co-exist in the criminal world, and one mustn’t distract us from the other. IBM X-Force is continuously observing new attack vectors and novel malware in the wild, as adversaries seek to evade detection innovations. But we also know that tried and true tactics — from phishing and exploiting known vulnerabilities to using compromised credentials and…

What’s new in the 2023 Cost of a Data Breach report

3 min read - Data breach costs continue to grow, according to new research, reaching a record-high global average of $4.45 million, representing a 15% increase over three years. Costs in the healthcare industry continued to top the charts, as the most expensive industry for the 13th year in a row. Yet as breach costs continue to climb, the research points to new opportunities for containing breach costs. The research, conducted independently by Ponemon Institute and analyzed and published by IBM Security, constitutes the…

Cyber leaders: Stop being your own worst career enemy. Here’s how.

24 min read - Listen to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you find your favorite audio content. We’ve been beating the cyber talent shortage drum for a while now, and with good reason. The vacancy numbers are staggering, with some in the industry reporting as many as 3.5 million unfilled positions as of April 2023 and projecting the disparity between supply and demand will remain until 2025. Perhaps one of the best (and arguably only) ways we can realistically bridge this gap is to…

Poor communication during a data breach can cost you — Here’s how to avoid it

5 min read - No one needs to tell you that data breaches are costly. That data has been quantified and the numbers are staggering. In fact, the IBM Security Cost of a Data Breach estimates that the average cost of a data breach in 2022 was $4.35 million, with 83% of organizations experiencing one or more security incidents. But what’s talked about less often (and we think should be talked about more) is how communication — both good and bad — factors into…