Setting and Achieving Realistic Information Security Program Goals for 2016

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.

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Kevin Beaver

Independent Information Security Consultant

Kevin Beaver is an information security consultant, expert witness, and professional speaker with Atlanta-based Principle Logic, LLC. With over 26 years of experience in the industry, Kevin specializes in performing independent security assessments revolving around information risk management. He has authored/co-authored 12 books on information security including the best-selling Hacking For Dummies and The Practical Guide to HIPAA Privacy and Security Compliance. In addition, he’s the creator of the Security On Wheels information security audio books and blog providing security learning for IT professionals on the go. You can learn more and link to Kevin's articles, blog posts, videos, and more at his website www.principlelogic.com.