If you’ve ever felt the white-hot panic of clicking on a sketchy link and closing out as fast as you can, then it won’t surprise you to know: the vast majority of data breaches are caused by human error. 

Your people — your hard-working, brilliant people! — are your greatest strength as an organization, but they’re also your greatest vulnerability when it comes to the vast and ever-evolving cyberscape of threats. That’s why every company, from the scrappiest little startup to the most seasoned data-handling behemoth, needs a cybersecurity program

But if this is your first-ever cybersecurity program, you might not know where to start. So we put together a six-step process designed to get your cybersecurity program off the ground. Let’s get started.

What is a cybersecurity program?

In short, it’s a set of organizational policies and guidelines that detail your company’s procedures for preventing and reacting to cyber threats.

When do I need one?

The ideal time to have your plan down perfectly (as with any preventable crisis) is before you need one. A cybersecurity program establishes effective security policies, raises awareness of how cyber attacks come about and how to avoid them, and mitigates both the risk of an attack and the damage a cybersecurity slip-up causes.

What makes up a V1 cybersecurity program?

No two organizations look the same or work the same way, so no two cybersecurity programs are exactly alike: it’s all about covering your bases. The technologies you use, the risks inherent to your industry, and the ins and outs of your daily operations will all inform what safe and sound information looks like for you.

6 steps to onboarding a robust cybersecurity program

That said, in case your current approach to cybersecurity is held together with c00l p4ssword5 and crossed fingers, here are some ways to introduce some proper structure.

Step 1 — conduct a risk assessment

Remember two paragraphs ago when we said your program will conform to your needs? The only way to establish what those needs are is to get clear on where risk lies for your business. 

  • Identify the critical processes of your business and assess the risks. What kind of information are you handling, and where in your organization does that happen? 
  • Know how the law applies to you. Are you subject to GDPR? CCPA? Determine the regulations for your specific industry as well, and ensure you meet those requirements. (For example, your program may need to maintain compliance with industry standards like NIST, ISO, and OWASP.)

Step 2 — develop a cybersecurity strategy

Now it’s time to roadmap. To start building out a structure that you can fill in, ask yourself:

  • Who will handle what in your security playbook? 
  • Where do your greatest risks lie?
  • How will resources be allocated?
  • What activities will you plan for, and on what timeframe? 
  • What are your target milestones for the next few years?

Having sketched out these details, get clear on the severity of the risks your company is facing, and prioritize resources for mitigating those risks.

Step 3 — determine your security policies and controls

Here’s where you architect the rulebook. You need clear and thorough standard operating procedures to ensure your company follows best practices. 

These will include administrative, technical, and plain-old physical controls and policies on information-sharing to ensure that data stays confidential, available to the people who need to access it, and maintains its integrity and accuracy. 

Step 4 — create a cadence for ongoing learning

Digital life, as they say, comes at you fast. Determine what your employees need to be trained on. Consider aspects like: 

  • Phishing and other social engineering attacks
  • Sensitive and confidential information
  • Securing personal devices and secure remote work
  • Cybersecurity best practices
  • All things password management
  • How to respond to security incidents

(And if you’re thinking, I wonder if noted training provider Ethena could help me with all of these, well … try not to be shocked: of course we can! Our brand new Cybersecurity Awareness course covers all the above topics and more.)

Step 5 — secure your network, data, and applications

Implement safeguards and strategies to prevent data loss, backup solutions, and a data recovery plan. 

Step 6 — evaluate your program’s effectiveness

It’s never just one and done with cybersecurity. Monitor your program’s effectiveness over time, ensuring that your security controls stay up-to-date, and look for the areas where you can improve. Keep apprised of emerging threats and know how to counter them. (Pro tip: one way you can do this is by opting into Continuous Learning for Ethena’s Cybersecurity Awareness course — our first topic is Emerging Threats: QR Code Phishing.)

Why should companies care about having a cybersecurity program?

The more companies rely on IT and internet connectivity, the more important it becomes to protect their systems and the data they handle from being stolen, compromised, or unknowingly shared. 

Recent news is filled with phishing attacks that give malicious actors access to customers’ personal information, and a resilient cybersecurity program helps you earn and maintain your customers’ trust.

Plus, the harm to companies isn’t just reputational — it’s also financial. 

Globally, the estimated yearly cost of cybercrime is $6 trillion, with 71.1 million people victimized annually. All of which proves that being reactive to cybercrime is much more costly than being proactive and preventative. 

How does Ethena’s Cybersecurity Awareness training fit into your cybersecurity program? 

Remember what we said about human error? You could have the most robust cybersecurity program in all of cyberspace and it won’t matter if your employees don’t know how to follow it.

We give your your team the necessary context to build cybersecurity confidence

Implementing a cybersecurity program means training employees on policies, best practices, and more. Ethena helps those company policies stick by training your employees on everything from limiting information access, to securing their own workspaces with strong passwords, to spotting phishing attempts.

We meet employees where they are

Building cybersecurity awareness means giving employees training they won’t tune out of. With that in mind, we focus on real-world scenarios that employees will recognize from their own day-to-day work, and that demonstrate what cybersecurity threats actually look like. 

We do it with videos, custom illustrations, and that famous (or infamous??) Ethena charm, so nobody zones out. And we take all the work out of assigning the right training to the right people at the right time — so worrying whether people have actually done their training takes up 0.000% of your cybersecurity brain space.

Take the first step towards V1 readiness today with Ethena

Ethena’s Cybersecurity Awareness training is just one piece of your V1 cybersecurity program. But like we said … once you take that first step, the rest has a way of coming together. 

Don’t wait until after you’ve had a security scare to give your workforce a strong foundation in preventing, detecting, and responding to security incidents: talk to an Ethena salesperson today, request a sample of our Cybersecurity Awareness training, or peruse our pricing page to see how we can best be a fit for you.

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