It wasn’t too long ago that association leaders would discuss informational technology (IT) and business alignment without mentioning cybersecurity. Today, organizations without a fully integrated, business-aligned security framework are a ticking time bomb.
As we move deeper into the data and innovation economy and the expanding digital ecosystem, the future belongs to organizations that redirect spending to protect assets based on strategic value.
Your association’s crown jewels and organizational value are manifested in digital form. These digital crown jewels — including your member data, intellectual properties, propriety research, and software applications — are deeply ingrained in technology networks and susceptible to a wildly volatile threat landscape.
In a world where everything is connected and rapidly evolving, IT security can either be a strategic business enabler for your association or an insurmountable roadblock. Powering digital resiliency and cyber transformation requires us to refocus cyber investment. Technical controls and risk mitigation only get you so far. Today, you need an integrated risk footing.
Today, we must get off the back foot and stretch into a stronger cyber posture. Protecting mission-critical information assets means shifting to a more adaptive, collaborative, and proactive stance.
A business-aligned approach to cybersecurity enables your association's strategic capabilities in a secure manner and provides clarity to IT priorities and business strategy. Getting this proactive cyber posture in place helps to guide decision-making, improve ROI, and systematically unlock innovation in today's volatile digital landscape.
Of course, synchronizing cybersecurity and business strategy doesn’t happen overnight. It's an endless marathon — and evolution —not a sprint.
Business-aligned IT security is the apex of an organization's IT and cyber evolution.
In a coherent, business-aligned security program, cybersecurity is embedded in key functions and IT operations of the organization. Operating at a business-aligned level indicates a high level of maturity, adaptability, and operational excellence.
Business-integrated security program balances and structures cyber posture with business strategy. Organizations that have reached this level of organizational and IT maturity have a clear understanding of how business and technical imperatives align and how they interact in terms of infrastructure assets and integrated risk.
To operate on a mission-aligned level, you must continuously evaluate the level of confidence that stakeholders have in security practices in terms of the gaps in strategic processes and the amount of friction for end-users.
Integrating security initiatives with organizational goals and strategic objectives guides decision-making and enhance business satisfaction with cybersecurity.
Embracing an active-defense posture turns cybersecurity into a strategic enabler of your association’s mission. By tailoring security investments to protect crucial information assets, this mission-aligned security approach transforms how security is viewed and funded.
IT systems and processes that are selected and implemented in line with an organization's larger strategic plan and integrated cyber approach keep your organization moving in the right direction and working towards the same goals.
This synchronization improves cybersecurity trust and allows you to justify the need to realign cyber funding and redirect spending to gain buy-in from stakeholders.
Digital transformation has made it increasingly difficult for organizations to include cybersecurity in risk management and IT governance. Business-aligned IT security strategy fills the demand for a more sustainable and predictive risk monitoring approach.
Because risk mitigation activities and business-aligned security approaches are not mutually exclusive, there is some overlap between the two. But while are both important, IT security trends are moving away from pure risk mitigation towards a more balanced, mission-critical security posture.
In this more evolved cyber model, cyber risk is viewed through the lens of crucial IT assets and infrastructure. Risk metrics are developed for more effective decision-making and threat response. Plus, analytics are integrated into your intelligence-gathering processes. These act as performance incentives to reinforce practice governance and your new active-defense strategy.
Compared to a fully risk-based approach, programs that integrate security into the overarching strategy:
A network security practice called “micro-segmentation” is used as a framework for business-aligned cybersecurity measures. Micro-segmentation enables strategic cyber investment by allowing you to refocus your application services and enable faster, more strategic decision-making.
The idea is to break down data environments and cloud deployments into secure zones. These distinct security segments give you more visibility and control of workloads, IT security vulnerabilities, and network access. This makes it easier to locate and manage network weaknesses, cloud visibility gaps, and security controls. It also makes it easier to limit traffic based on Zero Trust (aka the "never trust, always verify” principle) and other emerging security best practices to prevent malicious attacks that lead to increased costs.
All in all, micro-segmentation allows you to deliver a better user experience and safeguard critical assets to further your strategic goals and promote operational excellence. Plus, it enables movement towards the new information landscape and changing gamut of risk.
Shifting to a business-aligned capability allows you to control costs and substantial risks while simultaneously unlocking innovation, organization-wide coordination, and adaptability.
If you want your association to shift towards continuous improvement and innovation, you need to develop a proactive security culture.
Today, maintaining and improving security alignment not only helps you protect your infrastructure assets. It also enables new value streams and digital transformation.
If you want to put your association on the path toward a business-aligned future, get started by downloading our free Ultimate IT Policy List for Associations, which can guide you in creating or revising a comprehensive IT policy.