7 Steps to Build Your Cybersecurity Strategy

The 7 steps
  • 1. Align with your corporate strategy
  • 2. Assess your organization’s needs and risks
  • 3. Analyze the environment
  • 4. Develop strategic goals based on a defined methodology
  • 5. House of Strategy Framework
  • 6. Define your success factors e.g. KPI and OKR
  • 7. Define the initiatives

As technology continues to evolve, the risks and threats to our digital assets grow exponentially. Cybersecurity is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity for businesses and individuals alike. 

Defining a cybersecurity strategy is essential in protecting sensitive information, ensuring privacy, and maintaining a secure digital environment. A well-defined strategy will help you to achieve your department objectives, optimize resource allocation, improve decision-making, and maintain adaptability in a dynamic business environment aligned with your organization’s goals.

While formulating a cybersecurity strategy, it is crucial to ascertain its harmonization with your organization’s strategy.  

in this article, we will discuss crafting a cybersecurity strategy and provide resources to help you create your own. Worth mentioning you don’t have to use all the techniques to develop a strategy but it is important that you use a systematic method.

  1. Align with your corporate strategy

The first step towards building a robust cybersecurity strategy is to ensure that it aligns with your organization’s broader objectives. By integrating security initiatives with your corporate strategy, you can create a comprehensive approach that supports your organization’s growth and success. This step can be achieved by Identifying key business drivers that drive your organization’s success, such as revenue growth, customer satisfaction, or operational efficiency. Your goal should be supporting these drivers and minimize any potential negative impacts.

 NCA Frameworks

Goal: Align with the corporate strategy and the organization mandates 
Techniques and frameworks: NCA Frameworks , NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) , Cybersecurity Guidelines for Capital Market Institutions, Cybersecurity Regulatory Framework (CRF) for Service Providers in the Information and Communications Technology Sector

  1. Assess your organization’s needs and risks

Assessing your organization’s needs and risks plays a crucial role in shaping the cybersecurity strategy, as it forms the foundation upon which the entire plan is built. By identifying critical assets and systems, determining threats and vulnerabilities, and evaluating the current security posture, organizations can prioritize risks and allocate resources accordingly, leading to a more targeted and effective cybersecurity strategy. Collecting information at this stage can be accomplished through various channels, such as reviewing the documentation (including policies and processes) and engaging with stakeholders through meetings, among other methods. 

This step will be utilized later on by mapping risks to strategic objectives. 


Threat modeling 

Goal: Evaluate the current security posture and identify gaps. 
Techniques and frameworks: Threat modeling, FAIRNIST SP 800-30 
Solutions: vulnerability scanners, Asset Management, Risk Management 

  1. Analyze the environment 

This step allows you to understand the internal and external factors that may impact your organization’s security posture. At this step you will be able to benchmark against industry, assess the competitive landscape, evaluating your organization’s culture and resources, and help you to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses internally and relative to the competition. 


PESTLE Analysis

Goal: Understand the internal and external factors that may impact your organization’s security posture.
Techniques and frameworks: SWOT analysis, PESTLE analysis, porter 5 forces

  1. Develop strategic goals based on a defined methodology 

Use the insights gathered during your environmental analysis to inform your strategic goals. These goals need to be aligned with your organization’s overall goals. Clearly communicate your cybersecurity strategic goals to your team, other departments, and executive leadership. This helps to create a shared understanding of the organization’s security objectives and fosters a culture of security awareness and accountability. 


Balance Scorecard

Goal: Develop strategic goals
Techniques: Balanced Scorecard, SMART

  1. House of Strategy Framework 

Another systematic method to craft a robust cybersecurity strategy is the House of Strategy. Begin by establishing a well-defined mission and vision for your cybersecurity initiatives. This will act as your guiding principle throughout the strategy formulation process. Subsequently, pinpoint the key pillars of your cybersecurity strategy. These pillars should encapsulate the primary focus areas, designed to address your organization’s unique risks, regulatory obligations, and business goals. 


Sample of Pillars

Goal: define the house of strategy elements (Vision, Mission, pillars, etc..) 
Techniques and frameworks: NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF), CIS Critical Security Controls (CSC), ISO/IEC 27001, House of Strategy 

  1. Define your success factors e.g. KPI and OKR  

This step allows you to track progress, evaluate the effectiveness of your initiatives, and make data-driven decisions to optimize your security posture. Choose KPIs that are closely related to your strategic goals and pillars, as well as being specific, measurable, and achievable. Examples of cybersecurity KPIs include the number of vulnerabilities detected and remediated, time to detect and respond to incidents, and the percentage of employees who complete security awareness training. The objective should be a high-level goal, while key results are specific, quantifiable outcomes that indicate progress towards the objective. For example, if your objective is to improve incident response, key results could include reducing the average time to respond to incidents by 25% and conducting quarterly incident response simulations.

Sitting a target and establishing a reporting and monitoring process and communicating the criteria will fosters a culture of transparency, accountability, and continuous improvement and ensure your efforts are aligned with your overall objectives.

Goal: Define a measurable success factors
Techniques and frameworks: KPI, OKR 

  1. Define the initiatives  

With your strategic goals, pillars, and success criteria established, the next step is to identify specific initiatives that will drive your cybersecurity strategy forward and help you achieve your objectives.

Initiatives may consist of one or more projects, each designed to address a particular aspect of your cybersecurity strategy. It’s essential to break down each initiative into smaller projects, which will help you manage and track the progress of your initiatives more effectively.

When defining cards for your projects, consider the following elements:

Sample of project cards

By carefully selecting and implementing these initiatives, you can create a comprehensive and robust cybersecurity program that addresses your organization’s unique risks, regulatory requirements, and business goals. This approach ensures that your security efforts are focused, effective, and continuously improving as the cyber landscape evolves.

although not every tool or framework may be suitable for creating your cybersecurity strategy, it is crucial to develop one based on a systematic method.

In conclusion, defining a cybersecurity strategy is crucial for safeguarding your digital assets, maintaining regulatory compliance, building customer trust, and ensuring business continuity. By utilizing the resources provided above and remaining vigilant against emerging threats, you can create a strong cybersecurity posture that protects your organization and its valuable assets. 

By following the outlined steps and employing a systematic method, you can create a well-defined strategy that not only protects your organization’s digital assets but also supports its overall objectives and growth. As a reminder, although not every tool or framework may be suitable for creating a cybersecurity strategy, it is crucial to develop your approach based on a reputable framework while ensuring alignment with your organization’s overall strategy.

For further inspiration and understanding, examples of cybersecurity strategies from both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and around the world are provided below. These samples can offer valuable insights and guidance as you craft your own strategy.

Cybersecurity is an ongoing process that requires regular evaluation, adjustments, and a proactive approach to stay ahead of emerging threats and vulnerabilities. 

Cybersecurity Strategies Samples: 
Saudi National Cybersecurity Authority Strategy
UK National Cyber Strategy 2022
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity Strategy
US National Cybersecurity Strategy

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