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NIST Cybersecurity Framework, Cybersecurity Program Management

Information Security Executive Dashboards That Empower Decision Making

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Data is only as good as what you are able to do with it. In a cybersecurity program, the audits and vendor risk assessments that we conduct are only as good as their ability to empower us to make decisions. Too often, risk and compliance solutions visualize data for the sake of visualization without asking “what does this mean?” The race to create cybersecurity dashboards that efficiently convey the security posture of the organization and empower better decision making is on. For Chief Information Security Officers, they must look to an integrated risk management platform and a risk-based approach to cybersecurity. Under an integrated risk management approach, all data collected is aggregated and rolled up under a single platform without the hindrance of modules. This integrated view not only saves time for managers, but it also increases the ability to get a true sense of the cybersecurity posture of the organization on one cyber security dashboard.

The Value Of An Information Security Executive Dashboard

More often than not, CISO’s and their top lieutenants spend great amounts of time analyzing decision making and performance of their cybersecurity program and need a fast way to measure progress from a high level and reach a common understanding - enter the executive dashboard. Sitting a layer of abstraction above the assessment level, a CISO dashboard allows senior security operation program leaders to take stock of current activity and posture without getting lost in the details and granular data.

RollupsLayer 1-1

Elegant user experiences use color-coding such as the traffic light protocol to convey information as fast as possible. For information security executives this is critical - it grants users the ability to see where the program is weakest and varying levels of risk based on assessment and immediately directs them to where they need to invest more resources.

Different lenses, different value

After implementing an integrated risk management solution almost all program data is in one place, meaning cybersecurity dashboards are illustrations of the same data only through different lenses. In the case of a cyber risk dashboard, breaking the roll-up data down into the CIA triad, cyber risk by business impact, and risk by threat type gives immediate visibility into the greatest risks to the organization from a high-level. These can break down further into risk assessment reports that can guide risk mitigation activities.

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business impact

threat type

Next level deep: Assessment dashboard

While an executive dashboard is valuable in that it gives a high-level overview of a program, there is another layer of granularity that sits between that high level and the controls: the assessment rollup. For an assessment-level dashboard to be of value, it must be able to illustrate where your organization sits in the context of that assessment when benchmarked against where you should be.

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Benchmark against the best nist benchmarking

For mature cybersecurity program, it is paramount to benchmark against gold standards to ensure that the organization is secure as it grows - the NIST Cybersecurity is the recommended gold standard as it grants the flexibility to grow and scale with your organization and as the landscape shifts. An added bonus is being able to benchmark any assessment against a gold standard like the CSF, and in the case of the CyberStrong platform it does - the five functions appear on every assessment dashboard regardless of the framework you’re working with.

 

Gap analysis visualization control familis

The core reason to conduct audits and assess vendor risks is to understand where the gaps in your organization are. The faster you and your team can get a grasp on where the holes are in your program, the faster you and work to remediate. The more superior cybersecurity dashboards illustrate that information as expeditiously as possible.

 

Cybersecurity Risk Dashboards On The Assessment Level

While you can see the breakdown of cybersecurity risk on an executive dashboard - that is a rollup of all assessments and serves a different function. An assessment-level cybersecurity dashboard must also reflect risk information as it relates to that assessment and that framework. A cybersecurity risk dashboard that adds a risk breakdown by control family gives a deeper level of insight - when coupled with the gap analysis and gold-standard benchmarking, it empowers leaders to make data-informed decisions faster supported by security risk data. Again, the value of an integrated risk management platform, in this case the ability to manage risks, in unparalleled given that IRM dashboards are not broken into the modules that limit legacy GRC platforms.

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Tools are here to make your life easier

There is a flawed argument in the risk and compliance space today that a complex program needs a complex solution. To those that argue for a complex legacy GRC solution, we’d ask: what are you paying for, then? In a time when automation is running rampant, to expect a tool to not make things simpler and easier is ludicrous. If anything, a complex cybersecurity program needs technologies that improve decision making by uniting and integrating the pieces into a greater whole. An integrated risk management solution can serve two functions: a true IRM solution is powerful enough to act as a standalone product. Especially for organizations with a newly matured cybersecurity program, jumping from spreadsheets to an IRM platform helps build the cybersecurity program of the future. For enterprise-level organization that do employ a legacy GRC platform, the use of an IRM platform changes but the value is no less present: the powerful aggregation capabilities of an integrated risk management solution coupled with its visualization gives a higher level of access for executives without requiring their access to multiple modules and go hunting for the information. In both cases, the propagation of a risk-aware culture and enabling technologies that improve performance through an integrated approach to cybersecurity results in an organization prepared to grow in a secure way. 

For a cybersecurity program to thrive and for the assessment processes to be effective, the tools you use must turn the data collected into actionable insights. The faster the information is conveyed - the risk profile and potential impact specifically - the faster you can remediate and stay secure. 

Read more about CyberStrong's Executive and Assessment level security dashboards here, available for download and offline reading.

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