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Five Tenets of Operational Cybersecurity

How to tell if your cybersecurity is set up with a truly operational mindset

Cybersecurity is binary – it either prevents calamity or it doesn’t

It’s that simple.

Here’s why it gets so complicated.

The more your business uses the cloud and the internet to connect to the partners, suppliers and customers you serve and work with, the more vulnerable it becomes to cyber attack.

To realistically prevent disaster, your cybersecurity program needs to be able to:

Protect the people and systems that make up your own business

Engage the businesses you work with to mitigate 3rd-party risk

Proactively hunt for threats to your brand and customers

And always be prepared for rapid, effective response.

We come from the world of National Intelligence. And in our experience, the single most important facet of a cybersecurity program is an operational mindset.

In our world, execution isn’t a best effort.

For your program to be truly operational, it has to work, it has to last and it has to keep getting better.

To help you determine whether or not that’s what you’ve actually got, we’ve collected five tenets of operational cybersecurity.

If these five things are true, you can feel confident your cybersecurity is truly effective.


There are no operational gaps

Your cybersecurity program isn’t the policies you come up with or the software you use.

It’s the actions your organization takes based on those policies and technologies.

If you want to know if your cybersecurity is truly operational, you have to look at how your people operate.

Do your admins and analysts know specifically what to do in the case of an incident? Or are they overwhelmed by alerts and reports written in confusing technical jargon?

Vendors and partners can flood you with alerts, technical details and data noise. In our experience in National Intelligence, when people need to take action, they needless data – not more.

So cybersecurity is only operational when your people know specifically what to do, how to do it and when to do it.

When they have specific prescriptions to work with, your people move faster and their actions are more effective because they ladder up to a priority that’s specific to your business.

It’s purpose-built

It’s true that your program needs to be auditable and compliant. But it also needs to be operational in a way that’s specific to your company.

The regulators can’t keep up with threat actors and new exploits any more than you can.

The security rating software companies can’t prioritize any better than your own people can.

Unless you’re actively looking for threats and vulnerabilities and proactively dealing with them, your program will not be able to protect your business.

A truly effective security program has to consider all of your own business’ endpoints, users and vulnerabilities as well as the 3rd-party risks emanating from the partners, customers and suppliers you do business with.

In other words, it has to reflect the reality of your business ecosystem.

For your cybersecurity program to be fit for your purposes, it should make the most of the resources, policies, and practices you already have in place.

It removes complexity

An effective cybersecurity program not only scales up effortlessly – it minimizes complexity in the process.

Your IT, Security, and Risk Management teams are busy enough – they don’t need to be overwhelmed by added responsibility.

If anything, they need less time spent on low-value-added tasks.

That’s why a truly effective security program allows you to manage the vulnerabilities of your ecosystem while giving you more operational bandwidth.

By leveraging your existing practices and resources with automated processes – your people only have to manage exceptions.

Unless your cybersecurity program is designed to insightfully automate the vast majority of cybersecurity actions that need to be taken, it will not be a true operation because it won’t be effective.

You can’t ignore third-party risk and you can’t just pile on added work. Strategic process automation tangibly reduces an overwhelming amount of risk.


It’s CFO-friendly

Your cybersecurity program can be all of the above – but if it doesn’t make strong financial sense, it’s certainly not effective.

Most businesses can’t afford to spend hundreds of millions of dollars protecting themselves.

But absolutely every business has to be able to protect itself because if it can’t, no one else will.

A program that’s effective and financially sustainable is built on two touchpoints:

1. Leveraging your existing resources towards protecting your business in the most efficient way possible.

2. Using the experience, the data and the operational capacity of experts to do more with less.

Your budget doesn’t have to hinder your ability to tangibly reduce risk. If you don’t have the resources or expertise to create truly effective cyber operations, work with experts that do.

It’s demonstrable

Something as important as your cybersecurity program needs the right level of stakeholder buy-in.

To show value in reducing cyber-risk, you need to be able to demonstrate the controls in place – as well as offer specific data and KPIs to show its effectiveness.

To find out if your security program is truly effective – ask yourself:

Can we track our mean time to resolution and have we seen any improvements over time?

How do we assign risk scores to third parties and does it tally with the reality of the risks we face?

What is our Mean Time To Detect a security event or incident?

What is our Mean Time To Investigate & Respond to security alerts or incidents?

What is the volume of security alerts generated per day by our security solutions?

What is the number of unmanaged or unmonitored devices connected to my network?

What is the number of unpatched or unmitigated vulnerabilities connected to my network?

What is the number of devices running legacy or out-of-date operating systems and software connected to my network?

This level of transparency isn’t just critical for demonstrating value – it’s necessary for assessing real effectiveness.

We’re BlueVoyant.

And we help you operationalize cybersecurity, extending your team and expertise, maximizing your investment – so you can effectively protect your business ecosystem. If you think your business needs to make that step, we should probably talk.

Here are some ways we could help.

Scale your security with our SOC-as-a-Service

See how we combine data, insightful automations and an elite team of experienced operatives to protect businesses.

Scale your 3rd-party risk operations

Find out how our Risk Operations Center can help your business assess more risks and manage more vendors.

Assess your business’ security

Find out how secure your business really is with an assessment from one of our experienced operatives and former attackers.