4-Step Approach To Identify And Secure Critical IT Systems

Mapping And Securing Critical Assets: A 4-Step Approach

Published on June 5th, 2024

In today’s digital landscape, protecting critical assets is paramount. A 4-step approach can help organizations effectively map and secure these vital components.

The first step involves identifying key business processes, followed by mapping the underlying technology assets that support them.

This allows for a clear understanding of the most critical infrastructure. Prioritization is then crucial, as resources should be focused on the assets that pose the highest risk.

Understanding Business-Critical Assets

In any organization’s IT infrastructure, certain assets are deemed critical for the functioning of the business.

These include application servers, databases, and privileged identities. The security implications of any harm to these assets can be significant.

Defining Business-Critical Assets

However, not every technology asset holds the same level of importance. Determining which assets are truly business-critical requires a deeper analysis.

Understanding the risks associated with these assets is crucial for effective cybersecurity governance.

The Three Pillars Of Cybersecurity Governance

Business-critical assets form the backbone of a company’s operations, alongside business processes and key personnel.

These three pillars collectively define an organization’s cybersecurity governance framework.

The Challenge Of Addressing Everything

In today’s complex cybersecurity landscape, organizations face an overwhelming number of issues requiring remediation.

From vulnerabilities to misconfigurations, the sheer volume of tasks can lead to a scattergun approach to security, often resulting in wasted resources.

Prioritizing Efforts With The CTEM Framework

Gartner’s Continuous Threat Exposure Management (CTEM) framework offers a solution to this dilemma.

By focusing on the critical and exposed IT systems in relation to business processes, organizations can prioritize their efforts effectively.

Aligning Security With Business Objectives

A key advantage of prioritizing business-impacting issues is the alignment it creates between security initiatives and organizational goals.

This alignment fosters better communication with senior leadership and demonstrates the value of cybersecurity as a business enabler.

Enhanced Efficiency And Communication

By concentrating on business-critical assets, security teams can achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness in their operations.

This focus not only strengthens cybersecurity measures but also improves communication and alignment with the C-suite and board.

How To Safeguard Business Critical Assets: A 4-Step Guide

Step 1: Identifying Business Processes

To begin protecting your business-critical assets, the first step is to identify your key business processes. Without a clear understanding of what these are, it’s challenging to prioritize security measures effectively.

If your company hasn’t conducted a thorough business risk assessment, consider obtaining reports from your risk management team.

These reports can provide valuable insights into your critical business drivers and areas of highest risk.

Alternatively, you can adopt the “follow the money” approach, examining how your company generates revenue and allocates expenditures.

This method can serve as an initial discovery of your business processes and the technologies that support them.

Step 2: Mapping From Business Processes To Technology Assets

Once you’ve identified your critical business processes, the next step is to map them to the underlying technology assets.

These assets include application servers, databases, secure file storages, and privileged identities. It’s essential to consider file storages that hold sensitive data as critical assets.

Tools like XM Cyber can automate this process by providing reports on your technology assets across both on-premises and cloud environments.

Alternatively, you can use CMDB-assets management tools, ITSM solutions, or even Excel spreadsheets to document your assets.

Step 3: Prioritization

With a clear understanding of your business-critical assets, it’s crucial to prioritize security measures.

Since it’s impossible to address every security issue simultaneously, focus on the top 3-5 business areas or processes that are the most important.

Collaborate closely with your risk management team and key stakeholders, including senior leadership and the board, to determine these priorities.

Aligning security efforts with the company’s strategic objectives is essential for success. Consider categorizing risks based on severity, such as P1 (critical), P2 (high impact), and P3 (low impact).

Step 4: Implementing Security Measures

Now that you’ve identified and prioritized your business-critical assets, it’s time to implement security measures to protect them.

Start by collecting security findings from vulnerability management solutions or recent penetration test results.

These findings can inform remediation activities, but it’s essential to prioritize them based on risk severity and potential impact on critical assets.

Tools like XM Cyber’s Scenario framework can help by running continuous attack simulations on specific business-critical assets.

These simulations provide insights into potential attack paths and recommend prioritized remediation activities with the highest return on investment.

Summing Up

In the pursuit of cybersecurity, it’s essential to prioritize efforts based on the impact to business-critical assets.

This strategic approach enhances the overall security posture of the organization and reinforces the alignment between security initiatives and business objectives.