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The First 100 Days: New CISO Strategies for Building Cyber Resilience

In the rapidly evolving landscape of cybersecurity, the role of a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is more critical than ever. The initial 100 days in office set the tone for a CISO's tenure, laying the foundation for a resilient cybersecurity posture.

With the release of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) 2.0, there's a renewed opportunity for CISOs to steer their organizations toward enhanced cyber resilience. This blog post offers guidance for CISOs during their first 100 days, leveraging the strengths of the updated NIST CSF 2.0.

Understanding the NIST CSF 2.0

The NIST CSF 2.0 marks a significant evolution from its predecessor, extending its scope beyond critical infrastructure to encompass all organizations, regardless of size or sector. This broadened applicability underscores the universal importance of cybersecurity across different industries.

One of the most notable updates is the introduction of a sixth function, "Govern," emphasizing the strategic alignment of cybersecurity with overall enterprise risk management. This addition signals a shift toward recognizing cybersecurity as a board-level concern, on par with financial and legal risks.

By providing a structured approach to cybersecurity risk management, the NIST CSF 2.0 aims to help organizations of all types improve their cybersecurity posture and resilience. It is therefore paramount that a CISO’s strategy for putting an organization on the right path to cyber resiliency begin on day one.

The First 30 Days: Assessment and Alignment

The initial steps outlined in the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) 2.0 focus on developing an organizational understanding to manage cybersecurity risk to systems, assets, data, people, and capabilities. Identifying these elements is crucial for forming the foundation of an organization's cybersecurity strategy. This approach ensures a comprehensive view of the organization's cybersecurity posture and supports informed decision-making to enhance overall resilience.

Initiate a Comprehensive Assessment

Using the NIST CSF 2.0 as your guide, start by assessing how well-integrated cybersecurity risks are with your enterprise risk management. In doing so, consider leveraging innovative solutions like those offered by UncommonX, which excel in asset discovery and management. Our agentless discovery, for example, can provide a panoramic view of your environment, identifying all devices and connections, including cloud and SaaS applications. This kind of extensive functionality and fact-based data supports a thorough assessment and establishes a solid strategic foundation.

Engage with Key Stakeholders

The success of cybersecurity initiatives often hinges on cross-departmental collaboration. Use this initial period to foster relationships with IT, business units, and executive leadership. Frame discussions around the strategic importance of cybersecurity, underpinned by the complete visibility achieved through asset discovery. This not only demonstrates the interconnectedness of cybersecurity with other business functions but also showcases a proactive approach to asset management and risk reduction.

Days 31 to 60: Strategy Development and Planning

Develop a Tailored Cybersecurity Strategy

Armed with insights from your initial assessment, develop a cybersecurity strategy that aligns with the NIST CSF 2.0. Focus on customizing the framework to your organization's specific context, leveraging the flexibility of the CSF Profiles to address unique risks and priorities. Ensure that the strategy encompasses all six functions of the CSF, with particular emphasis on the newly added Govern function.

Set Realistic Goals and Priorities

Prioritize actions based on the risk assessment outcomes and the organization's risk appetite. Establish short-term and long-term goals for closing gaps and enhancing cyber resilience. Using a consistent method for evaluating risk and scoring improvement is critical. For example, UncommonX provides customers with a comprehensive dashboard, featuring their R3 score, along with trend lines and actionable insights on the specific items impacting the R3 score. This period is crucial for laying out a roadmap that balances immediate security needs with strategic objectives.

Days 61 to 100: Implementation and Engagement

Once you have achieved complete visibility of your network vulnerabilities and assets, it’s time to implement key initiatives and lead a consistent culture of cybersecurity awareness. The NIST provides additional information via its Computer Security Resource Center (CSRC) to assist teams in doing so.

Kickstart Implementation of Key Initiatives

Begin implementing priority initiatives identified in your strategy. Focus on quick wins that can demonstrate value and build momentum for broader cybersecurity efforts. Consider starting with initiatives that enhance governance and risk management practices, aligning with the Govern function of the CSF 2.0.

Foster a Culture of Cybersecurity Awareness

Cybersecurity is as much about people as it is about technology. Invest in training and awareness programs that empower employees to recognize and respond to cyber threats. Use the CSF's Awareness and Training (PR.AT) subcategory as a guide for developing comprehensive training initiatives. And continue to create a culture of continuous improvement.

Set Your Team on the Path to Cyber Resiliency

The first 100 days as a CISO are a critical period for setting the direction of your organization's cybersecurity efforts. By leveraging the NIST Cybersecurity Framework 2.0, you can establish a comprehensive, flexible, and strategic approach to building cyber resilience.

The framework's expanded scope and emphasis on governance integrate cybersecurity into the fabric of enterprise risk management, elevating its importance to a strategic level. Through assessment, alignment, strategy development, and proactive engagement, you can lay the groundwork for a resilient cybersecurity posture.

At UncommonX, our mission is to put enterprises of all sizes on the right path to cyber resilience. For more information on our Asset Discovery and Management and comprehensive Relative Risk Rating dashboards that can help you create a more resilient connected environment, contact us today at hello@uncommonx.com.

About the Author

Rich Pasewark — CEO, Board Director — Rich brings over 20 years of experience as an executive leader within the technology space with a core focus of aligning product, market requirements, and customer experience to define, implement and execute the company's macro strategy.

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