Designing a cyber-security strategy for your business

Stay ahead of evolving cyber-threats with a plan for a secure digital future.

Designing a cyber-security strategy for your business

Stay ahead of evolving cyber-threats with a plan for a secure digital future.

Businesses are always under pressure. The need to constantly evolve – and to digitally transform is a hot topic for many at the moment. And though the digital world brings many benefits, it also comes with risks. Cyber-crime is evolving too. Let’s take a look and help you plan for your cyber-secure future.

In our November 2019 survey, nearly two-thirds (64%) of businesses said they were either “not at all concerned” or only “moderately concerned” about a cyber-breach. And that’s worrying.

What comes to mind when you think of a cyber-breach? A hacker, sitting alone in their dark bedroom, numbers and lights flashing on the screen as they smash your digital defences down? While some cyber-crime may loosely take this form, the reality is that cyber-crime can be far more wide-ranging.

Cyber-criminals are increasingly using AI and machine learning. They are cleverly targeting employees and they can capitalise on a number of weaknesses in your network. So what can be done to tackle this?

Effective cyber-security strategies go much further than passwords and two-step authentication. They need to be woven into the culture of a business. And they should seamlessly align with the wider commercial strategy.

To make an action plan that really works, everybody in the business needs to be on board. They should fully understand that cybercrime needs to be taken seriously. With the introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in March 2018 – and the hefty fines that can be handed out for non-compliance – not only could a company’s reputation be damaged, but the monetary cost could be huge.

It’s cheaper and easier to put the time and effort in now, than it would to clean up a data breach mess later. Let’s put some plans in place.

Safeguard your business with a solid cyber-security plan

Let’s delve into the essentials:

Establish a tailored cyber-security framework

Craft a cybersecurity strategy that aligns seamlessly with your business

Identify and prioritize risks
No business is immune to cyber breaches. The key is to identify risks and prioritize them strategically. By understanding potential vulnerabilities, you empower your business to face challenges head-on. So be prepared.

Communicate digital responsibilities clearly
It’s essential to rollout cyber-security training programmes to ensure your employees know how to keep your business safe.

Maintain a comprehensive inventory
Make sure they’re patched and updated often to keep them in good working order. You can do this by having regular audits to check everything is running smoothly.

By creating a security strategy around these key points, you’ll reduce your chances of being maliciously attacked. Let’s take a look at the steps in more detail.

Identify and prioritise

Cyber-attacks are everywhere; for businesses and consumers alike. But there are a few ways to tackle the attack.

Depending on how you define your network, managed firewalls are one way to protect your ever-growing network – if remote workers need access to on-premises business resources, then a remote access function of a firewall becomes valuable.

Malware protection boosts your defences against malicious software that can be used to infiltrate your devices.

A backup service can support rapid recovery if you have been attacked.

While some threats apply to all businesses, it’s important to fully understand which specific threats are the biggest risk to you. Chat with your key stakeholders, get a clear picture of each type of breach, and what it could spell for your business. How likely is a particular breach? What impact would it have on the business?

One impact could be huge – but very unlikely to happen. Another could be lower impact but is more likely to hit your business. Prioritise these risks and map out the measures needed to handle them.

Be clear on responsibilities and training needs

Remember the days when any kind of cyber-security question would be met with: “Ask the IT team. That’s their domain.” Things have changed. As workplaces evolve, so do cyber attacks. Cyber-security isn’t just for the security team to worry about anymore. 

Everyone must understand the role they play in safeguarding the company. But it’s also down to leadership. You need to make sure your cyber-security strategy addresses any skills/knowledge gaps in your team. And once those conversations are flowing, make sure your security policies are explained. Things like secure file-sharing and regular password updates are important, and once explained, will help stop data breaches.

Carry out regular audits

Having a cyber-security strategy is only the start. Once it’s in place, it needs to be constantly reviewed to stay ahead of the cyber-criminals.

And it’s not just your strategy you need to think about. Just because your cyber-security is solid, who’s to say that your suppliers and partners have the same high standards? As of 2020, only 15% of businesses in the UK had ever checked out the cyber-security risks presented by their suppliers. And if their cyber-security is bad, that could put your business at risk.

How to future-proof your cyber-security strategy

A lot of time, effort, money and expertise goes into developing a cyber-security strategy. So, it needs to stand the test of time. When making your plan, always think towards the future.

Stay abreast of emerging cyber threats

Cyber-criminals are notoriously adaptable. Once a scam’s run its course, it’s not long before a new one is concocted. The Government’s Cyber-security Breaches 2020 Survey found the number of businesses encountering phishing attacks had increased from 72% in 2017 to 86% in 2020.

With this increase in phishing also comes an increase in successful ransomware attacks driving a need for strong antivirus and endpoint protection. It goes to show that the picture is ever-changing, and businesses must be fully up to speed.

Pressure test your strategy

Hopefully, your cyber-security strategy will be so robust, you’ll never need to report a breach. But you won’t know until it’s put to the test.

Consider employing an ethical hacker to simulate a phishing attack. How will your employees handle it? Could they identify a sophisticated scam as they go about their work? “Real-world training” of this nature can identify skills gaps and help to set a longer-term training agenda.

Build and maintain a cyber-security maturity matrix

As the tech world evolves and work dynamics follow, it’s easy for your strategy to become outdated. Having a cyber-security maturity matrix that you update regularly, perhaps even quarterly, allows you to see how you’re progressing over a longer period.

The matrix should include things like:

  • how advanced, up-to-date and secure your tech stack is
  • how robust your password processes are
  • where your employees sit on the cyber-security knowledge scale
  • emerging risks – e.g. has there been a big churn in staff leaving and arriving?


When piecing together a cyber-security maturity model, you need to have a clear view of what good looks like. This is why regular contact with key stakeholders is crucial. The cyber-security Breaches 2020 Survey suggested that board members have been more engaged with cyber-defence strategies in the past five years. This can only be a good thing, as companies continue to weave cyber-security into the fabric of their organisation.