3 Reasons A Framework Is Essential to Your Cybersecurity (How to Know vs. Hope)

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Updated July 2022  

Just like builders use floor plans and home cooks use recipes, best-in-class cybersecurity professionals and managed service providers (MSPs) follow a security framework. A multifunctional framework is everything from a starting point to a roadmap to an assessment tool.  

So, what exactly is a framework? Theoretically, it’s the map you should use to guide your ongoing cybersecurity journey. In more literal terms, it’s a series of policies and procedures that have been tested, documented, and formalized and are widely accepted as an industry standard.  

Our Chief Technology Officer, Brandon Nohr, explains it this way: “If you’re not using a framework, you’re just hoping you’re paying attention to the right things and getting what you need. Using a framework can increase your confidence and move you from the ‘hope’ stage to the ‘know’ stage.”  

For the uninitiated – or those new to cybersecurity – it can be daunting to discover that there’s more than one valid cybersecurity framework. The most commonly used frameworks are CIS, NIST, HISTRUST, ISO, and COBIT. But before you wade into that alphabet soup of acronyms, know that the exact framework your company or MSP uses isn’t the most important consideration. Instead, focus on whether they use one at all. 

In fact, if you’re in the market for a MSP, an excellent screening question is to ask them is which cybersecurity framework they use. If they don’t have one, it’s a huge red flag.  

“If you don’t have a framework, you’re just guessing,” Nohr cautions. He adds that it’s important to remember that cybersecurity is not a product you can buy off a shelf or a one-time site visit or assessment. A robust cybersecurity program is ongoing and evolving, and the framework you follow can and will evolve and update alongside it to keep pace with emerging threats and technologies.  

Now that you have an overview of what constitutes a cybersecurity framework, let’s explore three reasons why it helps you answer the question on every business owner’s mind: “am I doing enough from a cybersecurity standpoint to protect my business?”

Cybersecurity frameworks move you beyond the bare minimum of compliance 

In short, regulatory compliance doesn’t equal security. At best, “it’s a check box in some sort of regulation, and that doesn’t mean you have a good security practice. It just means that this one thing is checked off,” Nohr says. While compliance regulations like HIPAA, for example, are meant to protect patient privacy, they don’t address the overarching needs of an organization’s entire cybersecurity program.  

While you might need to adhere to specific compliance regulations or even an industry-specific set of protocols, there is a way to make sure you’re not having to manage multiple frameworks to meet various client and industry standards, and that is by employing the Center for Internet Security (CIS) framework.  

CIS is the framework SUCCESS uses in-house, as well as the framework we use for our clients’ cybersecurity. It’s highly adaptable and can be overlapped with other industry-specific frameworks.  

“The framework we like is CIS controls, which is set in order of priority,” Nohr says. “That means it shows you not only where to start but also where to go next.” 

Cybersecurity frameworks identify security gaps 

Using a framework is a great way to spot any weak points in your cybersecurity efforts, whether you:   

  • Are new to cybersecurity 
  • Want to evaluate the efficacy of your new program 
  • Need to update your approach for the new hybrid workplace 

 When implementing a CIS framework for our clients, SUCCESS starts with a CIS Controls Assessment. “This assessment helps identify what you’re doing now and how that compares to the CIS framework,” Nohr says. “Your gaps will be apparent because they’re the steps you’re not currently taking.”

 In this way, a framework serves as an excellent starting point for those who are just getting started in cybersecurity and those who are further along.  

Cybersecurity frameworks help you benchmark your progress 

Because cybersecurity is a journey, you’re never really finished with this work. “When you look at cybersecurity as a destination, you make yourself more vulnerable, Nohr says. “How can you tell if you’re making progress or moving the needle?” 

The CIS framework is based on priority and organized by implementation groups. Instead of following a framework process that moves linearly from steps A through Z, CIS helps business owners and MSPs prioritize which cybersecurity measures make the most sense for their organization.  

Companies don’t always need to implement every part of the framework. “We may decide that a certain control that the framework is recommending just doesn’t fit your business, and you choose not to implement it, says Nohr. “But at least it’s a conscious discussion and choice, to say no – that one doesn’t make sense for us.’” 

Under the CIS framework, implementation groups are broken up into Basic, Foundational, and Organizational, representing a spectrum of security practices that can be tailored to your resources and specific needs.  

Nohr emphasizes that cybersecurity is not a one-and-done. Instead, like physical fitness, it takes maintenance and upkeep.   

“Cybersecurity is a discipline and something you have to work at day in and day out, just like fitness,” Nohr says. “If you don’t have a plan you’re consistently executing against, you’ll never achieve your goal.”  

Are you ready for your cybersecurity efforts to achieve peak fitness? Then it’s time to make sure you have a security framework like CIS in place. Like a dedicated personal trainer, SUCCESS can help you get started and stay motivated, so your cybersecurity strategies keep giving you optimum performance.  

Learn more about SUCCESS’s industry-leading cybersecurity practices.