How to Establish a Cybersecurity Baseline That Works for Your Organization

cybersecurity baseline

A cybersecurity baseline is an invaluable set of information security standards for your organization. It helps you understand your security posture, identify security gaps, and meet cybersecurity regulations.

The most widely adopted cybersecurity baselines are those recommended by the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, the SANS Top 20 Critical Security Controls, and Shared Assessments (designed for third-party risk management). We covered the specifics of these frameworks in a previous blog.

While these baselines are a great starting point for defining security goals and improving security performance, cyber risk is relative and the risk you’re willing to accept may be different than those defined by these frameworks.

Let’s look at how you can establish a cybersecurity baseline that works for your unique risks, industry, and business.

1. Understand your current cybersecurity posture

The first step in establishing a cybersecurity baseline is understanding your current cybersecurity posture. But, as your digital infrastructure grows, understanding security risk, performance, and exposure gets exponentially more challenging. Security assessments have their place, but they’re time-consuming and only provide a point-in-time view into cyber risks. As a result, there’s a lot of uncertainty about where investments and resources must be allocated.

You need simple, quantifiable metrics that establish your organization’s baseline security performance—continuously and automatically. Bitsight Security Performance Management empowers you to:

  • Visualize your growing attack surface—on-premises, in the cloud, and across remote locations.
  • Dig deep into what’s working and what isn’t.
  • Monitor your security ratings.
  • Quickly and easily assess your risk exposure.
  • Model scenarios to predict your future state cybersecurity performance. 

With this baseline, you can justify resources, prioritize remediation, and track changes and improvements over time.

2. Compare your security performance against your peers

An effective way to understand your organization’s cybersecurity maturity (and improve it) is to compare it to that of similar organizations in your industry.

Benchmarking your security posture against your peers can provide a realistic cybersecurity baseline to aim towards. However, traditional cybersecurity tools don’t provide this level of analysis or insight. But with Bitsight Peer Analytics, you can easily and intuitively assess how your cybersecurity program is performing compared to your peers.

With Peer Analytics, you can:

  • Compare cybersecurity analytics against organizations of a similar size, industry, employee count, and resources. 
  • Better understand what standards of care are appropriate within your industry.
  • Identify what security targets you should strive to achieve, and where current security practices and controls fall short.
  • Create improvement plans and prioritize risk-reduction strategies.
  • Advocate for increased security resources. 
  • Report on progress and results more clearly and effectively.

For a real-world case study, discover how Cornerstone Building Brands uses Bitsight to benchmark security performance against peer organizations and improve its security posture.

3. Connect security performance to business and financial risks

Another important cybersecurity baseline is connecting how security performance is directly connected to financial performance and overall business risk.

For example, with Bitsight Financial Quantification, you can quickly and easily simulate your organization’s financial exposure across hundreds of thousands of cyber events, including ransomware, regulatory compliance issues, supply chain attacks, and more.

With this baseline, executives and the board can make informed decisions about which risks they are willing to accept, mitigate, or transfer—and where to focus security budget and resources. You can also demonstrate how that exposure changes as you invest in new security controls and resources.

4. Baseline your vendors’ security performance

Cyber incidents that originate from a vendor or third-party eclipse those caused by direct attacks. Today, 62 percent of network intrusions originate from a third-party, often from someone in your software supply chain.

To reduce that risk, you need to hold vendors accountable to a cybersecurity baseline. But what is an appropriate baseline, and how can you hold them to it without exhausting your resources?

For answers, check out this blog: How to Set a Cybersecurity Baseline for Your Vendors—and Hold Them to It.