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How Can I Know if Our IT Is Really Secure?

In today’s digital landscape, safeguarding your company’s data is more critical than ever. As a business leader, it can be challenging to gauge the effectiveness of your IT security if you lack technical expertise. Relying solely on your IT team’s assurance that “everything is okay” is not enough. You need a structured IT security framework to objectively measure your security posture.

Security frameworks are collections of best practices compiled by independent experts. Your IT team should adhere to a framework and provide regular updates on how well your organization aligns with these standards. Two predominant frameworks in the industry are the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (NIST-CSF) and the CIS Controls. Let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of each to determine which is best for your business.

What is NIST-CSF?
The National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework (NIST-CSF) is a robust set of standards designed to help organizations improve their ability to prevent, detect, and respond to cyber threats. NIST-CSF employs a risk-based approach, offering flexible guidelines and practices that can be tailored to your industry, risk tolerance, and budget. This adaptability makes NIST-CSF a descriptive framework that requires your IT team to interpret and implement it according to your specific needs.

What are the CIS Controls?
The CIS Controls are a set of approximately 150 prioritized best practices created by the Center for Internet Security, a nonprofit organization. These controls focus on mitigating threats by providing clear, prescriptive standards for securing your environment. They are organized into “implementation groups” that allow companies to enhance their IT security in manageable phases.

Which Framework is Right for You?
When choosing a security framework, one crucial factor is the size of your business. NIST-CSF’s complexity makes it ideal for larger organizations with over 500 employees or those subject to strict regulations. Smaller businesses might find NIST-CSF overwhelming due to its lack of specific recommendations. In contrast, the CIS Controls are action-oriented and easy to understand, making them more suitable for smaller companies.

If your organization values flexibility, NIST-CSF may be the better option. Its risk-based approach allows for more interpretation and customization, depending on the capabilities of your IT team. However, the CIS Controls provide clear, black-and-white guidance, with less room for customization, which might be beneficial if your team prefers straightforward instructions.

Ultimately, the key is ensuring your IT team follows a framework and provides regular scorecards to inform you of your security status. Cyber threats are constantly evolving, and your IT environment is always changing, so a one-time assessment is insufficient. Your IT team should continuously evaluate your alignment with the framework and offer quarterly report cards with specific recommendations for improvement. This ongoing process ensures you always know where you stand with IT security.

TotalCareIT’s Framework
At TotalCareIT, we center our approach around the CIS Controls. We believe IT should drive business outcomes. Our Framework focuses on seven core business outcomes: Efficiency, Security, Continuity, Compliance, Leverage, Innovation, and Decision-Making. This framework demystifies IT management by providing clear metrics and a shared definition of success.

Each outcome lays the foundation for achieving higher-level goals. Efficiency, Security, Continuity, and Compliance reduce the risks associated with technology reliance. Leverage, Innovation, and Decision-Making maximize the productivity potential of technology.

Your IT systems should help you achieve business outcomes by improving productivity and reducing risk. Our Framework offers the structure and management necessary to foster a collaborative relationship with your IT team.

For any business leader wondering, "What is the most effective way to safeguard my business?" a consultation with TotalCareIT is the answer. Specializing in comprehensive IT security and support for small to mid-sized organizations, TotalCareIT ensures your operations run safely and efficiently, helping you meet your objectives without compromising security. Schedule a call with us today!