5 Questions to Ask When Developing a Cybersecurity and Compliance Plan

by Hannah Grace Holladay / August 8th, 2022

Last year, tens of billions of records were breached and tens of thousands of businesses suffered ransomware attacks. Every company operating in this dangerous environment should have a cybersecurity plan for keeping company and customer data safe—especially data within the scope of information security regulations and standards.  

A cybersecurity plan outlines the policies and procedures a business considers essential to maintaining security and regulatory compliance. It is a written document that results from a comprehensive survey of the company’s risks and the actions it intends to take to mitigate them. 

For example, a business that relies on third-party software tools and libraries may be at risk from code vulnerabilities if they allow software to become outdated. One component of a cybersecurity and security compliance plan would outline how the business intends to mitigate that risk with patch management or update procedures. 

 In this article, we’ll detail the 5 most important questions you should ask when developing a cybersecurity and compliance plan so you can make sure your business is prepared to face today’s threats confidently.  

1. Which Data and Infrastructure Assets Does the Plan Cover?

A cybersecurity plan can only be effective if it accounts for all the business’s security risks. But a business can’t understand those risks unless it knows which data it stores, how sensitive it is, how it is stored and processed, and potential breach scenarios. 

Information gathering is often one of the most challenging steps of preparing for a cybersecurity plan. Many businesses do not have complete insight into data storage and processing, especially if it has previously been managed on an unplanned ad-hoc basis. IT professionals often find it helpful to follow a templated discovery procedure like the Data Protection Impact Assessment created by GDPR.

2. Do We Need a Professional Security Risk Assessment?

One of the first questions you should ask before creating a cybersecurity plan is: Do we have adequate internal security and compliance expertise? If the answer is no, you may want to consider hiring an expert third party to carry out a comprehensive information security  risk assessment

A professional risk assessor examines your IT environment and practices to identify potential risks. A risk assessment is typically conducted under the guidance of a recognized framework like the NIST Special Publication 800-30. It results in a report with the information you need to create an effective cybersecurity plan.  To receive guidance on the effectiveness of your business’ risk assessment, upload your risk assessment here  to receive a free analysis of your risk assessment by a KirkpatrickPrice risk expert. 

3. What Are the Relevant Information Security Laws, Regulations, and Standards?

Many businesses that handle sensitive data are required to comply with regulatory frameworks and may choose to comply with information security standards. These regulations and standards should shape their cybersecurity plans. 

Regulatory frameworks may include:

  • PCI DSS for businesses handling credit card data
  • HIPAA for businesses handling sensitive healthcare data
  • GDPR for businesses that operate in the EU
  • FERPA for educational information and records
  • FISMA for businesses interacting with government information and assets

Information security  standards may include:

  • SOC 1 and SOC 2
  • ISO 27001
  • Cloud security standards

Businesses should also consider a compliance audit to ensure they comply with relevant frameworks and standards. 

4. Who Is Responsible for Implementation, Monitoring and Incident Response?

Assigning security responsibilities is a crucial aspect of developing a cybersecurity plan. Security policies must be implemented as procedures and processes that are the responsibility of managers and employees. If no one is responsible, then a cybersecurity plan is a worthless piece of paper. 

For a plan to be implemented, it must have executive support from the company’s leadership. In larger companies, that often takes the form of a Chief Security Officer (CSO) or Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). They ensure that plans and policies are turned into procedures and controls overseen by competent managers and employees throughout the business. 

5. Do Employees Have the Knowledge They Need to Comply?

A cybersecurity plan is a great starting point, but information security is more than policies and procedures. People play a critical role—over 85% of security incidents involve a human element. To successfully implement a security plan, you must ensure employees have the information and the security awareness training they need to do the right thing. 

Check out our recent article on building a positive security culture for your business to learn more about how you can set your employees up for cybersecurity success. 

KirkpatrickPrice Helps Businesses to Create and Audit Their Cybersecurity Plan

KirkpatrickPrice’s team of cybersecurity and risk experts can help your business to achieve its security and compliance goals. We offer a comprehensive range of security services that include:

Contact an information security specialist today to learn more about how we can help you.