Reviewing Your Information Security Program for 2023

by Tori Thurmond / April 5th, 2023

2023 may feel like it’s flying by already but there’s still time to make sure your information security program can overcome the current threat landscape. Each year, we often hear a lot of confusion and frustration about frameworks modifying their requirements, the cost of audits rising, the cost of pen tests rising, scopes getting larger, and testing being more difficult. There’s a reason for this – the threats are advancing. Your data and systems need more protection than they did in 2022 or 2021. When pricing, scope, or frequency of testing increases, here’s what we’re really asking you: Don’t you want more protection this year than you had last year? 

Annual Checklist for Your Information Security Program 

What are you going to do about the inevitable threats of 2023? How are you going to modify your information security and cybersecurity efforts to adapt to new requirements? In the ever-changing world of cybersecurity and compliance, it’s important to stay aware of what you can be doing to keep your organization as secure as possible. Here are a few areas to consider as you prepare to face today’s evolving threats confidently. 

Risk Assessment 

When was the last time you performed a risk assessment? Do you have your next one scheduled? A formal risk assessment should be conducted every year, and especially after any significant changes in your organization. A risk assessment is a proactive way that organizations can identify and assess organizational risk, getting ahead of current and future threats. 

Incident Response Plan 

IBM reports that when an organization’s incident response team extensively tests their incident response plan, the average organization saves $1.23 million when a data breach does occur. Testing is incredibly crucial to the success of an incident response plan and can be done through tabletop exercises or simulations. Make sure your organization has a plan for identifying and resolving any incidents that could threaten what you have worked so hard to build.  

Business Continuity Plan 

Just like incident response plans, business continuity plans (BCP) must be tested to ensure they actually work. There’s no telling when an event will occur that might affect the way your business runs whether it be an extreme disaster that would require a disaster recovery plan (DRP) or something less threatening, like an important employee leaving the organization. Your organization should be prepared to keep going no matter what threatens to stop it. Make sure to consider and practice different scenarios on a regular basis each year so your business can become unstoppable. Implementing an effective BCP can be overwhelming, so make sure you partner with experts who can help you develop your security program. 

Policy Review and Acknowledgement 

What good are your policies doing if they aren’t being updated or followed? Because of the number of policies your organization is required to have and their importance not only day-to-day but also during an audit, your policies and employee handbook should be reviewed and updated annually. After those updates, you should require employee acknowledgement to ensure that all changes are communicated to your personnel. Simply having security policies is not enough. You need to ensure that your policies and procedures are being followed to keep any threats and vulnerabilities at bay.  

Security Awareness Training 

It’s hard to admit, but employees are the weakest link when it comes to information security and privacy – no matter what department they are in or how high they are on the org chart. How will you hold them accountable if you don’t require annual security awareness training? At a minimum, this training should cover what your employees encounter on a day-to-day basis, like weak passwords, what a phishing email looks like, social engineering examples, and physical security policies. These are topics that members of your organization may think they are following procedures on but have forgotten or aren’t familiar with the latest best practices. Not only is security awareness training encouraged but some frameworks require it. Make sure your entire organization is committed to security and compliance.  

Security Automation Tools 

Organizations that do not utilize security tools with incorporated automation will experience 95% higher data breach costs than organizations that do, according to IBM. While you can’t leave your organization’s security and compliance to automation alone, automation can help you stay organized and keep you on track to receiving the assurance you deserve. With all the new technology available to identify and contain an attack, it’s worth a conversation about which tools could be valuable for your organization. The Online Audit Manager is a compliance tool that combines automation and live, human help to deliver a quality experience from audit prep to final report.  

Penetration Testing 

Investing in pen testing is one way to show clients, prospects, and competitors that you are willing to take every step necessary to safeguard the data that has been entrusted to you. We know that allowing someone to ethically hack your environment can feel scary, but at KirkpatrickPrice, we hire trusted experts that will help you identify any vulnerabilities before threat actors can.  

Information Security or Privacy Audits 

Do any of your upcoming deals rely on a SOC 2 report? Have you taken on new clients that require HIPAA compliance from you? Are your competitors going through privacy audits? These are all things to consider as you plan how your information security program needs to adapt each year. Making sure you’re ready to complete any and all of the audits your organization needs to be successful can feel intimidating, whether it’s your first time completing an audit or you’ve completed many audits before. Partner with a qualified firm who cares about your compliance goals to allow you to give and receive the assurance you deserve.  

Stay Ready with KirkpatrickPrice 

The global average cost of a data breach in 2022 landed at $4.35 million. In 2023, we expect to see that cost rise just as it has year after year. Don’t fall victim to financial and reputational damage of new threats, hackers, malicious insiders, and internal weaknesses this year. Performing an annual risk assessment, updating and testing your incident response and business continuity plans, performing policy review, requiring security awareness training, and determining which tools, pen tests, and audits you need will help defend your organization. Let’s work together to create and maintain the best information security program for your organization. 

More Information Security Resources

How to Hire a CPA Firm for Information Security Audits

What Type of Compliance is Right for You?

About the Author

Tori Thurmond

Tori Thurmond has degrees in both professional and creative writing. She has over five years of copywriting experience and enjoys making difficult topics, like cybersecurity compliance, accessible to all. Since starting at KirkpatrickPrice in 2022, she's earned her CC certification from (ISC)2 which has aided her ability to contribute to the company culture of educating, empowering, and inspiring KirkpatrickPrice's clients and team members.