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How Your Business Could Benefit From A National Cybersecurity Strategy

The internet is an incredible tool. It’s changed the way we work, learn, and even interact with our friends and family. It’s made our lives frictionless in ways we never thought possible. And this change has only intensified in the throes of a pandemic. Sure—it hasn’t been great sitting at home for the better part of two years. But, there’s a silver lining to once-in-a-generation events like the one we’re all experiencing. These events agitate the status quo. And they trigger unanticipated changes—usually good and sometimes not-so-good. If you think hard enough, you’ll know a brick-and-mortar business that had to pivot online among the turmoil of restrictions and lockdowns. And it was a welcomed change. As our lives transition further into the digital world, it’s important—as individuals and as businesses—to develop strategies to protect ourselves from cyber threats. In this article, we’ll briefly unpack:
  1. the concepts and recommendations discussed in Microsoft’s policy paper: Developing a National Strategy for Cybersecurity; and
  2. how your business could improve its cybersecurity by considering the recommendations in this paper.

What is cybersecurity?

As described by our learned friends over at Microsoft, ‘cybersecurity, also known as digital security, is the practice of protecting your digital information, devices, and assets’ from cyber attacks. It’s an umbrella term for information security, security risk management, and more. The consequences of cyber threats should not be understated. Microsoft observes that there are ‘four key cyber threats worldwide: cybercrime, economic espionage, military espionage, and cyber conflict’. Think identity theft. Think extortion attempts. Think complete dismantlement of critical IT infrastructure.

Why a national cybersecurity strategy? What’s a national cybersecurity strategy?

While getting your identity stolen may seem like the end of the world at an individual level (and it certainly is), cyber threats aren’t limited to just you and me. Cyber attacks flow from more complex threats at the national level. And, to combat these threats, all nations need to develop a robust set of rules, guidelines, and processes—cue, a national cybersecurity strategy. So, a national cybersecurity strategy is effectively a top-down approach to cybersecurity that applies to everyone from governments and businesses to individual citizens. It ‘outlines a vision and articulates priorities, principles, and approaches to understanding and managing risks at the national level’. And it’s all about sharing the responsibility. You can learn more about Australia’s Cybersecurity Strategy here, which involves $1.67 billion in investment over ten years.

Ok. But what makes a successful national strategy?

Well, Microsoft reveals that there are three critical qualities to a successful national strategy:

  1. They sit within ‘living’ documents developed in collaboration with major public and private stakeholders. In other words, the strategy is constantly changing to adapt to the developing digital landscape.
  2. ‘They are based on clearly articulated principles that reflect societal values, traditions, and legal principles.’ Each nation has a different culture, and a national strategy should consider this.
  3. They are based on a risk-management approach, which embraces both risk mitigation and risk acceptance.

And here are some of the things that a national strategy can do:

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Microsoft’s six foundational principles for a national cybersecurity strategy

As described earlier in this article, a national strategy must, at its core, be unique to the nation to which it belongs. To develop a bespoke strategy, Microsoft recommends using the following foundational principles as the base for any national strategy:

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(Source: Microsoft’s Developing a National Strategy for Cybersecurity)

Cascading from these principles are several recommendations from Microsoft. To learn more about these recommendations, you should read Microsoft’s policy paper (here). Here are a few of the standouts:
  1. Develop a clear structure for assessing and managing risk across the strategy
  2. Establish both critical and minimum security baselines
  3. Recognise a role for continuous monitoring of systems and protection of data
  4. Building Incident Response Capabilities
  5. Workforce training

Alright. This is great. But what does it all mean for my business?

Microsoft believes that every country should have a national cybersecurity strategy. And we agree. What’s more, every business should have its own national cybersecurity strategy, except that the nation in your case, is your business itself. Boom.

Applying Microsoft’s six foundational principles to your business’s cybersecurity strategy should help build a robust strategy that will keep your business safe from people looking to exploit the vulnerabilities of the internet. While it may not eliminate all risks, it will help cement the processes that will enable you to continue to run a successful business.

If you want some guidance on how to develop your own cybersecurity strategy, give us a call. We’re always happy to audit and improve your cybersecurity systems.