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In PwC’s 2023 Global Risk Survey, 35% of Australian leaders reported cyber threats as the top risk to their organisation. They ranked it above concerns such as inflation, other digital issues, and geopolitical changes. This underscores the trend we have seen where more leaders have become involved with understanding and addressing current threats to prepare the business for future challenges.

So, how can you steer the organisation’s strategy in the right direction? Here are seven key considerations for understanding risk and implementing compliance requirements.

What do Australian leaders see as the top risks for their organisations?

What do Australian leaders see as the top risks for their organisations?

Source: PwC.

1. Understand the risks to your organisation

Understanding the specific risks to your organisation is a key component of effective risk and compliance initiatives. By thoroughly assessing and quantifying the potential impact of each risk on business operations, your organisation can develop a more targeted and strategic approach to risk management.

To understand risks, you must first identify those which pose the greatest threat to critical functions and prioritise them accordingly. By first addressing risks most likely to harm your organisation, you can optimise resources for maximum impact rather than focusing on everything all at once with minimal returns.

Alignment with business goals and cyber security objectives

2. Alignment with business goals and cyber security objectives 

Your risk and compliance strategy must align with the business goals and cyber security objectives. For example, any penetration testing conducted should strategically focus on vulnerabilities that could impact critical business operations. Focusing your efforts on key operational assets ensures that cyber security initiatives target the highest risks first.

3. Involve stakeholders with risk and compliance initiatives

Effective communication plans inform all relevant parties with the goal of investing stakeholders in the risk and compliance strategy.

Your organisation should appropriately modify any documentation for each audience; the board will not want highly technical documentation and will need plans focusing on the high-level strategy and business impact. In contrast, an IT team will require more detailed technical reports. 

Reporting also ties into aligning risk and compliance with the business’ strategy; identifying key stakeholders and establishing transparent communication makes it easier to ensure your security initiatives align with organisational objectives.

Understand legal and regulatory requirements

4. Understand legal and regulatory requirements

Your organisation must take a proactive approach to avoid legal issues and ensure full compliance with industry standards. For example, the NIST CSF 2.0 specifies that even a breach within your third parties could create potential legal and regulatory problems for your business, so your risk and compliance efforts must account for these. Compliance efforts should be more than routine checks; they should proactively strengthen your cyber security posture. Any evidence you can demonstrate for meeting these requirements can reduce legal repercussions should your business experience an attack.

5. Bring on the right expertise for your team

Improving resilience through risk and compliance management requires the right expertise. This involves understanding and addressing vulnerabilities, aligning security measures with organisational and regulatory needs, and implementing effective strategies. 

While internal teams get you on the right track, supplementing them with a managed services partner enhances these efforts. This combination of internal expertise and managed services support strengthens the overall cyber security framework, ensuring a robust and efficient approach to risk and compliance.

6. Testing your IT architecture for vulnerabilities

In their Cyber Threat Report for 2022-2023, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) reported a 20% increase in publicly reported common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) for Australian organisations. Penetration testing is one method of uncovering risks so that you know what to target. Any tests should have a clear scope, methods, and deadlines to maintain focus and relevance to the specific risks to your organisation. Identifying key threat vectors aligns testing with the organisation’s risk profile, directly informing compliance efforts. 

7. Develop in-depth reporting

In-depth reporting is critical to maintaining cyber security risk and compliance initiatives. Reporting from regular testing enables you to understand gaps in your strategy and controls to maintain compliance with industry standards. Reports should be more than a list of vulnerabilities; they must focus on data relevant to your organisation’s specific concerns and provide a strategic plan to address these.

Develop in-depth reporting

Conclusion

When developing a risk and compliance strategy, you should align it with the business goals and cyber security objectives. Focusing on critical vulnerabilities through strategic penetration testing optimises resource use and strengthens security. Clear communication with stakeholders aligns these strategies with organisational objectives and ensures you remain aligned with legal and regulatory requirements.

Combining internal expertise with managed services enhances the capabilities to test, plan and execute risk and compliance initiatives. With the right reporting, leadership and security teams can collaborate on strategic decisions that boost the organisation’s overall cyber security posture.

Prepare for a penetration test with our checklist

Our pre-engagement checklist is more than a preparation tool; it provides strategic alignment between your cyber security strategy and your pen testing provider. It guides you towards a penetration test that delivers actionable insights and enhances cyber defences. We collaborate with you to improve compliance and ensure you have the right documentation and reporting.

With recon, you get penetration tests that surpass standard vulnerability scans, offering a customised, effective strategy to bolster your cyber security. Visit our website to download our Penetration Testing Checklist.

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