Why a Security Posture Assessment is Critical for Modern Organizations

By Abhishek Bansal

In January 2023, the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) published the Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023. Some of its key findings include:

  • Many organizations struggle to articulate and quantify their cyber risks.
  • “How to address cyber risk” continues to remain a challenge for many enterprise leaders .
  • 43% of the report’s respondents believe that a catastrophic cyber event is likely to occur in the next two years and materially affect their firms.
  • Supply chain risk affects an organization’s overall cybersecurity risk.
  • As the complexity of an organization’s digital environment increases, its cybersecurity risk also increases.

The main takeaway from this report is that modern organizations must be more cognizant of their cyber risks and risk landscape. Only then can they take appropriate action to secure their assets and improve their cyber-resilience. And cyber-related cognizance, action, and resilience all have a common starting point: security posture assessment.

Your organization likely has a complex technical stack and digital supply chain that are vulnerable to many attack vectors, increasing the risk of a serious cyberattack or data breach.

But how big is this risk?

How prepared are you to deal with it?

Can you quantify your cybersecurity strength in terms of tools, processes, policies, and controls?

Are you confident in your ability to quickly recover from security events?

The only way to discover the answer to all these questions, and more importantly, to strengthen your security defenses, is to conduct a security posture assessment.

What is a Security Posture and Security Posture Assessment?

A strong security posture is the first and most important line of defense for an organization against malicious cyber adversaries. It refers to the collective security status of all the digital assets used in the firm – devices, applications, software, people, and so forth – and their ability to withstand cyberattacks. This ability depends on whether appropriate security tools, policies, and solutions are in place to prevent and respond to different kinds of attacks, including costly data breaches, devastating ransomware attacks, embarrassing social engineering attacks, wide-ranging supply chain attacks, and more.

But to strengthen this ability and thus their security posture, organizations first need to understand how strong or weak the posture currently is. Here’s where a security posture assessment comes in. A comprehensive security posture assessment can help them understand their cybersecurity strength and also evaluate their preparedness to react to and deal with cyberattacks in future.

So now the question is: does your organization need a security posture assessment?

Do You Need a Security Posture Assessment?

The WEF’s Global Risks Report 2023 surfaces the most critical risks that economies and societies all over the world will face over the next two years. You may be surprised to learn that along with expected risks like environmental damage and infectious diseases, the report also mentions “failure of cybersecurity measures” as a serious and constant concern in many countries. Such failures can be devastating to any firm, especially those that are facing high levels of cybersecurity risk.

Do any of these apply to your firm:

  • Numerous legacy tools and systems in the IT stack
  • Emerging technologies being added to legacy IT, increasing the size and complexity of the digital environment
  • Large volumes of data residing in different places and in different formats
  • A geographically-dispersed workforce or digital supply chain
  • Poor cybersecurity hygiene among human users resulting in security blind spots that may be exploited by threat actors
  • A highly opaque Shadow IT environment with a growing number of unauthorized and/or unsafe devices, software, mobile applications, etc. being used for official purposes

All of the above are risk factors that increase the size of an organization’s attack surface and make it more vulnerable to all kinds of cyberattacks, including malware and ransomware attacks, phishing, Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), supply chain attacks, and data theft. So, if any of these factors apply to your organization, you need to evaluate them thoroughly and find ways to mitigate them. Here’s where a security posture assessment will be very useful.

A detailed security posture assessment will enable your cybersecurity team and top leaders to enumerate the controls that are already in place and evaluate the effectiveness of each at reducing the firm’s cyber risk. In addition, it will allow them to:

  • Get better visibility into the firm’s attack surface and its various attack vectors
  • Surface the most critical cyber threats affecting business-critical assets
  • Understand the risks that may arise from third parties, hybrid IT environments, remote workers, bring your own device (BYOD) policies, and shadow IT
  • Assess and implement the necessary tools – including automated ones – to stay ahead of adversaries and strengthen cyber defenses
  • Determine what additional actions are needed to respond to and contain threats, and minimize potential damage

Wrap Up

Cyberattacks and data breaches are serious issues for organizations in every industry and country. According to a report by IBM, the global average cost of a breach in 2023 topped $4.45 million – an all-time high and 15% higher from just three years ago. Furthermore, 40% of breaches in 2023 resulted in the loss of data across multiple environments, 95% of studied organizations experienced multiple breaches, and threat actors have reduced the average time to complete ransomware attacks.

All these facts should tell you how important it is to maintain a strong security posture. And a strong posture starts by assessing your current situation in terms of attack vectors, asset inventory, and security controls, and then finding the gaps that may weaken your defenses. In other words, you need a security posture assessment. The sooner, the better.


Abhishek Bansal

Abhishek Bansal is an IEEE member and a thought leader in identity and access management (IAM), with over a decade of experience in the cybersecurity industry. He has held senior cybersecurity leadership positions at large enterprises and was a founding member of an IGAaaS-based cybersecurity startup. A recognized global leader in cybersecurity, angel investor, startup advisor, and subject matter expert in information security (Identity and Access Management, Identity Governance and Compliance), Abhishek has a rare ability to understand both the technical and business sides of the industry. Learn more about him on LinkedIn.

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