Integrating cybersecurity with your business strategy doesn’t have to be a difficult process. Whether you are in the early stages of establishing a business strategy or whether your business is re-assessing its long term goals, you can rely on these five practices as being the starting point of integrating cybersecurity with your business strategy.

1. Identify your business goals and aspirations
Clearly outline what the overall purpose of your business is. Evaluate the exact milestones you have set to recognize that purpose and try to view it from a different perspective. How does cybersecurity help or limit your goals? These are crucial considerations to seamless integration with business strategy initiatives.

2. Pinpoint areas of weakness in your cybersecurity hygiene
When you judge the risk throughout the business, C-level executives’ strengths deal with considering threats impacting financial risk, competitive changes, loss of key employees, shifts in the market, environmental factors and events and other disasters. We can also add cybersecurity to this list. It would be impertinent to assume that an IT department has covered and managed all threats. Executives must, instead, be on the lookout for the potential impact cybersecurity threats may have on their business strategies. Carrying out a risk analysis can help to identify vulnerabilities in your cybersecurity and risk-rank weakness that should be addressed first. There may even be a need to bring in a security expert to provide an unbiased assessment of your risk and give advice on how to remediate these findings to streamline all strategic initiatives.

3. Determine how your people, processes, and technology need to evolve
The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving. This means that you need to make sure that your employees, processes and technology are able to adapt to these changes swiftly. Humans are usually the main cause of security incidents, either due to ignorance or deceit. As a result, it is the responsibility of your business to ensure that all personnel are up-to-date regarding cyber threats that they face on a day-to-day basis. One method of doing this is conducting security awareness training annually. The same goes for your processes and technology, and how often should you update them to adhere to the best practices in information security. Maybe even conduct internal audits to validate the security of your processes and technology. Also, you should consider making investments in technology that will improve the cybersecurity of the business.

4. Implement a strategy for cybersecurity best practices
Once the key goals and aspirations are set in stone, it is important to assess the areas of weakness in your cybersecurity hygiene and look for ways people, processes and technology need to be enhanced. There should be a method in place to implement these five practices. Decide whether you will need a framework like NIST to guide your efforts. Or whether or not you will need an MSP or require more IT personnel. Maybe even consider if you need an independent, third-party firm to assess and validate your cybersecurity.

5. Leverage cybersecurity and compliance for success
Strategic planning is the basis of all that you do in a business. Cybersecurity and compliance are strategic initiatives that work as benchmarks for your business. It is crucial to create a cybersecurity mission and identify cybersecurity goals. Define all the required resources and monitor the progress to quantify success. There may be a need to train sales and marketing teams to communicate strategic differentiation in the market due to cybersecurity and compliance strengths. Some of the best businesses in the world have a dedicated cybersecurity page on their websites outlining exactly how cybersecurity serves as a strategic goal within their business.

In the end, cybersecurity should never be an afterthought or shied away from in the boardroom. It should be a proactive effort that is embedded within the business’ culture and strategic purpose.