Holistic cyber security: stay locked down, yet liberated

Security is critical to running a business. In our experience, a holistic approach to cyber security allows you to seamlessly integrate safeguards into complex and interconnected systems without impacting productivity. You need to strike the perfect balance between secure systems and agile working practices. Here’s how.


What do we mean by holistic cyber security?

Simply put, holistic cyber security takes everything into the equation. Not just the data and systems you must secure, but how users should interact with them to be as productive as possible, and how making a change to IT security will impact their working day.

It takes into account disaster recovery scenarios, data breach responses, and device management protocols from the perspective of business continuity as well as data security. Holistic cyber security also considers the future – where your business is going, and what potential challenges you must tackle as you scale.

A holistic approach to cyber security may involve processes such as:

  1. Identifying vulnerabilities in your IT infrastructure using system penetration

  2. Consulting with key stakeholders to improve known security flaws

  3. Training employees on current and evolving trends in security

  4. Consulting with teams to understand how they work, how they want to work, and how they can do so more securely

  5. Providing support for change management to help users adapt to new security processes

  6. Reviewing compliance with GDPR

  7. Taking steps to achieve the Cyber Essentials certification

  8. Advise on long term accreditation, such as ISO 14001 and 27001


Why is holistic cyber security important?

Keeping a business secure using a metaphorical lock and key isn’t enough anymore. We work in a complex digital landscape of increasingly sophisticated threats and risks. A holistic approach to cyber security takes every factor into consideration, including:

  1. Protecting people and processes

  2. Improving threat detection and response

  3. Building a more secure business ecosystem


Holistic cyber security protects people and processes

When business owners think about cyber security, it’s easy go down a rabbit hole of technology and security protocols without considering the wider impact. This can lead to situations where you put so many barriers in place, it makes doing simple tasks a time-consuming challenge. Or, you pour your energy in to one aspect of cyber security, without first prioritising your risk and potential ROI.

No one likes being told that they can’t do something and when your cyber security doesn’t take into account your business processes, that’s what it can feel like. A holistic approach to cyber security takes your processes into account and balances risk against the need to keep your business running smoothly.

Gartner states that humans are the chief cause of security incidents. And this doesn’t just mean the non-IT-savvy members of your business. It also means the teams responsible for managing every aspect of IT, include cyber security. Busy people make mistakes and when IT people make mistakes, it can be all the more costly. A holistic approach to cyber security considers the human factor, providing training and support for the people that need it most.


Improve threat detection and response

Being secure is only piece of the cyber security puzzle. Detection and recovery processes bookend a holistic cyber security approach, giving businesses the ability to minimise the impact of data breaches.

The philosophy that underpins this approach is that in today’s cyber security landscape, prevention isn’t a realistic goal. There are too many threats and every business is a target – it’s not a question of ‘if’, but ‘when’. A holistic approach to cyber security offers a proactive solution for businesses in what may look like a bleak reality. But with effective processes in place, you can maintain control over your risks and threats.


Build a better supply chain

A holistic approach to cyber security recognises that your business doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You operate as part of an interconnected ecosystem of supply chains, service providers, and customers. And while you can’t directly improve other people’s cyber security, you can put safeguards in place that encourage others to be more secure.

This can include provisions such as:

  • Updating vendor contracts to make Cyber Essentials certifications essential

  • Building early warning workflows that alert partner businesses to detected threats and breaches

  • Encouraging knowledge sharing between key stakeholders

Holistic cyber security helps you do your bit to improve your supply chain security and thus, improve your own security. It also helps you show customers, vendors, and suppliers that you’re proactive about cyber security, improving your reputation as a secure and conscientious business.


Cyber security is all about the big picture

In the past, cyber security was just another IT service. IT set the password expiration date, encrypted data, put up a firewall and that was basically it. You keep your data in and the hackers out.

But today, threats are more sophisticated and business IT has grown in size, complexity, and interconnectedness. So now, not only are the wolves always circling, but sometimes the threat comes from within. A holistic approach to cyber security gives you a more agile and inclusive framework to security that allows you to manage risk, limit the impact of data breaches, and keep your people and processes running smoothly.