What is a Cybersecurity Maturity Assessment?

April 7, 2024

What is a Cybersecurity Maturity Assessment?

With each new year comes new and evolving cybersecurity threats. And as new vulnerabilities, malware variants, and attack vectors emerge, so must our internal planning, readiness, and responses at an organizational level.

In other words, if attackers are innovating and becoming smarter, so must we. There’s no such thing as being neutral. Every organization is either becoming more secure or less secure with each passing month.

A cybersecurity maturity assessment plays a vital role in helping you understand how prepared you are. Unlike a cyber risk assessment, however, a cybersecurity maturity assessment helps you build and maintain your resilience over time.

What is a Cybersecurity Maturity Assessment?

Some organizations think they know what a cybersecurity maturity assessment is, but they’re really just scheduling a meeting, discussing some of the immediate threats they face, and then moving on with other tasks.

​​It’s important to note that a cybersecurity maturity assessment isn’t a one-time evaluation – it’s an ongoing, systematic process. It involves evaluating an organization’s cybersecurity technologies, processes, and people. This process goes beyond surface-level checks and dives into the depth of your organization’s security measures and the skills of its employees, aiming to assess its maturity level in handling potential cyber risks.

If cybersecurity is something that’s a relatively new emphasis for you and your organization, you might be wondering why you need to invest time and resources in assessing cybersecurity maturity. And it’s a good question to ask.

Simply put, it’s about evaluating your organizations’ overall cybersecurity capabilities and readiness, which will help you understand where your company stands amidst an ever-evolving threat landscape. By assessing your cybersecurity stance, you can gain insights into strengths and areas that need improvement. This assessment acts as a compass, guiding you toward enhancing security measures, reducing potential risks, and building resilience over time.

Key Components of a Cybersecurity Maturity Assessment

Cyber threats are dynamic and multi-faceted, ranging from malware attacks to sophisticated phishing attempts. Assessing cybersecurity maturity isn’t just about measuring how well an organization can fend off attacks – it’s about evaluating overall preparedness in detecting threats, defense capabilities in mitigating the impact of potential breaches, and resilience in responding to and recovering from incidents.

Here are some of the cyber threats that organizations face:

  • Sophisticated ransomware. Hackers have been quietly moving away from data encryption and gravitating toward stealing data and extorting a ransom. As you might anticipate, by leveraging AI capabilities, this gets very messy very quickly. From a leverage standpoint, businesses have virtually no bargaining power in these instances.
  • Supply chain. There have been some major (and very public) attacks recently, including the much-publicized SolarWinds hack that showed just how lethal a supply chain attack can be. This should serve as a wakeup call to everyone.
  • Multi-vector attacks. As the name suggests, a multi-vector attack combines a variety of techniques and different attack vectors into a single campaign. You can think of it as attacking from multiple angles. In doing so, very few organizations have the resources or focus to be able to detect and contain each attack at the same time. This increases the probability of success for the bad actor.

We’re just scratching the surface with the three threats highlighted above. The point is that businesses have to evolve their security measures and strategies to both defend against such threats and to effectively respond and recover in the event of a cyberattack.

Let’s explore a breakdown of what a cybersecurity maturity assessment entails in practical terms. We’ll use the analogy of a doctor working with a patient to help articulate some of the different steps involved in the process.

1. Understanding the Current State

Similar to a doctor asking about symptoms and conducting initial tests, cybersecurity assessors gather information about an organization’s current cybersecurity technologies, processes, and people. It’s important to dig down deep and understand what’s currently being done, what’s not being done, and what sort of relationships exist with cybersecurity, various threats, and more.

2. Assessing Capabilities and Weaknesses

Just as a doctor identifies current health risks based on test results, they check health history over time. Similarly, cybersecurity assessors identify vulnerabilities, strengths, and weaknesses in an organization’s cybersecurity measures, along with the likelihood of being attacked. This includes evaluating aspects like network security, access controls, data protection measures, incident response plans, employee training, and more.

3. Using Frameworks and Standards

Doctors have methods that they’ve been trained to use. So do cybersecurity professionals. They’ll often use frameworks and industry standards (such as NIST Cybersecurity Framework, ISO/IEC 27001) as benchmarks to assess an organization’s maturity level. These frameworks provide a structured approach to evaluate and measure various practices.

4. Providing Recommendations and Targets

After visiting with a patient, a doctor usually suggests lifestyle changes or treatment plans. The same goes for cybersecurity assessors. They offer recommendations and targets to improve an organization’s maturity. This might look like implementing new technologies, enhancing existing security policies, providing employee training, or refining incident response plans.

To be honest, it all depends on the company’s current plan and the threats it faces. For some organizations, a lot of work has to be done. For others, it’s about tweaking what’s already happening at a foundational level.

5. Ongoing Monitoring and Improvement

Finally, just as a patient has to monitor health and adjust lifestyle habits, organizations can’t view cybersecurity maturity assessments as one-time activities. You must continually monitor and invest in cybersecurity by conducting periodic assessments and making necessary adjustments to adapt to new threats and challenges. It’s an ongoing process!

Are You Prepared?

Today, cyberattacks aren’t just about occasional intrusions; they pose an existential threat to businesses of all sizes and sectors. From ransomware paralyzing critical infrastructures to data breaches compromising sensitive information, the stakes have never been higher.

Cybersecurity maturity assessment can result in a shield, empowering you to understand, prepare, and fortify your defenses against these sophisticated threats. As technology continues to advance, so do cyber threats. The relevance of cybersecurity maturity assessment will, too.

The relevance of cybersecurity maturity assessments cannot be overstated. They serve as a compass that guides your organization through an intricate maze of threats – ultimately empowering you to adapt, evolve, and thrive in spite of growing risks.

At CYE, we believe an investment in cybersecurity maturity is one of the highest ROI investments an organization can make. Our Hyver platform’s maturity module measures your organization’s cybersecurity maturity, allowing you to set targets, benchmark against your industry, and track your progress over time while communicating with stakeholders to justify budget. It relies on CYE’s objective and continuous data, as well as your security team’s input.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can book a demo today!