What Are The Steps Of The Information Security Program Lifecycle? A Must-Read

Projects are frequently managed using a lifecycle model in all areas of IT. A product goes through a cycle of improvement and upkeep with no end in sight on the stage. And this holds true for information security just as much as it does for any other IT field.

By its very name, the information security lifecycle implies that proper information security is a process, not a one-and-all completed task. However, there is no such thing as an end to information security, and the operational structure of every organization should always try to achieve it.

You must understand the realities of the “information security lifecycle” regarding the security of your data and technological assets. Specific rules and standards are required to implement the security lifecycle.

However, it is pertinent that we first discuss the critical elements required before moving on to the information security lifecycle steps.

So, what are the steps of the information security program lifecycle?

For security professionals, the information security lifecycle acts as a critical framework for day-to-day operations. 

Understanding the information security lifecycle model provides professionals with a roadmap for ensuring continual, evolutionary growth in a company’s information security.

Step 1: Identify Which Assets Need To Be Protected

The first stage in an information security program lifecycle is to determine what needs to be safeguarded. You can’t secure what you don’t have information about in a security protocol. As a result, ensuring that the cycle includes all components of a network begins with identification.

The most important part of identification is mapping the network. This mapping should begin at a high level and watered down into specific aspects.

 This data aids your information security team in comprehending the assets within a system, how they relate to one another, and the present resources accessible for information security measures. 

  • The identification stage looks at a few core elements, which are;
  • The number of available servers, routers, and other assets
  • The locality of physical assets
  • The various operating systems that are present on the network
  • The type and number of apps and software that are installed on a computer system.
  • For each area, the scope and relevance of applications and software
  • Each computer and mobile device on the network’s status
  • Which assets are the most important to your company?
  • The current status of each mobile device and computer connected to the network
  • The present infrastructure of the security systems

Compiling the information above involves performing an audit of the company’s security systems. Typically, audits begin with a basic overview and evaluation of current platforms and tools.

External resources are frequently employed during audits to provide an unbiased view of your company’s position. However, this system audit should include internal discussions and even interviews. This provides another layer of information to the one obtained during the audit.

After the audit, the information security team will have a detailed view of the company’s current information security status. This data is usually written up into a document and saved for later use and reference in the information security lifecycle.

Step 2: Evaluate

The evaluation phase comes immediately after the identification step. This stage after the information security team has adequately mapped out the organization’s existing technology during the identification process. 

In this step, security professionals use the information acquired during the identification stage to conduct a security evaluation of the company’s assets. 

One of the most demanding steps in the information security program lifecycle is the Evaluation process. It covers several areas, such as system and process reviews, server reviews, and vulnerability evaluation.

System And Process Review 

The first step in the evaluation process is to examine the company’s current structure. Next, security experts will discuss the systems indicated during the identification process. This identification will help the professionals to gather additional information to discover vulnerabilities during this assessment process. 

This particular stage might be a daunting process, especially for large businesses. Therefore, it’s usually advisable to use one or more proven strategies. 

These strategies include prioritizing the most critical assets, performing a thorough review from top to bottom, in addition, keeping an eye out for warning signs such as obsolete software versions, outdated hardware, and employee feedback.

Server Review:

Security teams will undertake an internal evaluation of each server, including configurations and settings, as part of the assessment process. To ensure compliance, the team will evaluate the server settings to the company’s standards and policies. 

Server reviews and evaluations may occur in the areas such as password policies, user IDs, 

user accounts policies, administrator accounts, configurations of the webserver, Log in Protocols, and access.

All of this data is required for vulnerability assessments and the evaluation of servers for potential modifications.

Vulnerability Evaluation:

After consulting and gathering information, the security team performs vulnerability evaluation on each system.

 Risk-management strategies are used in vulnerability evaluation to create complete analyses of each system’s existing and prospective threats.

Step 3: Design Solutions And countermeasures Based On The Previous Assessment 

The information security team will discuss solutions to specific challenges based on the unique vulnerabilities and difficulties identified during the evaluation step. Some of these problems include security products, cybersecurity threats, and information security processes.

The security team will explore some specific factors during the design phase. These factors include:

  • Compliance with legislation and mandatory obligations that apply to the company.
  • Design of integrated systems with great backups and redundancies. This design is to ensure business continuity in case of disaster, interruption, or emergencies.
  • Design of a highly effective system with maximum security.

As soon as the security teams have identified potential solutions to each problem, they will evaluate each alternative in detail and generate specific plans and blueprints for each modification.

When the security teams have completed their plans, they present them to the company’s management and leadership, who decide on a course of action for each issue.

Step 4: Implementation Of Design 

The next step in the information lifecycle is implementation. This phase occurs after a solution’s design has been authorized by the company’s management. 

The security team produces an implementation plan for the solution and begins deployment at this point in the process. The following steps are part of the implementation plan:

Develop a step-by-step change plan. These security teams start with the most vital areas and work their way down to the least vulnerable ones. In addition, any employee training required to adopt new processes or policies should be factored into the change plan.

Organize team roles and responsibilities for team members and IT specialists involved in actualizing this change plan.

Acquire the resources that you need to implement the proposed change plan.

Test and implement changes to ensure the change plan has been finalized.

Step 5: Mitigate

This step is necessary to test your security procedures to ensure the system adheres to your security rules and requirements.

 The mitigation step is otherwise known as the protection phase. During this phase, information security teams examine the entire system and any new changes made during the previous steps.

Step 6: Monitor

This is the final step of the information security lifecycle. The monitoring phase has two goals: verifying that the enhanced security is maintained and identifying new vulnerabilities when they emerge.

In this final step, the security team must update and implement monitoring mechanisms needed to assess the status of new and existing systems across the network. 

Establishing this process necessitates an examination of a few critical areas:

  • Monitoring methods: These system setups can be monitored manually or with the help of compliance monitoring tools by the security team.
  • Monitoring frequency: This ensures that each system resource receives the appropriate attention when needed. 
  • Monitoring measurements: This entails converting data into a quantitative format. Measurements enable a better visual representation of security and straightforward detection of data deficiencies.

Key Elements Needed For The Information Security Program

A firm foundation is required for the lifecycle of an information security program. The security team’s lifecycle process is dependent on the foundation of a set of company policies and standards.

Although establishing clear and rigorous guidelines for your organization requires taking deliberate effort, it is highly recommended. The following are the importance of having a set of clear company policies and standards.  

  • It establishes clear expectations: Security teams can use policies and procedures to develop a clear framework for examining and analyzing existing and new security systems. Through this, the teams will have principles and standards to compare approaches and processes against, rather than a vague process.
  • It creates collaboration: Many information security projects may function separately, focusing on different aspects of the problem. Clear policies and standards establish a baseline from which all teams may work, reducing the number of conflicting solutions and interests.
  • It improves efficiency: Well-detailed company policies and standards provide a baseline. This baseline is one in which teams may build and evaluate systems and solutions, reducing the need for back-and-forth across groups. As a result, security teams will be able to complete the information security lifecycle more efficiently.

Your company’s information lifecycle may be built on a completely different foundation compared to another company’s. This is dependent on the policies and procedures in place. 

Despite these differences, an organization’s information security lifecycles often follow a similar step-by-step method. In the following sections, we’ll go through each step in detail.

Conclusion

Your company’s information security program, like security threats, must constantly evolve and change shape. Therefore, planning, evaluating, designing, and implementing are crucial parts of the information security cycle. And once you’ve finished that cycle once, you get to repeat the process, and again.

 Understanding the information security lifecycle model provides IT professionals with a roadmap for ensuring continual, evolutionary growth in a company’s information security.

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