One of the best ways to protect your organization from cyberattacks is to identify risks early and take steps to mitigate them. But what’s the best way to identify risks? Should you be focused on tactical risks—the immediate dangers posed by specific vulnerabilities—or strategic risks—the long-term threats to your organization’s cybersecurity posture? The answer, of course, is both. In this blog post, we’ll break down the difference between tactical and strategic risks and explain why it’s important to address both.
Tactical Risks: Immediate Dangers Posed by Specific Vulnerabilities
Tactical risks are the immediate dangers posed by specific vulnerabilities. For example, if you know that a certain software program has a vulnerability that can be exploited by hackers, that’s a tactical risk. In order to mitigate that risk, you’ll need to patch the software or remove it from your system altogether.
Tactical Risks are risks that are specific to a particular system or process. They are usually short-term in nature and have a direct impact on the operation of your business. For example, a tactical risk might be a vulnerability in your web server that could be exploited by an attacker to gain access to sensitive data. Another example might be an employee who clicks on a phishing email and exposes your network to malware. Tactical risks can usually be mitigated through the implementation of technical controls such as firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, and robust authentication mechanisms.
Strategic Risks: Long-Term Threats to Your Organization’s Cybersecurity Posture
Strategic risks are the long-term threats to your organization’s cybersecurity posture. For example, if your organization doesn’t have a formal incident response plan, that’s a strategic risk. In order to mitigate that risk, you’ll need to develop and implement a plan.
Strategic Risks are broader in nature and often have indirect impacts on your business. They may be caused by external factors such as changes in technology, the economy, or political instability. A strategic risk might be the threat of cyber espionage which could result in the theft of valuable intellectual property or sensitive information. Another example might be the possibility of a ransomware attack which could cripple your operations and reputation. Strategic risks often require a more holistic approach and cannot be mitigated through the use of technical controls alone. In addition to technical measures, you may need to consider organizational changes, communication plans, and incident response strategies.
It is important to differentiate between tactical and strategic risks when allocating resources in order to ensure that you are taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity. By being aware of both types of risks, you can make better decisions on how to protect your organization in the short-term and long-term.
Contact Lares today to learn how to define, track, and measure your tactical and strategic risks with the help of our experienced virtual CISOs (vCISOs).
Andrew Hay is the COO at Lares and is a veteran cybersecurity executive, strategist, industry analyst, data scientist, threat and vulnerability researcher, and international public speaker with close to 25 years of cybersecurity experience across multiple domains. He prides himself on his ability to execute the security strategy of the company with which he works without neglecting business objectives and the needs of its customers. Andrew is the author of multiple books on advanced security topics and is frequently approached to provide expert commentary on industry developments. He has been featured in publications such as Forbes, Bloomberg, Wired, USA Today, and CSO Magazine.