Agile first began in the world of software development. It was used to break down larger complex projects into more manageable chunks. As a result, Agile focused on prioritizing tasks, identifying value, and achieving continuous improvement. Companies that can harness an Agile framework can significantly reduce production times and risk while improving the quality of their products.
An Agile framework applies to cybersecurity. In the same manner that Agile emphasizes prioritization and continuous improvement, a security-first approach to data management can benefit from the same principles that Agile represents. Data compliance and security involve a combination of being lean and Agile. These principles enable your company to implement a continuous monitoring and improvement approach to cybersecurity.
Understanding lean development
Even before Agile was a common phenomenon in businesses, lean development was the practice that everyone was striving to achieve. Lean development refers to a set of principles that eliminate waste, improve quality, create knowledge, and deliver faster results. Lean development also focuses on optimizing entire product chains in order to improve overall efficiency.
While lean is easy to picture in industries such as manufacturing, how can it apply to cybersecurity? The similarities are many. For example, the focus of lean development to eliminate waste while improving quality applies directly to cybersecurity monitoring. By companies using perimeter security platforms that utilize fewer resources to detect risk, IT departments can save on monitoring costs and redirect resources to continuous product development.
After lean was the common practice in many industries, Agile development came along. The primary focus of Agile is to break down a larger overall objective into more manageable chunks. This methodic approach helps a company identify opportunities for improvement while reducing wastage and focusing on the needs of the customer.
Agile slowly grew into the gold standard of product development because it emphasizes 12 important principles.
- A customer-centric approach (customer satisfaction being key)
- Identifying opportunities to gain competitive advantage
- Continuous development of functional pieces of a product
- Combining the efforts of business and production departments
- Providing support to available talent
- Establishing efficient communication channels
- Effective measurement of progress using software platforms
- A focus on sustainability during product development
- Technical excellence as a key focus of product development
- Focus on objectives that still need to be accomplished
- Maintaining optimal organization within the team to design the best product blueprints
- Constant reflection and readjustment of working principles
Agile and its role in cybersecurity
Similar to lean development, many people wonder how the 12 principles of Agile can apply to a cyber security framework. Many of the core principles of Agile can be directly transferred to cybersecurity because they focus on continuous development, reflection and readjustment, and the elimination of wastage. In fact, online hackers knowingly or unknowingly take advantage of lean and Agile principles. They constantly develop methodologies for remaining one step ahead of your cybersecurity framework by using innovative approaches and learning from previous mistakes.
To keep up, your cybersecurity plan needs to take advantage of continuous development, effective communication, and technical expertise in order to deal with threats.
How to develop an Agile Framework for your cybersecurity plan
Owing to the principles that apply to both Agile and cybersecurity, you can work towards creating a plan that uses Agile to enhance your data security plan and workflow. This plan involves improvement of your data controls so as to ensure that you remain ahead of any potential risks that may occur.
Even when the current regulations end up lagging behind threats being faced, developing an Agile-compliant cybersecurity framework will help you remain ahead of any risks to your company data. An Agile-compliant cybersecurity plan involves the following components.
1. Combining the efforts of business and IT departments
In many businesses, there may be a disconnect between the objectives of the business and IT department. This disconnect often results in vulnerabilities of company data. An Agile cybersecurity framework involves the combination of efforts between business and IT. As the business grows, your IT department will be able to assess if the current infrastructure is sufficient to protect large-scale operations, or if an upgrade will be necessary.
2. Developing a framework for your compliance program
Compliance needs to be met across all departments of a business. Therefore, an Agile approach involves creating an inter-departmental team that will review all software and systems of the business to develop a plan for compliance.
3. Providing support to available talent
An Agile cybersecurity framework also involves providing everyone with the resources they need to effectively carry out their role. Remember that cybersecurity involves every member of your organization, from the CISO to the IT dept. and even the customer service departments. Therefore, you should support talent in all positions to keep data security threats at bay.
4. Organizational development
As your business continues to grow, you need a seamless framework for securing larger amounts of data. This may involve a migration to the cloud or even procuring SaaS systems. Regardless of the resources needed, you should incorporate an Agile security framework that can easily scale with your organization as it grows.
5. Identifying opportunities to gain competitive advantage
Because it only takes one threat to completely paralyze your business operations, your security framework needs to always be a step ahead of the competition. An Agile framework involves constantly using new tools to monitor threats and to strengthen available systems and networks.
6. Reflection and readjustment
Finally, an Agile framework allows you to review previous threats and to identify opportunities for improvement. Through regular reflection, you can audit company data, adjust controls, and measure the effectiveness of new monitoring activities.
Ken Lynch is an enterprise software startup veteran, who has always been fascinated about what drives workers to work and how to make work more engaging. Ken founded Reciprocity to pursue just that. He has propelled Reciprocity’s success with this mission-based goal of engaging employees with the governance, risk, and compliance goals of their company in order to create more socially minded corporate citizens. Ken earned his BS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT.