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CISO & CIO First 100 Days: Mastering Identity And Access

As a new CISO or CIO, your first 100 days are critical for establishing a strong security foundation. Amid the whirlwind of assessing risks, building relationships, and setting priorities, one area deserves special focus: identity and access management (IAM).

Knowing who has access to what is likely to be the first and biggest challenge you’ll face.

The Importance of Quick Wins for New CISOs and CIOs

For new technology executives like CISOs and CIOs, quick wins are crucial to demonstrate immediate value to the management team. Quick wins can help increase buy-in for new CISOs. This is essential given that, according to a recent survey of CISOs, 49% agreed that there is a lack of C-level buy-in to their role, with 32% going as far to say that there is no C-Level buy-in at all.

Identity security posture is a valuable metric to report back to the Board—and one that can be a quick win.

Addressing identity security issues proactively prevents potential exploits and underpins the security of the entire IT infrastructure. For instance, poor user access and identity governance creates holes that cybercriminals can exploit. Failed offboarding that leaves former employees with lingering privileges. Access creep as employees accumulate unnecessary rights over time. Toxic role combinations that concentrate too much power. These vulnerabilities can lead to disastrous data breaches, compliance violations, and more.

Identity Governance with Gathid

Gathid’s low-risk, and fast time-to-value identity governance solution empowers new CISOs and CIOs to:

  • Take Initial Identity Inventory: Automate the discovery of all accounts, roles, and groups across your environments to establish a baseline of your identity landscape, crucial for effective management and compliance.
  • Fast Track Security Team Building: Prioritize risk management by empowering your team with clear goals and demonstrate early wins to garner further support.
  • Align with Security Committee Goals: Share your strategic ‘now, next, and later’ items that align with enterprise security goals to streamline efforts and prove success.

Securing baseline identity and access data within your first 100 days as a new CISO or CIO allows you to showcase tangible improvements to the Board and C-suite by addressing initial findings. Implementing Gathid during this period offers a distinct advantage—Gathid quickly reveals complex, interconnected identity and access anomalies that may have previously been unknown, unrecognized, or misunderstood. This capability enables you to demonstrate rapid progress in addressing and remediating these issues, effectively mitigating real risks after what may have been years of inaction. This proactive approach not only enhances company security but helps to establish your impact immediately.

This was certainly the case for Jamie Rossato who commenced work as the inaugural Chief Information Security Officer at Leading Australasian beverages company, Lion. According to Jamie, “There was a lot of work needed to make Lion more cyber resilient, including identity and access governance.”

“I realized very quickly that we had a very imperfect view of who had access to what, where.

I wanted to rectify this in a way that didn’t involve the negotiations, endless change requests and the occasional stand-off to gain persistent visibility of accounts and privileges within internal systems. I also wanted to avoid standing up complicated, expensive infrastructure needing to be maintained in-house.

Speed to visibility was crucial, because it allowed me to make subsequent decisions without losing months. If it took me two months to put a system in and see the data, that’s two months I have wasted. Gathid was the tool to give me the best insights in the fastest time possible.”

The Gathid Graph bypasses the intricate bi-directional integrations that bog down conventional Identity Governance Systems, giving you precise and comprehensive visibility into identity and access management in a fraction of the usual time. Gathid delivers what is traditionally a 9-to-12-month project outcome in a matter of days.

Unified Identity Visibility Across Your Full Environment

Gathid automatically discovers and models all identities, roles, accounts, and access rights across your cloud apps, on-prem systems, databases, OT, and physical access control systems. By creating a comprehensive digital twin daily, Gathid illuminates every user and their associated permissions, even across disconnected silos.

This unified visualization enables you to instantly identify any gaps or risks related to user access, like stale accounts or risky privilege combinations. You can then swiftly revoke unnecessary rights.

Continuous Monitoring and Compliance Auditing

Identity and user access needs inevitably change over time as employees take on new roles, projects, and responsibilities. Gathid’s daily identity modeling detects any access creep or drift on a daily basis, immediately flagging areas that need remediation.

You’ll also gain robust auditing capabilities to facilitate periodic access certification campaigns and satisfy compliance mandates. Detailed logs capture a full before and after snapshot of any user access changes, giving you evidence of meeting regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, SOX, and more.

By leveraging an identity governance platform built specifically to handle the complexities of modern hybrid environments, you can establish a strong access control foundation from the outset. Gathid empowers you to swiftly understand user access realities, implement consistent provisioning processes, and continuously monitor for risks.

With identities and access under control via Gathid, you’ll be able to turn your focus to other critical CISO priorities like incident response planning, security culture initiatives, system audits, and more. Mastering identity enables you to build a cybersecurity program set up for long-term success.

Empowering Cybersecurity as a Business Enabler

Build Cross-Functional Relationships

Security requires collaboration across the entire organization. Focus on establishing relationships with stakeholders in legal, HR, finance, marketing, customer service, development teams and more; and what better way than using “who has access to your departments systems” as the issue enable those conversations. Having open communication channels helps you to secure resources and break down silos. It’s also critical to get buy-in from the Board and C-Suite by clearly articulating security’s business value.

Craft a Cohesive Security Narrative

How your company talks about cybersecurity can impact the adoption of initiatives. Partner with the marketing team to shape a compelling narrative that positions cybersecurity as an enabler of innovation and customer trust, not a burden on productivity. Adopting a human-centric approach to cybersecurity design and communications is becoming increasingly important.

New CISOs and CIOs often reframe cybersecurity from merely a necessary safeguard to a driver of business enablement:

  1. Education: Foster a culture of security awareness that encourages proactive identification and management of security risks.
  2. Shared Responsibility: Cultivate a security-first mindset across all departments to dilute the ‘silo effect’ and enhance enterprise-wide protection.
  3. Support and Buy-In: By demonstrating the business value of robust cybersecurity practices, you can secure the necessary resources and executive backing.
  4. Increase Productivity and Efficiency: Streamlined and secure access controls reduce bottlenecks and improve user satisfaction, directly boosting operational efficiency.
Update Policies, Plans and Protocols

Don’t make assumptions based on outdated documentation. Review and refresh security policies, standards and incident response plans as needed. Also pressure test incident response readiness through tabletop simulation exercises to identify any gaps in communication or role assignment during breach scenarios.

Assess and Evolve the Security Culture

Take time to understand the existing culture around cybersecurity. Is it prioritized and viewed as a business enabler? Or just seen as something that impedes agility? You may need to implement training and feedback loops to help evolve outdated mindsets in those first 100 days and emphasize security’s role in risk management and facilitating growth.

An Effective First 100 Days

By focusing on areas like identity governance, cross-business stakeholder engagement, security narratives and up-to-date policies and plans, you’ll be well on your way to an effective first 100 days as CISO. The key is establishing a strong foundation for driving security maturity and positioning yourself as a strategic business partner.


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