In this article, NetSPI Field CISO Nabil Hannan discusses why it’s critical for organizations to prepare themselves and their cybersecurity postures against known and unknown threats. To achieve this, he shares insights into how to create a comprehensive proactive security playbook. Read the preview below or view it online


Any good sports coach will tell you a playbook is a critical tool in ensuring a team’s continued success — and the same applies to cybersecurity. Without an effective security playbook, organizations expose themselves to vulnerabilities by not preparing for potential outcomes, ramifications, and remediations. To stay ahead of bad actors and combat emerging attacks, security leaders must turn the focus from being reactive to being proactive — which starts with creating a comprehensive security playbook. 

A key first step in creating any playbook is planning. Just as coaches have to make customized playbooks for each new opponent, security leaders must have plans in place for various crises and situations so that all involved parties — from employees to customers to contractors — know what’s expected of them in the event of a breach.

Internal planning is essential, and activities such as tabletop exercises, process panning, and product strategy can help assess the current security landscape. Tabletop exercises are particularly effective in testing and perfecting playbooks. In conducting these exercises, chief information security officers (CISOs) lead their teams through a variety of scenarios, both typical and atypical, to determine what red flags to be mindful of and when, as well as to work through any backup strategies. Testing both normal and abnormal incidents is an important point here. It’s not enough to practice traditional breaches that are common to remediate. Instead, challenge teams to think critically in the event of unique, unknown vulnerabilities.

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