How To Write a Network Security Plan

Cybersecurity is critical for businesses of all sizes. Nevertheless, many organizations don’t have a formal network security plan in place. This failure to plan is a huge business risk – and, in the worst cases, can lead to business disaster – and even business failure – if critical information assets are stolen or compromised by cyber criminals.

Studies have found that 50% of SMBs have experienced a website breach and 40% are reporting a range of attacks occurring on a monthly basis. It’s clear that no business can ignore this threat and that a proactive response is needed.

Creating a network security plan may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. By following some simple steps and including key stakeholders in the process, you can develop a plan that is appropriate for the risks you face and that will help keep your organization safe from cyber criminals.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive, step-by-step document. The subject matter is simply too complex for that. Our goal is to provide basic information about how to develop and implement a robust network security plan – either on your own or with the help of an experienced managed IT services provider (MSP) – and improve your security defense posture.


What Is a Network Security Plan?

Network security plans are systematic, comprehensive documents outlining how your organization should identify and manage network assets and threats in ways that minimize vulnerabilities, protect data, and maintain network access.

Good cyber security plans allow you to design and implement effective security policies and procedures to protect your information assets and enhance business operations.

Here are the fundamental steps required to develop a plan that will improve your organization’s security:

  1. Define your network security goals
  2. Identify your information assets
  3. Identify potential threats to your network (risk assessment)
  4. Complete a business impact analysis (BIA)
  5. Explore tools and technologies that can:
  1. Help protect your network from attack
  2. Identify when an attack is taking place
  1. Develop robust response and recovery strategies
  2. Implement your security plan
  3. Test and maintain your network security plan regularly

Learning how to Write a Network Security Plan is Complex

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Each of these steps can represent a project unto itself – and requires specific expertise not commonly found at most SMB’s. Our recommendation is to work with a trusted managed service provider (MSP) to develop, implement and maintain a comprehensive network security plan.

How To Write a Network Security Plan

Image Credit: Pexels


How To Write a Network Security Plan: Factors to Consider


1. Regulatory Requirements and Compliance Frameworks

When researching how to write a network security plan, you need to determine if there are any regulatory requirements that are applicable to your business. If so, your organization will probably need to prove your compliance by establishing risk-based controls that protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability (CIA) of the information you process or store.

As part of this process, you may need to achieve and maintain compliance with one or more established information security frameworks, such as:

  • NIST: National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • ISO: International Organization for Standardization
  • HIPAA: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
  • GDPR: General Data protection Regulation

Each of these frameworks has its own unique characteristics but they all help to establish comprehensive standards that improve network security and data integrity. They also require significant effort to maintain, and must have buy-in across an organization to be successful.


2. Infrastructure Assessments

By conducting rigorous assessments, your business can determine its level of risk and develop a network security plan and an overall security strategy that mitigates the impact of those risks on your business operations. The most typical assessments include:

  • Risk Assessment:
    • Identifying potential hazards and security risks and analyzing their effect on business functions
      • Natural and human caused risks
      • Internal and External risks
      • What assets might be vulnerable?
      • What are the potential business impacts?
      • What are the current capabilities of the business to withstand those risks?
  • Business Impact Analysis (BIA)
    • A Business Impact Analysis is a process for identifying business critical functions, systems, resources and processes and determining the potential impacts resulting from their interruption.
    • For all functions, define downtime tolerance:
      • Maximum tolerable downtime (MTD), recovery time objective (RTO), recovery point objective (RPO)
  • Gap Analysis
    • Conduct a gap analysis to determine delta between recovery requirements and current capabilities
    • Explore recovery strategy options


3. Incident Response Plan

Incident response plans are a critical component to any network security strategy. They involve creating plans for how to respond in the event of disaster, including network security breaches.

An incident response plan should include all the steps your business groups and/or technical staff needs to perform in order to meet business recovery objectives. These include:

  • Organize Teams
  • Create Plans
    • Crisis management
    • Communications
    • Business unit plans
    • Manual work-around procedures
    • Tech recovery plan, including system restoration, data backup and recovery, and notification process
      • Write business continuity and IT disaster recovery procedures
  • Develop testing and maintenance requirements
    • Conduct regular testing

Want to learn more about the strategic importance of cyber security planning?


4. Establishing a Long Term Security Plan

A 2021 study revealed that 52% of small businesses experienced a cyberattack in the previous year. This illustrates the ever-increasing importance of developing continuous and  long term security strategies.

In order for your security team and your company to function effectively, it is crucial to have a coherent network security plan that describes the risks and controls included in your overall  long term security strategy.

Whatever methodology is used, it is critical to test and improve your network security plan regularly:

  • Assign an owner
  • Secure senior management support
  • Ensure that all necessary staff understand their roles and responsibilities during a disaster event – reducing the likelihood for error if the plan is activated
  • Identify and correct deficiencies in the plan
  • Identify changes in the IT environment and/or business processes that must be accounted for in the network security plan

Remember: If a network security plan is NOT tested and maintained, it is NOT a functional plan.


How a Skilled Partner Can Help Improve Your Network Security Plan

As you can see from even this limited description, the task of creating a meaningful network security plan requires serious time and specific expertise. Expertise that is generally out of reach for most SMBs. So – if you are serious about developing a robust network security plan, you may want to look for a partner to help. A partner who has the skills and the experience to help you navigate this critical effort – and who can support you for the long term. A partner you can trust.

We humbly suggest that a good Managed Services Provider can be an ideal partner in this effort.  The right MSP can provide a wide range of specialized resources to help you develop and implement robust network security plans that are tailored to meet your specific business risks. In addition, just as importantly, they can provide ongoing support of your plans – including monitoring, testing and maintenance – so that you can be assured that your assets are always well protected and your processes stay compliant with industry and regulatory standards.

Book a free consultation with ITSco, and start your journey towards a more secure network today!


Featured Image Credit: Pexels

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