Book:Comprehensive Guide to Developing and Implementing a Cybersecurity Plan/What is a cybersecurity plan and why do you need it?/Cybersecurity planning and its value

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1. What is a cybersecurity plan and why do you need it?

1.1 Cybersecurity planning and its value

Cyber table with source.png

From law firms[1] to automotive manufacturers[2], the need to address cybersecurity is increasingly apparent. Various sources report anywhere between six to eight trillion dollars as the global cost of cybercrime in 2022[3][4][5], though due to underreporting of crimes, that number may be much higher. That number also likely doesn't take into account lost business, fines, litigation, and intangible losses[6] By 2025, the global damage estimate is expected to be $10.5 trillion annually.[3] In the end, businesses of all sizes average about $4.35 million globally in losses due to a cybersecurity incident ($9.44M just in the United States)[7], and nearly 60 percent of small and midsize businesses go bankrupt within six months because of it.[8]

And while large enterprises often grab the headlines after a cybersecurity breach, small businesses of all types are also subject to cyber crimes, and they too aren't doing enough to protect themselves. Juniper Research reports that despite small businesses making up over 99 percent of all companies, approximately 13 percent of overall cybersecurity spending came from those small businesses in 2018, amounting to about $500 per business.[9] By 2023, that number was $1,500 or less for nearly half of all small businesses.[10] Finally, in 2022, small businesses were targeted by cyber attackers 43% of the time, yet only 14% said they were prepared to defend themselves.[11]

Even the tiniest of businesses face cybersecurity risks today. The independent contractor with a WordPress-based website that advertises their knowledge and skills must still ensure all website plugins and themes are updated and install security plugins to close potential vulnerabilities in the software. Without these precautions, hackers could spread malware, steal user data, add the website to a bot network, hack the site for the learning experience, or even hack it just for fun.[12][13][14]

As for larger companies, a late 2018 audit of Fortune 500 companies found a mix of good and bad news: they're doing better at reducing the number of entry points for hackers to enter their systems, yet their systems remain susceptible to fraudulent emails containing malware.[15] Things weren't much better for the Fortune 500, with the average company having 476 critical vulnerabilities among its public and internet-facing assets in late 2022.[16] Additionally, Fortune 500 companies are still lagging behind in being publicly transparent in showing a commitment to cybersecurity and protecting customer data.[17][18] On a broader scale, roughly 60 to 70 percent of all companies are still ill-prepared for cyber threats, either not having an up-to-date cybersecurity strategy or having no plan at all.[8][14] By all appearances, businesses still aren't doing enough to protect themselves and their customer's data despite the fact that cybercrime appears to only be getting worse for everyone.

The most solid first steps any organization or individual can take to limit the potential effects of cybercrime is to learn more about the threat and to develop some sort of cybersecurity strategy. For most organizations, this means developing a cybersecurity plan that boasts solid policies and security controls.

A cybersecurity plan is a developed, distributed, reviewed, updated, and protected collection of assessments, analyses, requirements, controls, goals, policies, performance indicators, and metrics that shapes how an organization protects against and responds to cybersecurity threats. Developing a cybersecurity plan is not a simple process; it requires expertise, resources, and diligence. Even a simple plan may involve several months of development, more depending on the complexity involved. The time it takes to develop the plan may also be impacted by how much executive support is provided, the size of the development team (bigger is not always better), and how available required resources are.[19]

This guide attempts to assist organizations and individuals with overcoming the involved complexities of cybersecurity plan development and preventing becoming another cybersecurity statistic. It addresses the major regulations, standards, and standards frameworks related to cybersecurity, with a focus in particular on the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST's) Special Publication 800-53, Revision 5: Security and Privacy Controls for Information Systems and Organizations. Also addressed is how to best incorporate a cybersecurity framework and controls into your plan development. At it's heart, this guide includes a comprehensive 10-step plan of attack for developing a cybersecurity plan, followed by closing comments. The end of this guide includes an appendix containing a slightly more simplified wording of NIST's most popular cybersecurity controls, as well as mappings to this wiki's own LIMSpec, an evolving set of specifications for laboratory informatics solutions and their development.

Note that this guide has been written with the intent to broadly cover multiple industries. However, it does have a slight lean towards laboratories, particularly those implementing information systems. Despite that, there should be sufficient information contained herein to be helpful to most people attempting to navigate the challenges of consistently applying cybersecurity goals and policies to their organization.


  1. Sobowale, J. (1 March 2017). "Law firms must manage cybersecurity risks". ABA Journal. American Bar Association. Retrieved 21 March 2023. 
  2. Watney, C.; Draffin, C. (November 2017). "Addressing new challenges in automotive cybersecurity" (PDF). R Street Policy Study No. 118. R Street Institute. Retrieved 21 March 2023. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Morgan, S. (10 December 2022). "Top 10 Cybersecurity Predictions And Statistics For 2023". Cybercrime Magazine. Retrieved 21 March 2023. 
  4. Amuge, O. (9 January 2023). "Cyber security revenue to hit $262bn in 2027 as cybercrime rises". Business a.m.. Retrieved 21 March 2023. 
  5. Fleck, A. (2 December 2022). "Cybercrime Expected To Skyrocket in Coming Years". Statista. Retrieved 21 March 2023. 
  6. "BLOG: Cost of Cyber Crime to Small Businesses". Virginia SBDC Blog. Virginia SBDC. 30 May 2017. Archived from the original on 27 December 2020. Retrieved 21 March 2023. 
  7. "Cost of a data breach 2022: A million-dollar race to detect and respond". IBM. 2022. Retrieved 21 March 2023. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Galvin, J. (7 May 2018). "60 Percent of Small Businesses Fold Within 6 Months of a Cyber Attack. Here's How to Protect Yourself". Retrieved 21 March 2023. 
  9. "Cybersecurity Breaches to Result in over 146 Billion Records Being Stolen by 2023". Juniper Research. 8 August 2018. Retrieved 21 March 2023. 
  10. Rahmonbek, K. (22 February 2023). "35 Alarming Small Business Cybersecurity Statistics for 2023". StrongDM Blog. Retrieved 21 March 2023. 
  11. Mclean, M. (2 January 2023). "2023 Must-Know Cyber Attack Statistics and Trends". Embroker Blog. Retrieved 21 March 2023. 
  12. Grima, M. (18 January 2023). "Top reasons why WordPress websites get hacked (and how you can stop it)". WP White Security. Retrieved 21 March 2023. 
  13. Moen, D. (19 April 2016). "What Hackers Do With Compromised WordPress Sites". Wordfence Blog. Defiant, Inc. Retrieved 21 March 2023. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 Talaleve, A. (22 February 2021). "Website Hacking Statistics You Should Know in 2022". Patchstack. WebARX. Retrieved 21 March 2023. 
  15. Uchill, J. (11 December 2018). "Fortune 500 cybersecurity is better and worse than you'd think". Axios. Retrieved 21 March 2023. 
  16. Goldman, J. (7 December 2022). "Average Fortune 500 Company Has 476 Critical Vulnerabilities". eSecurity Planet. Retrieved 21 March 2023. 
  17. Stahie, S. (4 October 2019). "Fortune 500 Companies Take Cyber Security for Granted". Security Boulevard. Retrieved 21 March 2023. 
  18. "The Cloudfathers: An Analysis of Cybersecurity in the Fortune 500" (PDF). Bitglass. 2019. Retrieved 21 March 2023. 
  19. Cadmus Group, LLC (30 October 2018). "Cybersecurity Strategy Development Guide" (PDF). National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. Retrieved 21 March 2023. 

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Citation information for this chapter

Chapter: 1. What is a cybersecurity plan and why do you need it?

Title: Comprehensive Guide to Developing and Implementing a Cybersecurity Plan

Edition: Second

Author for citation: Shawn E. Douglas

License for content: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Publication date: March 2023