Cyber security poses a critical challenge for businesses in our digital era. As threats evolve, companies must remain alert and prepared to fend off attacks. Yet, many firms lack confidence in their defensive capabilities. Organisations often avoid cyber resilience, assuming it’s complex and costly. However, those fostering risk awareness through sound policies and governance can reap rewards when incidents occur. “Mastering the 5 Stages of Cyber Security Readiness” explores the hurdles of cyber security preparedness. This guide offers a framework for companies to evaluate their readiness, empowering them to bolster their defences and protect their digital assets. By following this guide, businesses can take concrete steps towards enhancing their cyber security posture and safeguarding their future in the digital landscape.

Challenges of Cyber Security Readiness

As we step into the latter half of 2024 and beyond, the cyber security landscape continues to present significant, evolving challenges. Organisations will need to reassess their security strategies, while becoming more nimble, adaptive, and proactive to stay ahead of the curve.

There are a number of challenges that businesses face in achieving cyber security readiness. These challenges include:

  • The complexity of the threat landscape: Cyber attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and targeted. Businesses need to be aware of the latest threats and vulnerabilities in order to protect themselves.
  • The lack of skilled cyber security professionals: There is a global shortage of skilled cyber security professionals. This makes it difficult for businesses to find the people they need to build and maintain effective security programs.
  • The cost of cyber security solutions: Implementing and maintaining effective cyber security solutions can be expensive. This can be a challenge for businesses with limited budgets.
  • The siloed nature of security tools: Many businesses use a variety of different security tools from different vendors. These tools can be difficult to integrate and manage, which can create security gaps.

The importance of cyber security preparedness is paramount, considering the countless cyber risks present in our modern world. As technology rapidly progresses, these dangers are constantly changing and adapting. Organisations of all sizes and sectors must remain alert and take a proactive approach. Among all the awareness we aim to foster with this article, the most vital theme is the ongoing quest for cyber security readiness.

The Traditional Approach to Cyber Security

The traditional approach to cyber security has been to focus on prevention. Businesses have invested in a variety of security solutions, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and antivirus software. However, the traditional approach is no longer effective. Cyber attacks are becoming too sophisticated to be completely prevented.

Business leaders across the globe realise that no singular cyber security solution is sufficient enough to tackle today’s sophisticated and constantly evolving cyber attacks. Despite ramping up your defences, cyber criminals can still take advantage of human error or find loopholes and penetrate your company’s network and IT systems. This is where using proactive tools with automation is key to establishing cyber resilience across the organisation.

When it comes to cyber security and cyber resilience, you can’t have one without the other, says Ronan Lavelle, CEO of Validato.

Lavelle continues, “A cyber security defence posture is only as strong as the organisation’s ability to withstand pervasive malicious actors over and over again”. Organisations must be prepared to recover their operations in a rapid and efficient manner despite operational interruptions from cyber incidents. Without that resilient nature, an organisation will likely not survive most cyber incidents.

The Need for a New Approach

Businesses need to adopt a new approach to cyber security that focuses on resilience.

NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) defines cyber resilience as:

The ability to anticipate, withstand, recover from, and adapt to adverse conditions, stresses, attacks, or compromises on systems that use or are enabled by cyber resources. Cyber resiliency is intended to enable mission or business objectives that depend on cyber resources to be achieved in a contested cyber environment.

Cyber resiliency enables organisations to secure the business, reduce exposure time to cyber threats, and reduce the impact of attacks to help ensure continued sustainability.

A resilient cyber security posture requires businesses to:

  • Identify their critical assets: Businesses need to identify the data and systems that are essential to their operations.
  • Assess their cyber security risks: Businesses need to assess the risks that they face from cyber attacks.
  • Implement security controls: Businesses need to implement security controls to mitigate their cyber security risks.
  • Detect and respond to cyber attacks: Businesses need to have a plan for detecting and responding to cyber attacks.
  • Recover from cyber attacks: Businesses need to have a plan for recovering from cyber attacks.

Mastering the 5 Stages of Cyber Security Readiness

Tackling organisational issues such as a shortage of security talent to support operational and technical activities is a key issue that can keep CISOs challenged. A way to mitigate this is to leverage existing talent by developing desired security skill-sets. This includes enabling them with the right tools, such as those that use automation and machine learning and partnering with vendors that can serve as trusted advisors. It also means taking time to cultivate employee satisfaction to ensure the valuable resources that an organisation has already retained.

The Cyber Security Readiness Levels Framework

The Cyber Security Readiness Levels (CRLs) framework is a model that can be used to assess a business’s cyber security readiness. Essentially, cyber readiness covers actions taken by organisations to protect the security of their digital infrastructure against a wide range of potential cyber threats. Just as threat actors constantly update their methods and tools for breaching targeted networks, organisations must stay current on the latest security strategies, risk mitigation efforts, and data protection procedures.

The CRLs framework consists of five levels:

  • Level 1 – Ad Hoc: At this level, businesses have no formal cyber security program in place.
  • Level 2 – Reactive: At this level, businesses only react to cyber attacks after they have occurred.
  • Level 3 – Repeatable: At this level, businesses have a basic cyber security program in place, but it is not well-defined or documented.
  • Level 4 – Managed: At this level, businesses have a well-defined and documented cyber security program.
  • Level 5 – Proactive: At this level, businesses have a mature cyber security program that is constantly being improved.

Understanding that a successful cyber attack might occur at any moment, no matter how robust a cyber security program may be, means that organisations should focus on readiness as much as prevention, says Lavelle. Cyber security leaders can’t always predict an imminent threat, but they can do their part in building resilience throughout their organisation’s network to strengthen their ability to detect and respond to malicious attacks, he adds.

Five Steps to Improve Your Cyber Security Readiness

Businesses can improve their cyber security readiness by following these steps:

  • Step 1 – Assess your current cyber security posture: The first step to improving your cyber security readiness is to assess your current posture. This will help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Step 2 – Develop a cyber security strategy: Once you have assessed your current cyber security posture, you need to develop a cyber security strategy. This strategy should outline your goals for cyber security and the steps you will take to achieve those goals.
  • Step 3 – Implement security controls: There are a number of security controls that you can implement to improve your cyber security readiness. These controls include firewalls, intrusion detection systems, antivirus software, and data encryption.
  • Step 4 – Educate your employees: Your employees are one of your biggest cyber security risks. It is important to educate your employees about cyber security and how to protect themselves from cyber attacks.
  • Step 5 – Test your cyber security defences: It is important to regularly test your cyber security defences to identify any weaknesses.

Mastering the 5 Stages of Cyber Security Readiness

Cyber attacks can have significant damage to businesses, from financial loss to reputational damage, which is why it is imperative to implement the above five steps to improve your business’s cyber security readiness. Cyber resilience testing also plays an important part in preparation.

The Importance of Cyber Resilience Testing

Even the most prepared businesses can be the target of a cyber attack. It is important to have a plan for testing your cyber security defences to identify any weaknesses. Cyber resilience testing tools, like Validato, can help businesses to:

  • Identify critical assets and vulnerabilities.
  • Simulate cyber attacks to see how defences would hold up.
  • Measure cyber security resilience.
  • Improve cyber security posture and resilience and reduce the risk of a cyber attack.

As cyber security threats continue to change, each company’s cyber security protection systems need to evolve with it. It is necessary to perform periodic assessments of readiness to identify areas of vulnerability and to assess if existing policies and training need to be modified. To encourage compliance, documenting the results of all assessments, and ensuring that employees act on any risk remediation recommendations is best practice.


In conclusion, cyber security readiness is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for businesses of all sizes. The “Cyber Security Readiness Levels” framework provides a valuable tool for businesses to assess their current posture and identify areas for improvement. By following the five steps outlined in this guide (Mastering the 5 Stages of Cyber Security Readiness) and implementing a culture of cyber security awareness, businesses can significantly improve their resilience against cyber attacks and minimise the impact of a potential breach.

Remember, even the most prepared organisations can be targeted. Regularly testing your defences with tools like Validato is crucial to ensuring you are ready to respond and recover from any cyber attack. Taking a proactive approach to cyber security is an investment in your business’s future.

Don’t wait until it’s too late – start improving your cyber security readiness today. Contact the Validato team to book an obligation-free demonstration, today.