In the dynamic landscape of cyberspace, organizations face a variety of threats that demand a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. To build a robust defense, it is crucial to address five fundamental areas in which organizations of all sizes and industries struggle: Access Management, Vendor Risk Management, Resilience, Incident Response, and Asset Management.

LBMC’s Cybersecurity Consulting team identified these five as the primary areas of concern based on data pulled from a sample of 30 different client risk assessments performed in 2023. Of this sample, 93% of organizations had at least one of these areas identified as a significant gap in their overall security posture. Furthermore, 39% of the organizations had two or more of the gaps covered in this list.

In this article, we will explore best practices related to these five topics.

1. Vendor Risk Management

As organizations increasingly rely on external vendors, the risk of cyber threats expands beyond internal systems and personnel. Vendor Risk Management is the most common area for significant gaps among the 2023 Risk Assessments, with 59% of the clients having it as a foundational issue. Vendor relationships can inadvertently introduce vulnerabilities, making VRM a top concern. Best practices to prevent commonly observed vulnerabilities are regular assessments and due diligence with vendors to identify and mitigate potential risks.

Additionally, successful VRM relies on robust collaboration between your company and its vendors. Establishing clear guidelines for data handling, storage, and transmission is crucial to protect sensitive information and prevent legal repercussions. Companies should maintain open lines of communication regarding security expectations, incident response protocols, and reporting procedures.

A shared commitment to cybersecurity with vendors creates a culture of mutual responsibility and proactive risk mitigation. A common approach involves the business tiering or classifying vendors based on the types of information they will be exchanging. For example, it is unlikely that the vendor mowing the lawn out front would be held to the same standard as a vendor sharing protected health information (PHI).

2. Asset Management

Understanding and managing digital and physical assets is foundational to cybersecurity. Companies struggle with accurate asset quantities, making it challenging to track and secure all devices and data. Effective Asset Management involves creating an inventory of all assets, regularly auditing it, and implementing security controls to protect these assets. This ensures that organizations have a clear understanding of their threat landscape and can proactively secure their critical assets.

Both digital and physical assets are prime targets for cybercriminals, making it imperative to implement robust security controls. Organizations often face challenges in enforcing consistent security measures across diverse assets. Regularly updating and patching software, implementing encryption protocols, defining baseline configuration profiles, and deploying firewalls are additional critical steps companies should take to bolster security controls and safeguard digital assets against evolving threats.

3. Resilience

Cyber threats are inevitable, making organizational resilience a critical concern. Beyond prevention, businesses must focus on their ability to recover swiftly from an event or incident. This involves implementing backup and recovery systems, maintaining incident response plans, and conducting regular simulations to test the resilience in the face of cyberattacks.

Establishing robust data backup practices, testing restoration procedures, and ensuring redundancy are also critical components of cyber resilience. These ensure that the impact on operations can be minimized even during a major incident. Another aspect of resilience that many companies struggle with is maintaining well-defined Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery plans that guide organizations back to stability. Often, these documents are initially developed to check a box on a compliance checklist or appease leadership and then left in a desk drawer. These plans should be reviewed on a recurring basis and updated after any significant infrastructure or business changes.

4. Incident Response

The ability to detect, respond to, and recover from cyber incidents is vital. A well-defined Incident Response plan details a structured and coordinated approach when a security breach occurs. Establishing a comprehensive Incident Response plan tailored to the business’ unique risks and assets is crucial for minimizing damage and downtime.

Organizations often falter by neglecting the preparation phase and/or testing the Incident Response plan regularly. Conducting simulated cyberattack scenarios allows teams to refine their response strategies, identify potential weaknesses, and ensure a well-coordinated and effective response when a real incident occurs. Organizations should establish clear communication channels, designate incident response teams, and conduct regular drills to optimize the response process and minimize the impact of cyber incidents.

5. Access Management

Unauthorized access remains a prevalent threat, and organizations must implement robust access controls to limit privileges based on job roles or functions. Despite Access Management being the least common of the five significant issues, it was still listed in nearly 25% of the organizations sampled. Companies should regularly audit and update user permissions, enforce strong authentication measures, and monitor access logs to minimize the risk of unauthorized access and data breaches. Additionally, granting excessive permissions to users can inadvertently create security vulnerabilities.

The principle of least privilege should guide Access Management practices, ensuring that users only have the permissions necessary for their roles. Regularly review and update these user privileges to prevent overprivileged accounts from becoming potential entry points for cyber threats. Our team sees many clients struggle to wrap their hands around employee transfers. Access management teams often see  a ticket request  asking for new access the employee will need in their new position, but fail to address any preexisting access the user may no longer need.


A holistic cybersecurity strategy must encompass these five core areas to effectively safeguard organizations from the evolving threat landscape. By addressing Vendor Risk Management, Access Management, Resilience, Incident Response, and Asset Management, organizations can establish a robust defense against cyber threats and protect their digital assets.

Curious to see how your company is handling these areas? One of the best first steps is to have a Risk Assessment performed to assess the completeness and maturity of the security-related practices inside your organization. Through a series of interviews with key stakeholders and subject matter experts, as well as a review of select documentation, our team of security professionals will evaluate the people, processes, and technology that contribute to your organization’s cybersecurity program.

If your business struggles to implement comprehensive security for any of the listed areas, LBMC is happy to discuss ways in which to bolster your defense. Contact us to learn more about the services our experts can provide to protect your organization from potential cyber threats.

Content provided by LBMC Cybersecurity professionals, Jackson Grelier and Garrett Zickgraf.