Proacte vs. Reactive Cybersecurity

The Totem approach to cyber defense is based on a philosophy of empowerment instead of fear. We view the threat from a proactive cybersecurity perspective and not a reactive crisis management response. We approach the challenges using a process of becoming stronger and more confident with an orientation of moving from awareness to action, prevention, and resolution.

So, what is different about the way we do things?

Proactive Cybersecurity Perspective

        The first step is realizing your company and your company leaders have cybersecurity legal and ethical responsibilities that have a direct impact on bottom-line profitability. Be it compliance with mandated standards like NIST 800-171 for controlled unclassified information, or HIPAA Security Rule for the protection and processing of personal data. Cybersecurity is risk management and it entails the wise selection of mitigating actions to reduce risk to your organization posed by information, IT assets, and your users to help realize a return on those investments.


Our Cyber Defense is from an Empowerment Approach

        We start at the top, emphasizing cybersecurity as a CEO’s personal responsibility. A responsibility they must accept and embrace because they have accountability and culpability for the organizations performance and compliance. We explain that the responsibility to protect their company’s data can’t be delegated to the IT or Security Manager… authority to act can be delegated, responsibility and accountability cannot. We help them understand their cyber defense and that they are under daily attack and must do something about it. There are relatively simple things they can do that vastly improve their organization’s proactive cybersecurity posture. We show them that by taking a risk management approach to identify and mitigate risks, they can get healthy in a straight-forward manner. We encourage those leaders to make a paradigm shift in embracing their cyber defense as part of their corporate responsibilities and lead a change in their organization’s culture toward a more proactive cybersecurity education, awareness, and engagement.

Proactive Cybersecurity Requires Organizational Cultural Change

        The importance of culture in an organization can’t be understated as it drives every aspect of performance. CEOs and company leaders set the tone and must lead the charge in initiating a cultural shift towards a more proactive cybersecurity approach throughout their work force. This includes understanding what organizational culture is, what it does in terms of setting the norms and reflecting the values of the people, and recognizing the difference between espoused culture and actual culture in the organization. We engage those leaders in organizational self examinations, showing them how to introduce change and we teach change management practices that drive successful organizational change throughout all levels of the organization, cascading down to the front-line employee.

We Focus on a Paradigm Shift
from Fear to Strength

        Users are the biggest chink in your cyber defense. We provide users with increased security awareness and set in place some simple techniques that turn your biggest weakness into your biggest cyber tool strength: A Human Intrusion Detection System of Continuous Hunting, not just Monitoring! We teach and empower users to “Hunt” their network from the inside out, to reverse the roles and make the attackers their prey. We show them how to “Harden” their networks using layers of cyber defense and a compliment of tools many of which are free and easily accessible. If an organization experiences a system breach or data compromise, we help them “Heal” by providing triage support based on the severity of their condition to recover data and services and determine the root cause of the problem.

We Emphasize Four Pillars of Power

We offer a progressive complement of services, meeting companies where they are and walking with them through their proactive cybersecurity empowerment journey in a four-step process:

  1. Educate – To increase awareness & understanding
  2. Equip – Provide training, guidelines, processes & practices
  3. Enable – Offer tools, tactics, techniques & procedures
  4. Empower – Facilitate, follow-up, mentor & support

        These services are provided throughout the organizational structure with education & training offerings from the C-Suite down to the entry level employee. This approach has a compounded effect that culminates in creating a proactive cybersecurity approach; an increased cyber defense, more cybersecurity situational awareness, preparedness, and vigilance that permeates throughout the company. This is exactly the approach we take in defending our own corporate network and information. Let us do the same for you!

If you want to learn more about the current DFARS/NIST 800-171/CMMC landscape, or how to build a proactive CMMC-compliant cybersecurity program, grab a seat in one of our Workshops. Or, drop us a line; we love talking about all this stuff!

–Adam Austin
Cybersecurity Lead


Updated 5/25/2022

Graphic depicting Totem's roadmap to CMMC compliance

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