The 5S strategy has long been considered a reliable approach to workplace organization. Originated and developed as a strategy to facilitate just-in-time manufacturing in post-war Japan, 5S is widely used today to improve efficiency and overall productivity across many industries. Companies known for their precision, discipline, and attention to detail, such as Toyota, have extensively implemented the 5S methodology to promote clutter-free, organized, and regulated work environments. In Japanese, the words for the five S’s are seiri (sort), seiton (set in order), seiso (shine), seiketsu (standardize), and shitsuke (sustain).

Though the model was primarily developed for the manufacturing industry, the concepts can improve performance in various sectors. In this blog, we’ll explore the relevance of 5S in cybersecurity and see how organizations can implement the strategy to improve their security posture.

Breaking down the 5S strategy 

Just in time (JIT) is a concept in manufacturing that focuses on producing whatever is necessary to meet the demand. This means production is done based on what the customers want, when they want it, and with the quantity they want. The 5S strategy facilitates organizations to achieve JIT by eliminating wastage in terms of time and resources, while simultaneously enhancing productivity.

The 5S strategy includes:

  • Seiri (sort): Remove unnecessary items from the environment and identify critical resources that are required for continuous production.

  • Seiton (set in order): Once the items have been identified, it is important to set them in order of priority, typically having the items kept in their optimal places.

  • Seiso (shine): Ensure the production area is always kept clean and the resources are returned to a nearly new status after their use.

  • Seiketsu (standardize): Set a standard process for the above three steps.

  • Shitsuke (sustain): Ensure that the above processes are sustained and the organization focuses on continuous improvement throughout its lifetime.

The relevance of the 5S model in cybersecurity 

Implementing the 5S strategy can help improve the efficiency of any process, since the focus is primarily on ensuring continuous improvement and delivery. With IT being one of the core components of an organization, it is important to stay updated and relevant to ensure it is not compromised.

Here’s how the 5S model can play a vital role in helping organizations stay on top of their cybersecurity game.

  1. Sort: In the cybersecurity context, it is important to identify and eliminate unnecessary digital assets and data that could pose a risk to the organization. This involves removing outdated and unused files, accounts, and applications, which can include deleting unused user accounts, removing unsupported software, and eliminating obsolete files with sensitive information.

  1. Set in order: Post elimination, it is necessary to organize the remaining assets and data. This includes classifying data based on sensitivity and establishing a clear structure for folders and files.

  1. Shine: Regular inspection and clean up of the digital environment is essential to maintain a secure digital environment. This involves monitoring system logs for suspicious activities, conducting vulnerability assessments, and running scans to identify malware and viruses. This step can also help control cyber fouling.

  1. Standardize: It is important to establish and implement policies, procedures, and best practices to standardize security practices. This includes enforcing a strong password policy, conducting security awareness training annually, and publishing best practice guidelines.

  1. Sustain: It is vital to maintain what has been established and achieved, while also improving continuously to enhance the organization’s security posture. This includes conducting periodic security audits and risk assessments and updating and applying patches.

By applying the 5S strategy, organizations can enhance their cybersecurity posture, reduce potential risks, and create a safer digital environment.

Raghav Iyer
Sr. Product Marketing Specialist

  1. Lars Kristiansen