One of the biggest internal challenges that cybersecurity teams face is to convince their CEO that they need to take action. In most cases, CEOs are either unaware of the cybersecurity standing of their business or do not know what steps they need to take next.
The three most common questions that CEOs ask regarding their cybersecurity are:
- What do we need to know about cybersecurity?
- What are we doing and what should we do about cybersecurity?
- How do we assess our cybersecurity program?
As a cybersecurity lead, it is your responsibility to address all such questions by having the much-needed conversation regarding cybersecurity with your CEO.
In this blog post, we discuss the importance of talking about cybersecurity with your CEO and how you can prepare for this conversation.
Importance of the ‘Cybersecurity Talk’
In 2019 alone, the cost that businesses have incurred because of cyberattacks has reached $2 trillion in damages. You do not need to be a part of this, right? For that, you need a cybersecurity program and a culture for cybersecurity within your organization.
However, little can be achieved unless the CEO and board of your organization are more conscious about cybersecurity. You will never be able to address key concerns as long as there are hurdles within your organization. This is the reason it is vital to have a conversation about cybersecurity with your CEO.
For a successful cybersecurity program, the CEO must set the tone at the top. The CEO should understand the importance of cybersecurity and effectively communicate it across the organization so that the responsibility is shared by everyone.
To tackle the emerging risks of cyberthreats, it is vital to establish a culture of cybersecurity within your organization. Remember, it is not just about the technology, but the people as well who can be your strongest defense or the weakest link against cyberattacks. Such a culture can only be followed and endorsed if the executives endorse it.
This is one of the primary reasons it is important to talk about cybersecurity with your CEO and educate them regarding the core concepts of cybersecurity.
Additionally, CEOs can make use of their knowledge of risk management and strategy development to help cybersecurity teams establish the right disaster recovery and incident management plans as well. Once a CEO is involved with the cybersecurity process, they can ensure that all the appropriate actions are being taken to counter the threats posed to your business.
What you need to know
Before you engage in conversation with your CEO, you should be prepared and know the answers to all the questions that they might ask. Here is a list of 10 questions that you should be able to answer:
- What is our level of risk?
You should know what are the threats and risks that you are facing and how vulnerable you are to all such risks.
- How much of the risk is external vs. internal?
You should know whether you should be worried about internal threats (employees with malicious intent or not) and how much risks do external partners such as suppliers, vendors, and partners pose to your business.
- What is our current position to deal with such cyber risks?
You should know whether you have the right cybersecurity tools, technologies, and skills to deal with the risks and how sound is your cybersecurity program when compared with the global threat landscape.
- What is our disaster recovery and incident response plan?
You should know how quickly your business can react in the case of a breach and whether you are well integrated with communication and legal teams to address such events.
- Is our information secure?
You should know how secure your information is when it is in use, at rest, and in motion (from one location to another) and whether you are meeting compliance obligations or not.
- How do we enable our employees and educate them about cybersecurity?
You should know the steps that you need to take so that employees do not put your business at a risk and how you can protect your employees from becoming targets of cyberattacks.
- How much will a successful attack cost our business?
You should be able to answer questions such as: What are examples of successful attacks in the past and how much financial loss, reputational damage, and legal exposure did those lead to?
- Do we have to opt for cybersecurity insurance?
You should be able to discuss various aspects of cybersecurity insurance such as what it is, what it covers, what it does not cover, how much does it cost, and what does your business need to do to fulfill insurance obligations.
- How do we rank in terms of cybersecurity preparedness when compared with other organizations?
You should be able to answer questions such as: What are your competitors doing? How is the industry’s cybersecurity posture? Are you doing less or more than what you should be doing? What can you learn from other businesses and other industries?
- How can the management (and CEO) help with effective cybersecurity management?
You should be able to highlight the importance of the role that the board and senior executes play in overseeing and managing cyber incident responses and how their contribution can help build cybersecurity into your corporate culture.
Outcomes of the conversation
Now that you know how you should prepare, the next step is to learn about what you need your CEO to know after the conversation. Once you have finished the conversation, here are five general things that your CEO should understand about cybersecurity within your organization.
- You should be secured by design
Cybersecurity should not be an afterthought but instead should be a consideration with all digital strategies that your organization builds and manages. A cybersecurity mindset should be incorporated into the organization culture and when developing and deploying new technologies and services, security should be considered right from the get-go rather than being added at the very end.
- You should have an organization-level risk-profile that you can align security plans to
The risk profile should address questions such as the these:
- What are our goals as a business? Are we looking to transform the way we are doing things or are we in a steady-state? Will there be many changes to the technologies/services used by the business in the future?
- What are the legal obligations of your organization? What are the areas where we can take zero risks e.g. legal requirements of compliance and protecting intellectual property?
- What types of risks can we generally accept? Examples can be BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in which case the usability and productivity outweigh the risks to the business.
- The digital footprint of your organization is growing
A digital footprint is not just about the infrastructure you use such as the network and data center but also the information that you share with customers/suppliers/partner, the BYOD devices connecting with your network, the official (as well as unofficial) social profiles of your business and employees, decentralized technologies that your IT and security team may or may not know about, and the applications that you build for one-time/short-term use. As an organization, you need to have the capabilities to manage your digital footprint which is growing exponentially and extends far beyond the basics.
- You need to spend wisely, not generously
Your investments in cybersecurity should be made wisely because spending more money does not always equate to more security or reduced risks. You may be spending on the wrong things entirely that do not contribute to your organization’s cybersecurity posture at all. You need to understand how to spend money the right way on security for your organization and make decisions for spending based on your risk profile and cybersecurity posture rather than the gut feeling of the security team/management.
- You need to be proactive and intelligent with cybersecurity
Cyberthreats are becoming complicated each passing day and even if you get cybersecurity right 99% of the time, the 1% time that you do not can be disastrous for your business. Therefore, you need to invest in predictive cybersecurity that is intelligent and proactive. Predictive cybersecurity helps you stay ahead of attackers by adopting a dynamic cybersecurity program that can adapt to vulnerabilities and risks that your business faces. This will also enable your business to utilize its resources more cleverly and appropriately.
Cybersecurity teams can achieve very little without support and guidance from upper management. This is the reason it is essential that you educate your CEO about cybersecurity and why it is essential for the success of your business.
By following the guidelines we have provided in this blog post, you can get your CEO involved with your cybersecurity program and establish a culture for security within your organization.
Apvera’s Insight360 platform is a comprehensive, all-in-one cybersecurity solution that helps you build your organization’s risk-profile, conduct intelligent risk monitoring for predictive cybersecurity, and enables you to keep track of your digital footprint. If you have any questions regarding our platform and how we can help your organization to strenghten your cyber security posture and address regulatory compliance, please get in touch with our team.