Employing and managing executive buy-in and support for the cybersecurity program is never one-and-done. It’s a continuous process that’s ever-evolving, much like today’s advanced threat landscape.
Getting the company’s C-Suite on board, understanding the importance of cybersecurity, and how their support and oversight is important to success is a framework for creating a sophisticated, scalable, and effective cybersecurity program.
Risk Based Security, in its 2020 Year End Report, indicated that security breaches in 2020 exposed more than 37 billion records – more than 141% higher than the number of records exposed in 2019. It’s also the highest number of exposed records in a single year so far.
Unfortunately, despite the ongoing surge in cyber threats, several businesses continue to underemphasize cybersecurity as a part of organizational resiliency.
In a recent webinar conducted by Apptega, attendees were asked to rate how strongly their executive leadership teams support the importance of cybersecurity throughout the company. Only 32% of respondents stated that it’s an essential priority, whereas 68% indicated their executives occasionally address cybersecurity but not in-depth.
The following strategies can help businesses get their executives on board with supporting programs.
Quantify the Risk
To communicate effectively with the executives, it’s essential to speak their language, which means aligning the cybersecurity threats to business objectives and the company’s risk appetite.
Discuss with the company’s team members and give real-world instances -like what could happen if they do not invest in the cybersecurity program. There are various effective ways, such as looking at successful attacks on peer organizations, including every detail like the financial impact on the brand and the effect on their reputation.
Businesses may also see more buy-in by personalizing the risk to the particular organization. Show the executives what is currently happening within the organization. For instance, attempted breaches, security vulnerabilities, or issues and describing what could happen if they were successful.
Improve Relationships with Program Advocates
While a business needs C-Suite support for success, they can solidify that support with a tone-from-the-middle plan. That means finding advocates for the program, especially from mid-level managers who are accountable for communicating across the company for day-to-day workflows and activities.
Simulate an Attack
Successful security teams are always examining their defense parameters, for instance, sending a fraudulent phishing email or ransomware link to see if the employees will join. A simulated attack can help a business to understand in detail what could happen without cyber defenses.
It can help assess how the team members react and notify the executives of the financial and reputational damage that could occur and the worst-case situation for a business.
Conduct a Tabletop Exercise
Using the right language and having it aligned to business risk isn’t enough. Putting it into action is a must. Unfortunately, several executives and board members fail to understand the experience until there’s an actual show. Hence, CIOs advise conducting a tabletop exercise and bringing the executives to the table before a real accident occurs.
Furthermore, invite the C-Suite and assign them roles and responsibilities, similar to what would be required during an event. Also, ensure they thoroughly understand their roles and what could happen if they don’t know what they need to do and when. These tabletop exercises are an excellent way to make concepts feed into reality without putting an organization in jeopardy.