CISOs have to position themselves as general business managers who support financial growth while minimizing risk
As digital transformation initiatives accelerated, the workforce became more diverse. And, as threat actors continuously improved their strategies over the past two years, cybersecurity has undergone a seismic shift. Businesses in all industries face new cybersecurity challenges. Security teams are under pressure to neutralize more threats with the same resources. ROI must speak for itself to support spending on a new security measure. The technology or process should offer a risk reduction that outweighs the adoption costs.
Few CISOs, according to research, are as interested in connecting security to corporate goals and financial results. Many experts claim this is a problem because security strategies are now a part of almost every business function. According to Gartner’s 2022 report on CISO effectiveness, less than 20% of CISOs have vital relationships with essential business executives. However, the company forecast that the number will rise to 60% by 2024 as demand for cybersecurity and business alignment increases. However, more than just face time is needed to align security successfully with business goals. Security professionals must also acquire hard and soft skills outside their well-earned IT expertise.
Information security preserves value by safeguarding sensitive data for the company. But with the correct tools in place, information security can add value by boosting sales, beating the competition, creating new business opportunities, and luring new clients.
Aligning security initiatives with the overall business strategy and having a well-defined, longer-term roadmap that directs the program over several years are the cornerstones of generating business value from investments in cybersecurity.
Here are a few tips for improving security-business alignment:
Being Business Savvy
Learning about the business should be the first step for any security leader looking to align security with business objectives better. As stated on recent investor relations calls, their organization’s mission and vision statements, the CFO’s goals, the board’s priorities and initiatives, and market and industry trends are all minimum requirements for today’s CISOs. These “critical inputs” should guide the creation of security programs and assist CISOs in anticipating business requirements. Like the CIO position, the role must expand beyond security operations to support the enterprise. Technical proficiency is no longer sufficient to support the traditional CISO role. To communicate security priorities from a business perspective, CISOs must be fluent in company operations, particularly finance-speak. Instead of considering themselves IT experts, CISOs must position themselves as general business managers supporting financial growth while minimizing risk. This may entail less time reading about the most recent ransomware attack and more time learning about the business.
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Communication with the Board
Communication with the board must be open and ongoing if the organization is to be truly protected. To gain support from the board of directors for their security operations center, security leaders must speak about the risk to the business and forge relationships with executives (SOC). When presenting ideas or requests to executive leadership, it’s critical to comprehend the target audience. Security teams must avoid overusing technical jargon to the point where they become distracted. Being overly pessimistic about the company’s threats when making a case will make it more challenging to convince the board to approve any budgetary, operational, process, or new security measures that could impact the company. Instead, be realistic about the threats the company faces.
Following a Cybersecurity Framework
It is time to map an operating framework to align the strategy against particular tactics, techniques, and procedures once security teams have clearly defined the most critical gaps, outlined timelines, and staffing requirements (TTPs). By using these continually expanding libraries of threat actor approaches, security teams can identify the most significant potential risks to the company and carefully rank their protection priorities. Another possible framework is zero trust. It prioritizes an identity-centric model that focuses on securing resources (such as data, identities, and services), regardless of their location, rather than on the corporate perimeter.
Create A Baseline for Security Maturity
After the executive level’s input in establishing critical business priorities, assessing the SOC’s strengths and weaknesses is the next step in improving the security posture. Businesses should consider their security operations essential to their daily operations. Organizations must assess the operational effectiveness of the SOC by examining which key performance indicators (KPIs) and service-level agreements (SLAs) are being met, just like with any other crucial business component. Establishing this baseline helps identify the most critical use cases and any cybersecurity strategy gaps that must be closed. It might initially seem challenging to figure out how to create this list. However, security teams will have a clearer idea of where opportunities to evolve their operations exist by measuring against metrics such as mean time to detect (MTTD) and the mean time to respond (MTTR) to cyber threats.
Strengthen the SOC for a Better Defense
A company’s offensive and defensive strategies against potential intruders revolve around the SOC. Organizations must demonstrate their ability to contend with a constantly changing cyber-threat landscape. Maturing SOC skills will help companies get the information and plan they need to effectively communicate security capabilities with the executive team and the board, whether they have a thriving 24/7 operation or a SOC team that can be counted on one hand.
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Consider Cybersecurity as Insurance Rather than a Goal
Instead of being a goal in and of itself, cybersecurity is an insurance expense. Cybersecurity insurance policies, like any other kind of insurance, will be influenced by a company’s specific operational realities and risk tolerance. When CISOs portray every security effort as essential to the business, they risk exhausting the executive level’s buy-in and creating fatigue. Therefore, CISOs must know their organization’s risk tolerance to customize their recommendations and choose their battles wisely. Risk tradeoffs must be jointly explored to determine the best course of action for the business. It is not enough to align security with business goals or for the industry to align to be secure.
The CISO must present an assessment outlining options and weighing potential outcomes if the executive team wants to think about taking a calculated risk. The CISO position requires security leaders to make decisions and identify risks even when they can access just a small portion of the necessary data. Businesses must accept a certain amount of risk to generate profits and maintain operations when in doubt, it is better to distinguish between security — ‘the what’ — and preserving the company’s business operations — ‘the why.’
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