Cybersecurity is now a C-Suite concern. Major business disruptions, compromised customer data, bank heists and even state-sponsored hacks have prompted boards and CEOs to action.
In the past few years, organizations have been scrambling to recruit Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs). Accountability for cyber risk has risen as the number and magnitude of attacks has climbed well past the nuisance level into the sphere of major business risk.
How effective this management strategy will be in arresting the modern plague of cybercrime remains to be seen. A recently published global survey of C-Suite level executives and IT decision-makers1 (ITDMs) revealed a large gap in assessments of cyberthreats, costs and areas of responsibilities. Here are three of the most significant disconnects:
There is a significant lack of understanding when it comes to the cost of a successful breach, which many underestimate. Yes, cyber thieves can steal money and data. But a successful cyberattack can have more far-reaching implications – think market value, business cancellations and regulatory fines – even the failure of a strategic investment or merger.
It is no surprise to find differences between the strategic visions of the C-Suite and the real-world experiences of IT specialists. Because of their roles and responsibilities, they tend to think differently about risks and how threats affect business and technology. The priorities of the two groups are askew – C-Suite executives are charged with minimizing business risk; IT is responsible for delivering the optimum technological support for the business.
The research clearly showed that when it comes to cybersecurity, the two groups could do a better job at harmonizing their disparate views in the interest of protecting their organizations. They both agreed on this – 60 percent of C-Suite executives and 66 percent of ITDMs fear their businesses will be targeted for a cyberattack in the next 12 months, and each group believes the frequency and severity of attacks will increase.
What best practices can an organization implement to get on the same page and ensure effective cyber risk management?
First, the C-Suite should participate in incident response exercises. Top executives, not just IT personnel, need to fully understand their roles and responsibilities, as well as the full costs of an attack, which they tend to underestimate. Seeing what an attack looks like, even if simulated, can give the C-Suite vital awareness to help drive a top-down security culture.
All employees should be involved in education exercises to develop understanding of their organization’s cyber exposure and how attackers can exploit the information they gather. These exercises should use real-world examples of what can be found within the organization.
Organizations should explore using more automated processes, which are constantly being updated and perfected by cybersecurity professionals, to scan for threat intelligence as well as to triage breaches efficiently. With the proliferation of ransomware attacks recently, data needs to be backed up and stored in protected locations to ensure it isn’t encrypted during an attack.
It should be assumed that every organization will be attacked and likely breached at some point. New security initiatives should focus on reducing the time it takes to discover and then contain and remediate unwanted activity. Taking a collaborative, proactive approach and working to understand new, unknown cyber threats should be high priorities for both C-Suite and IT decision-makers.
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter for more GRC articles, job postings, GRC events, white papers & more…..click here
Colin McKinty is VP of Cyber Security Strategy, Americas at BAE Systems. He has held various roles at the company in the both the US and UK. Upon completing a Master’s of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, he then went on to receive his Ph.D. from the University of Surrey (U.K.) in 2001. He has spent more than a decade helping a wide range of customers enhance and protect their organizations with information intelligence and advanced analytic tools and processes.
He moved from the company’s HQ in the U.K. to the U.S. in 2007 to run BAE Systems federal business, which led to a new role: Cyber Lead for the Americas. This enabled him to focus on supporting organizations in the commercial sector. Since 2013, he has been the driving force behind BAE Applied Intelligence’s success in breaking into the security market in the Americas. Colin has a strong technical background with many years of practical experience developing analytics coupled with the business experience needed to speak with decision-makers at all levels of an organization.