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The days when cybersecurity was solely the IT department’s job are gone. Today, protecting corporate data is everyone’s responsibility - including and especially your executive board. But what role does the C-Suite have in security, exactly? And how can you ensure they perform it?
The world is more connected than ever - and that’s simultaneously the best and worst thing that’s happened for enterprise. On the one hand, new technology enables greater collaboration, new workflows, and a huge upturn in productivity. On the other, cybersecurity has become something of a nightmare.
IT Departments lack the necessary resources and control to keep business data secure. Modern organizations seem trapped in an eternal war between security and convenience, which the former is rapidly losing. And all the while, the threat of a data breach or leak looms over our heads.
The solution to this state of affairs is deceptively simple, though it does require a shift in how your organization approaches cybersecurity. Rather than framing it as a technical challenge - as solely the domain of IT - you need to frame it as a business and cultural challenge. In short, you need to get the rest of your organization involved in protecting its systems and data.
Including and especially your executives.
There are a few reasons for this. First and foremost is the fact that to establish a culture of cybersecurity, you need to demonstrate cybersecurity’s importance. That’s impossible to do without executive involvement - if your board isn’t regularly discussing how a particular security measure impacts workflows or how a new tool might help improve the organization’s security posture, it sends the message that they have other priorities.
Second, thanks to technology like smartphones and the cloud, more workflows and processes have been digitized than ever before. Software and data are inextricably tied up in how most businesses function - and criminals know it. There’s a reason 2017 saw a 164% increase in cyberattacks and data breaches compared to the previous year.
“Ensuring that senior executives and board members understand the costs associated with a breach is essential to productive risk management,” reads a piece on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Website. “An engaged, proactive, and informed board and C-suite with a clear understanding of both their role and the organization’s security roadmap is necessary to mitigate risk and combat today’s cyber threats. By properly understanding how cyber risks can have a financial impact, prudent prevention measures can help stave off breaches and keep businesses safe, secure, and successful.”
Without executive involvement, you cannot reasonably secure your organization against both external and internal threats. You cannot adequately educate employees on the importance of good security hygiene. You cannot paint a complete picture of how security measures impact workflows.
In short, trying to secure your business without the C-suite’s direct input is like trying to build a submarine without blueprints. Sure, it might work. But it’s far likelier to just spring a leak and sink.
The good news is that it’s not that difficult to get the C-suite involved, provided you understand the following best practices:
- Listen carefully. Open communication is the most important key to success here. Employees should have every opportunity to make their voices heard, and executives should always be on the lookout for pain points in their organization’s security tactics. Remember - the more you can make cybersecurity invisible to the end-user, the better.
- Foster inter-departmental communication. The C-suite should regularly meet with the cybersecurity team to determine where their resources should be spent, where there are weaknesses that must be secured, and what improvements can be made.
- Reward compliance. Employee education programs should be mandatory,and staff should be rewarded for exceptional adherence to security policy. Training should be conducted regularly - not just quarterly or bi-annually - and security materials should be readily available to anyone who wishes to teach themselves.
- Pay attention to the industry. Last but certainly not least, executives should do their best to remain abreast of the cybersecurity space. They should be aware of the latest threats, tools, and tactics, and how each might impact their organization.
Cybersecurity is everyone’s job. There’s no getting around that. Without participation right up to the highest level, you cannot adequately protect your people, systems, and data.
If you haven’t already, you need to get your C-suite involved - because if you don’t, you’re taking only a partial approach to protect your most important assets.
About the Author:
Max Emelianov started HostForWeb in 2001. In his role as HostForWeb’s CEO, he focuses on teamwork and providing the best support for his customers while delivering cutting-edge web hosting services.