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Cybersecurity & C-Suite: Why Executives Should Take the Lead

Enterprises of all sizes need to be cyber resilient, but who should take the lead? Here's why the whole C-Suite needs to get more involved in the fight against cyberattacks – both inside and out.

Steve Durbin

May 29, 2018

4 Min Read

The pace and scale of information security threats continues to accelerate, endangering the integrity and reputation of today's most trusted organizations. Businesses are struggling to cope with the quantum speed and sophistication of global cyberattacks being carried out by organized cybercriminal syndicates.

Moving forward, businesses need to prepare to be targeted at any time, and any place, by multiple assailants. (See Equifax Taps Former Home Depot Security Chief as New CISO.)

Organizations that wish to keep pace with these developments, and remain financially viable, need to take action now, or face the consequences. With the speed and complexity of the security threat landscape changing on a daily basis, those organizations that don't prepare will be left behind in the wake of reputational and financial damage.

Reducing the attack risk
Today, risk management largely focuses on achieving security through the management and control of known risks.

(Source: iStock)

(Source: iStock)

The rapid evolution of opportunities and risks in cyberspace is outpacing this approach and it no longer provides the required protection. Cyber resilience requires recognition that organizations must prepare now to deal with severe impacts from cyber threats that are impossible to predict.

Organizations must extend risk management to include risk resilience, in order to manage, respond and mitigate any negative impacts of cyberspace activity.

Cyber resilience also requires that organizations have the agility to prevent, detect and respond quickly and effectively, not just to incidents, but also to the consequences of the incidents.

This means assembling multidisciplinary teams from businesses and functions across the organization, and beyond, to develop and test plans for when breaches and attacks occur. This team should be able to respond quickly to an incident by communicating with all parts of the organization, individuals who might have been compromised, shareholders, regulators and other stakeholders who might be affected.

Cyber resilience is all about ensuring the sustainability and success of an organization, even when it has been subjected to the almost inescapable attack.

By adopting a realistic, broad-based, collaborative approach to cyber security and resilience, government departments, regulators, senior business managers and information security professionals will be better able to understand the true nature of cyber threats and respond quickly and appropriately.

The need for security standards
Business leaders recognize the enormous benefits of cyberspace and how the Internet greatly increases innovation, collaboration, productivity, competitiveness and engagement with customers.

Unfortunately, these executives have difficulty assessing the risks versus the rewards. One thing that organizations must do is ensure they have standard security measures in place.

In preparation for making your organization more cyber resilient, here is a list of next steps that I believe businesses should implement to better prepare themselves:

  • Focus on the Basics: This includes looking at people and technology, and adopting policies and procedures to engage the business' security concerns.

  • Adopt Policies and Procedures to Engage: Businesses need to prepare for the future, as well as be ready to support new initiatives.

  • Change Your Thinking About Cyberthreats: Think hard about risk and resilience.

  • Reassess the Risks to Your Organization -- Inside and Out: Don't be afraid to share intelligence.

  • Revise Information Security Arrangements: Collaborate with colleagues and share insight, and use those relationships to understand your vulnerabilities.

Organizations of all sizes need to ensure they are fully prepared to deal with these ever-emerging challenges by equipping themselves to better deal with attacks on their business as well as their reputation.

It may seem obvious, but the faster response you have, the better your outcome will be.

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Steve Durbin is managing director of the Information Security Forum. His main areas of focus include strategy, information technology, cybersecurity and the emerging security threat landscape across both the corporate and personal environments. He is a frequent speaker and commentator on technology and security issues. Previously, he was a senior vice president at Gartner.

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About the Author(s)

Steve Durbin

CEO, Information Security Forum

Steve Durbin is CEO of the Information Security Forum, an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to investigating, clarifying, and resolving key issues in information security and risk management by developing best-practice methodologies, processes, and solutions that meet the business needs of its members. He is a frequent speaker on the Board's role in cybersecurity and technology.

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