Cybersecurity is no longer just an IT issue. Cybersecurity is no longer measured by who has a taller firewall. Cybersecurity is no longer an out-of-the-box one-size-fits-all installable solution. Instead, cybersecurity is now a complex mosaic of solutions, ideas and mindsets which permeates throughout the entire organizational structure of a company – from warehouse to boardroom.
So, at the end of the day, who is responsible for instigating organization-wide cybersecurity initiatives?
While C-suite executives, from CEO to CISO, might be responsible for spurring action toward shoring cyber-defences, an IT department is generally responsible for the implementation and maintenance of new security solutions with existing infrastructure. But, at the end of the day, it is the organizational board of directors who need to be won over. This carefully selected group of individuals, chosen to reflect the interests of company stakeholders in overseeing organizational management, are who even a CEO must answer to – including on issues concerning budget.
For a CISO intent on spending more on cybersecurity solutions, convincing their board of directors can be difficult. And, due to the intangible nature of cybersecurity, with no visible physical benefits, at least initially, emphasizing the importance of investing in said technology is paramount.
Here are some simple probing informational conversations you need to have to convince your board of directors to pay attention to cybersecurity solutions:
How much does your board of directors know about cybersecurity?
Before you launch into the meat and potatoes of your cybersecurity proposal, you need to gage how deep the knowledge base of your board of directors is when comes to this subject matter. Unless they have clear backgrounds in technology or security, it is unlikely they have a deep understanding of how exactly cybersecurity works.
You need to explain what cybersecurity is, in layman’s terms, why it is important and why cybersecurity is no longer just an IT problem – but rather one of organization-wide significance. You might consider throwing out some statistics regarding the negative impact of a data breach – like last year’s massive data breach affecting the healthcare system of the Canadian province of Ontario, for example, which saw the theft of 80,000 unencrypted electronic health records.
How accountable is your board of directors for data protection?
When a data breach occurs within an organization, its devasting effects are felt company-wide – including at the board-level. Aside from the potential for soul-crushing fines from regulatory bodies, like those dished out to violators of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), for example, mishandling personal data hurts a brand as a whole – with Echoworx data showing 80 per cent of customers consider leaving a brand after a breach.
As the directors of organizational tack, brand reputation is a crucial focus for boards aiming for business success. Investing in cybersecurity solutions, like encryption for communications, is an important step to preserving brand – with some solutions, like encryption, even mandatory to conduct business in some parts of the world.
Emphasizing the monetary advantages of cybersecurity investment
From regulatory fines to brand damage to just cleaning up the mess, data breaches can be like termites into an organization’s finances. Investing in cybersecurity solutions insulates your organization from the detrimental effects both before and after malicious cyber-events – and can even help save money in other supplementary categories.
Take our OneWorld encryption platform, for example. According to a recent Total Economic Impact™ study from Forrester Research, OneWorld shows a return on investment (ROI) of 155 per cent – and upwards of $2.7M in cost-mitigating benefits. These cost-mitigating benefits do not account for the hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of dollars saved by the risk-mitigating features of this flexible encryption platform – offering five different ways to communicate securely with your customer base.
How important is digital trust?
Every business wants their customers to trust them – a trend which transcends the digital world. But gaining digital trust online is different from doing so at brick-and-mortar stores. Unlike their offline counterparts, where brand trust is gained over years (and even generations), digital trust is fairly easy to get. But digital trust is even easier to lose – and impossible to get back.
So a board of directors needs to understand the brand value of protecting customer data as a tool for building digital trust. Nobody wants to work with a company which doesn’t protect their data. And cybersecurity investment is an excellent marketing tool for reassuring customers that your brand does. In today’s customer-centric world, with so many other options online, you simply can’t afford not to put your customers first – and your board needs to understand that.
By Michael Roberts, VP Technology at Echoworx