CEOs need knowledge and confidence to make effective cybersecurity decisions, especially how IT will protect business outcomes
CEOs incorporate tech to serve the business; not the other way around.
Yet, with everything from managed security services and GCC High to DFARS or CMMC compliance, far too often the C-suite just accepts (or is forced to accept) whatever cybersecurity option is put on their desk. The argument is, “I’m not technical,” and it’s better to defer to advisers and vendors who know all the buzzwords.
That’s a fatal error, and an unnecessary one. That’s because the issue isn’t tech; it’s the threat to business operations and outcomes. And business leaders -- not IT or sales people -- best understand business outcomes. Delegating it to IT makes as much sense as handing off decisions around profit and loss to accounting.
Taking a risk-focused approach is more effective, less costly, and easier to understand than more conventional methods. It arms the C-suite to have a different and more effective conversation regarding cybersecurity that lets leadership take charge in a relevant way, instead of a hands-off approach that can put your company at risk. And it empowers CISOs to get their higher-ups to focus on actions that best serve the security and state of the business.
Focus on The Threat, Not Tech
It cannot be overstated: business comes first, and everything else is ancillary. The tech you select and implement is there to serve the business. The goal of what cybersecurity and tech does for you should be the same as the goal of any CEO: to make people more effective and the business more profitable.
In the realm of cybersecurity, that means goals should align with ensuring protection and continuity in the face of an ongoing and evolving threat. The high-tech processes and products being pitched to you are simply a means to that end. The question isn’t what the tech is, it’s how it works and what it does.
So, don’t be afraid to be curious. Pay attention to the CISO’s presentation at a board meeting instead of just wondering whether you have enough insurance to cover the risk.
Then, ask questions, and expect answers in simple language. Don’t be afraid to say, “That doesn't make sense to me,” and ask for a breakdown in layperson’s terms.
If an explanation can’t be understood by someone lacking a background in computer engineering, then the solution is probably too complex to protect effectively, or it’s not providing the best value add to your business. Likewise, you should be able to understand your plan well enough from your C-suite perch to map it on a cocktail napkin. If it takes more than that, then you’re not ready to have a cybersecurity conversation.
Learn more: Cybersecurity Risks are Business Risks
Seek Vigilance, Knowledge, Guidance
Plus, you cannot think of security as a checklist item that you satisfy once and then move on. Cyber threats are like the weather; they are constantly evolving and shifting and there’s always a new storm on the horizon, so constant vigilance and refinement are needed by seeking:
- Compliance, in terms of security regulations, certifications and standards
- Maturity; understanding what you are doing every day
- Effectiveness that can be measured and that actually works against the threats you should be concerned about
A Managed Cybersecurity and Compliance Provider (MCCP) like Conquest Cyber can help align and maintain those goals. MCCPs blend monitoring and management of compliance, risk assessment, detection and response. That way, you get help in checking bureaucratic boxes, staying aware of who is trying to do harm and how, and making sure you’re actually protected at the end of the day – every day.
Plus, your tech and cybersecurity teams should help corporate leadership understand and achieve each of those goals as the threats, challenges, and solutions continually evolve. Again, CEOs don’t have to know what button to push. But they must understand what real threats the button is addressing, how the button works, and whether it actually does the job. Tech alone won’t save you. Too often, relying just on tech gets you pwned.
You don’t have to operate your business with IT personnel and vendors holding a gun to your head, telling you that you need the latest bright, shiny toy. Your problem isn’t software, and it isn’t compliance; it’s the security of whatever creates value for your company, today and tomorrow. You can hand off that task, but not that responsibility.