Monday, September 20 2021

Cyber risk is agnostic. It is a threat to any entity or enterprise with a vulnerability to be leveraged for gain. Yet, with such a pervasive threat, it is rare to find an organization that has a firm grasp on its greatest vulnerabilities, its key risk indicators (KRIs), and whether its cyber security investments are actually delivering. Without this information, executives lack confidence in the firm’s security and its ability to protect itself and its constituents.

Among the issues currently challenging today’s CEOs and executive team members, the greatest seems to be a lack of cohesive, directional data. Reports are too often constructed by technicians, for technicians. They lack the context and definition to guide boards and heads of business. Very few know whether their greatest cyber risk sits with a skilled criminal hacker or a former employee with a grudge. Without the ability to analyze risks across businesses, processes and functions, leadership defaults to a blanket solution, and not a strategic and tactical allocation of human and financial capital.

Under these conditions, resources tend to be directed toward prevention against any/all possible enemies, rather than preventing some and building risk tolerance and resilience for others. This level of discernment requires clearly articulated KRIs. Without them, funds are poured into a black hole of prevention. In order to manage costs, some entities are outsourcing their security oversight and audit, rather than investing in resident expertise, further distancing themselves from understanding their own risk position and framework.

To provide truly transformative cyber support and security, CSOs and their teams, working closely with CEOs, boards and executive teams, have the opportunity to establish a position of greater influence, collecting, analyzing and presenting cyber risk data in context and clarity.

By becoming business partners to their colleagues in operations, finance, and other key functions, they can deepen their understanding of the business and support the most relevant data capture for risk assessment; they can more effectively provide and package insights that drive change.

If you are not confident in your organization’s cyber security approach, you can do these three things right away to improve your position.

· Define risk appetite: All risks are not equal. Identify risks to the enterprise, determine which are likely/unlikely, which are fatal vs. survivable, and prioritize accordingly to ensure optimum allocation of resources.

· Foster cross-functional interaction: Connect those who gather the data with their constituents and task them jointly with creating a cyber security report for the businesses/enterprise. Working together to identify and measure

meaningful KRIs and put them in context not only aids evaluation of ROI, but fosters knowledge sharing that results in stronger, more consistent internal awareness and understanding.

· Audit regularly: Set a schedule for auditing your risk approach and, where possible, include a third-party expert in the review. Combine your expertise with theirs to ensure you’ve covered your bases.

Cyber security teams working directly with business heads to clearly define risk appetite, to jointly set KRIs and other metrics for measuring effectiveness, and to develop plans for improved vigilance and greater resilience quickly become superheroes and protectors of the universe.

Additional reporting by Elisabeth Buscemi. Editing by Carol McGall.

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