Resources Cyberculture Leadership Starts With the CISO

Cyberculture Leadership Starts With the CISO

Cyberculture leadership starts with you, the CISO. You regularly communicate cyber issues and opportunities to your board and executive leadership. Moreover, they listen to what you say and trust your opinion. You’re now in an ideal position to shape a cyber-friendly culture throughout your organisation.

Yes, your plate may already be filling up. But it’s time and effort well spent – trust us. Activities that strengthen cyber culture are force multipliers for proactive protection and prevention. For example, employees will enthusiastically update their passwords regularly, not just changing “password” to “1234.” They’ll value the self-led online cyber training courses you send them. And they’ll know not to click on that phishing email that could bring your company down.

Moreover, building a cyber culture is your job as a leader. You’ve long realised your role is no longer solely about technical architecture and breach response. Today’s CISOs are also leaders and advisors in governance, risk, compliance (GRC) and business growth. And just as your responsibilities have increased with board communications, cultural leadership is the next logical step in your expanding and evolving role.

Here are some strategic tips to make the cyber culture leadership task more manageable.

Keep the board in the loop with good cyberculture leadership

Cultural change starts at the top. Ever notice how the things discussed in board meetings and mentioned in the proxy statement magically appear in directives, memos, KPIs and goals? When the C-Suite speaks, people pay attention, which means these issues have cascaded down to every employee at every level.

Cybersecurity works the same way. When your priorities become board priorities, these activities have a far better chance of earning your organisation’s time, resources, enforcement and action.

To strengthen cyber culture, the top things you’ll need to put on the board’s radar include:


      • Employee training: How is it being done, and for which skills and threats? What have the completion rates and feedback been so far?

      • Tools and tactics: What software are you using to safeguard data, protect IP and guard your perimeters (including third-party networks and edge computing)? How are you handling access control and physical security? Is it time to shift to new approaches or technologies?

      • Testing: How well have all of the above measures been working? Share snapshots of your testing efforts, and include penetration testing by an outside firm.

      • Your cyber team: Who’s involved in your organisation’s cybersecurity efforts, from internal cyber experts to external services in areas like monitoring? Is it time to review, augment or revisit these investments?

    Mature Employees Engaging in Meaningful Discussion at Boardroom Table

    Communicate your cyber culture leadership message.

    Employees in all roles must understand what’s in it to engage in your cybersecurity efforts. Here’s where the communication skills you’ve honed with the board are helpful.

    In succinct, jargon-free terms, explain to them:

      • How much business your company would lose by the day, hour or even minute if a cyber attack took your website down
      • How much a data breach would cost your organisation, in terms of fines and lost customer trust
      • How a rogue employee social media account could wreak havoc for your entire organisation

    Use statistics and examples. Tell a story. Leverage your organisation’s tools for internal and board communications; think of email newsletters, Slack channels and employee intranets. Dashboards, visualisations and customisable reporting templates all help to make your message resonate across varying levels of education and tech savviness.

    Throughout, communicate the business opportunity of solid cybersecurity practices and the risk of not having them. Customers will likely do business via your apps and online storefronts when they know their data and transactions are protected. When your company holds third-party vendors to its stringent cybersecurity standards, the resulting resilient networks and robust supply chains keep products and services moving in a reliable, timely fashion.

    A robust cybersecurity culture also brings several advantages from a governance, risk and compliance management standpoint; moreover, issues like data privacy factor into ESG disclosures, audits and regulatory requirements. The more your team shares its progress in working towards your organisation’s GRC, RAC and ESG goals, the more confident and effective you’ll all be at keeping up with these obligations.

    Cyberculture leadership transforms company dynamics, fostering competitiveness, sustainability, and economic security. This value proposition reshapes how individual employees view tasks like password management and online training videos. It also positions cyberculture leaders as team players, demonstrating their integral role in organisational success, and appealing to leaders in governance, risk, and compliance.

    Show how a solid cyberculture reduces risk

    Finally, make employees in your department and across your organisation feel empowered. Your organisation is doing something about cyber risk, and while it’s not perfect, it’s working. Be sure to highlight your latest activities for risk management and remediation and how they’ve been going: 

      • Detecting and addressing potential vulnerabilities and incidents
      • Determining probable exposure and loss
      • Reducing this exposure and potential damage

    Share highlights of both your challenges and achievements. Wherever possible, use visuals and keep your messaging simple. While your colleagues in data analytics will appreciate an elegant Monte Carlo analysis, others across the firm might find this specialised detail way over their heads and tune out.

    In conclusion, cybersecurity is a team sport. You, as the cyberculture lead, and your team must align yourself with the board, your colleagues in GRC and employees across the organisation to bring cyberculture and values into the broader organisation.

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