When it comes to a effective cybersecurity strategy for board engagement, identifying risk is only half the battle. The next crucial step for a CISO is to share these risks with leadership, fortifying the organisation’s security posture, minimising losses, and maximising technology investments’ ROI.
Gaining the board’s ear and respect is essential for a successful board engagement in cybersecurity. You’re not alone if you’re worried or frustrated about this. Board reporting is a top concern for security leaders across industries.
Mastering an effective cybersecurity strategy for board engagement
Mastering board engagement is crucial for your organisation’s success and critical to your department’s future. An effective cybersecurity strategy can increase cybersecurity budgets and extend team capacity. Becoming more than just an advisor to the board and earning their trust allows you to thrive as a strategic partner.
This blog series is here to help you tackle these challenges and create an effective cybersecurity strategy for board engagement. We’ll explore the right frameworks and metrics, technology support, and how to unify and simplify it all for board understanding.
Flag your top risks
The board’s limited time and attention demand a comprehensive assessment to identify the most critical risks in the vast landscape of cybersecurity threats. CISOs should assess and prioritise the following:
- Valuable assets and capabilities to the business.
- Most likely threats and their operational and financial impacts.
- Reputational damage potential.
Different industries will face distinct risks. For instance, companies collecting personal data face massive fines and customer trust damage in case of a breach. At the same time, online businesses like Amazon suffer significant losses with even a minute of website downtime. Supply chain vulnerabilities pose a high risk for global manufacturers, while tech, entertainment, and pharma companies are vulnerable to intellectual property theft.
To focus the board’s attention and budget on the right areas, CISOs must understand the cyber landscape and their organisation’s business.
A place for a cybersecurity strategy for board engagement
To answer the board’s concerns about risk management and mitigation, CISOs must have robust security controls and initiatives in place. Compliance obligations, especially in healthcare, financial services, and government contracting, often align with HIPAA, FedRAMP, SOC2, or Sarbanes-Oxley regulations.
For structuring efforts, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework offers a valuable option for an effective cybersecurity strategy. Its broad risk coverage, focus on business outcomes, and before/during/after approach resonates with many executive leaders.
Your strategy should include:
- Overview of IT and cyber roles, responsibilities, and reporting.
- Specific areas under review, such as software, cloud solutions, and physical and network security.
- Utilization of frameworks like NIST.
- Training, certification, and credentialing programs.
- Protocols for breach response and business continuity.
- Involvement of third parties and partners in areas like penetration testing.
Remember, controls are crucial in risk management and provide confidence in technology operations and security solutions.
Measure the right things
The board will want to see metrics that reflect the effectiveness of measures and mitigations. Numbers tell a story, and CISOs should focus on the metrics aligned with organisational goals.
To measure effectively:
- Establish a baseline for progress tracking and benchmark against policies or competitors.
- Organise metrics by department or function, like governance or security operations.
- Focus on specific metrics, such as incident closures and counts.
- Correlate metrics to potential costs and opportunities.
- Avoid data overload and prioritise metrics directly influencing behaviour, business decisions, or the bottom line.
You’ve developed your comprehensive cyber strategy for board engagement. Now you’re ready for step 2, presenting it to the board. Read our next blog in the series for more tips and best practices.