Would it surprise you if I said you didn’t need a dedicated cybersecurity expert on your board?
Don’t misunderstand: expertise in cybersecurity definitely is valuable to have on your board of directors. However, rather than identifying someone with deep information security expertise to understand and oversee digital risks, it is far more valuable to help all of your board members appreciate and evaluate the company’s cybersecurity posture through a general risk management lens.
A company’s security program needs to be contextualized in terms of corporate materiality for effective oversight. The IT leadership and C-suite should have the responsibility for translating cybersecurity implications to board members. Each board member should be equipped with the skills to judge digital risks and whether mitigation measures are appropriate for the business. Having board members bring their own diverse management backgrounds to help evaluate security issues can help identify gaps in the company’s risk management strategy that might not otherwise have been identified.
By making cybersecurity more approachable to non-expert board members, companies enjoy the benefits of a broader set of tools and experiences to evaluate and skillfully address potential pitfalls.
The Value of a Unified Risk Management Strategy
Weaving cybersecurity into the overall risk management strategy ensures seamless corporate governance.
In other words, the risks the enterprise faces in the digital domain should be understood and addressed consistent with any other form of risk that the organization faces. Cyber threats just happen to be found in the digital realm. That consistency is critical not only to achieve efficiencies across the organization, but also to prevent gaps in coverage. For example, investing in new cloud security capabilities may not be a priority for an organization whose infrastructure lives on premise, but if the company is rapidly shifting its operations to the cloud for pandemic risk mitigation, the information security priorities must be reviewed.
Once a shift to a consistent risk management approach is made, it’s easier for board members to think through the implications of cyber risk in the way they would for other forms of uncertainty faced by the company, without the need to necessarily be tech experts themselves.
The Value of Diverse Boards
Cybersecurity is like any other risk reduction challenge. So, while you may not have cyber experts on the board, you undoubtedly already have risk mitigation experts to draw on.
We’ve talked before about how security-consciousness is something that you can inculcate into your organization’s culture. You can do this through policy decisions, frequent security-centered communication, strategic hiring, enhanced security technologies, and social and behavioral reinforcement in the workplace, such as emphasizing personal responsibility and conducting regular cybersecurity “fire drills” to ensure preparedness. Having an overall security-conscious culture in your workplace—one that starts at the board level—is an invaluable defense against threats, both cyber and otherwise.
This is where the value of a diverse board can become a real strength. Someone whose sole focus has been cybersecurity can no doubt offer valuable insight, but this specialty will necessarily limit their experience and frame of reference. Board members from different walks of life and different employment backgrounds bring a greater variety of experience and insight. Having them incorporate an appreciation for cybersecurity concerns into their overall corporate governance and risk management responsibilities will drive efficiencies across the business and allow for more novel solutions.
Security and Overall Risk Management
An effective cybersecurity program ensures little things are done well. Addressing hygiene issues like patching, vulnerabilities, and proper configurations, is not the kind of work that is easily celebrated as an achievement but goes a long way to mitigating cyber risk. A comprehensive risk management approach, overseen by educated board members, should recognize the value in proactive risk-reduction investments (not just big flashy wins), providing invaluable support for IT teams to take time to do the little things well.
The challenge in cybersecurity is doing many things well - big and small - because of how adept criminal attackers are at finding weaknesses big or small and exploiting them.
Is your organization capable of addressing all the attack vectors, or all the security awareness initiatives, or all the detection and response capabilities all of the time? That depends. Are you prepared to invest heavily to achieve the capabilities of a 24/7 enterprise-grade SOC? Because that’s what it will take to really drive down risks.
But if you, like most SMBs, aren’t prepared for that kind of investment, then you’ll need to seek out a partner if you want to cover off hours and be able to address the latest threats.
How ActZero Can Help
ActZero’s approach is to partner with you to help you cover more ground. By delivering automated risk detection and response capabilities that operate 24/7 and are highly effective thanks to our deep AI investments, we free your team to focus on higher value investments to further increase your cybersecurity maturity. Our Virtual CISO service also provides advice to help you determine the highest value investments to achieve your company’s risk management and compliance objectives, and can help translate cybersecurity nuances into a general risk management framework for board of directors consumption.
To understand how you’ll benefit from our Managed Detection and Response service and by engaging with one of our Virtual CISOs, don’t hesitate to reach out to ActZero. We love helping small and medium sized businesses achieve their optimal level of cybersecurity maturity and enable their overall business objectives.