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How to Effectively Communicate Cybersecurity Risk to Leadership

Your organization’s leadership (and if applicable, Board of Directors) have a responsibility to protect the company’s assets as well as the personal information of its customers and employees. And executives across the company — not just those in the IT department — play an important role in advocating for comprehensive cybersecurity risk management programs.

Especially if you work in finance or operations, your expertise and insight can be invaluable in shaping the future cybersecurity effectiveness of your organization. And with regulators including the SEC, FINRA and others keeping a close eye on cybersecurity, it’s crucial that you leverage your position to ensure your organization’s leadership fully understands its significance.

When communicating with management and/or the board, use some of the strategies below to ensure your message resonates in the most effective way.

Understand and communicate the scope of assets that need protecting.

If you’re a CFO or otherwise responsible for protecting your company’s financials, your role here is critical. You’re best positioned to inform the leadership team and/or board about the company’s most valued assets and thus what is most critical to protect. From financial records to employee personal information to customer and investor data, you have the most visibility and are best equipped to ask questions, set direction and ensure the company’s overall cybersecurity strategy is aligned to safeguard these areas.

A cybersecurity assessment and/or gap analysis can help you easily understand where your sensitive information lives and give your company a clear path forward to establishing effective cybersecurity controls.

Use real-life examples to demonstrate the liabilities of poor cybersecurity effectiveness.

Equifax. Marriott. Yahoo. Anthem. Time after time, we’ve seen organizations fail to safeguard customer and employee information and ultimately find themselves reeling after a breach. While the size, scope and nature of these real-life examples may not align directly to your business, they can help deliver a powerful message about security risks and the potential impact to business operations, customer satisfaction and marketplace reputation.

Furthermore, explain the impact cybersecurity risk can have on the bottom line.

Beyond the dire consequences associated with diminished industry standing, customer dissatisfaction and regulatory consequences (among others), there are real and serious economic repercussions for companies who suffer from cybersecurity attacks and/or breaches. Again, use real-world examples here to illuminate the critical financial hardships that can hamper businesses in both the short and long term. Monetizing cybersecurity risk can be an incredibly impactful way to show leadership how breaches, cyber-attacks and human error can negatively affect the company’s future success.

Conduct a SOC for Cybersecurity Exam.

As a proactive step, consider recommending a SOC for Cybersecurity examination to your company’s leadership. A SOC for Cybersecurity exam can fully assess your organization’s capacity for risk management against quality standards for cybersecurity controls in a constantly evolving threat landscape. This formal controls report can also help satisfy company stakeholders, investors and/or Board of Directors interested in formal validation of your organization’s cybersecurity controls.

These strategies, partnered with a comprehensive cybersecurity risk management program, can help effectively guide your company in mitigating evolving security risks and safeguarding sensitive business assets. To discuss a SOC for Cybersecurity exam or a broader assessment of your organization’s cybersecurity controls program, please connect with our team.

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Michelle Mackey
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