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CEO’s Guide to Cybersecurity

Published on Apr 13 2022

A proper approach by C-Suite executives not only protects the company from financial and reputational dangers but also adds value in the eyes of its clients. 

A CEO is responsible for the company's overall performance and success. Therefore, when any unprecedented cyber crisis takes place in an organization, the only person to be blamed turns out to be the CEO. The leading cause is that overall shareholders and the board are not concerned about hired staff, or emerging difficulties. The major priority for them is their affirmation for data being secured and guaranteed of any unauthorized entity. 

A CEO is compelled to bear responsibility for every loss that occurs because of this crisis. Therefore, it’s important for him/her to have some knowledge about how to mitigate these circumstances and take the appropriate actions to prevent them. 

  

Major Challenges for CEOs  in terms of cybersecurity 

Incompetent staff 

With the rapid growth of digitalization and the lack of a capable workforce, every enterprise is slowly striving towards the trend of automation. The databases of the companies are getting larger and larger over time and with that, the need for qualified and competent human resources has significantly increased as well. 

A CEO should determine why automation technologies are important to his/her business and what immediate actions are required. In addition, it is important to consider whether it is practical to implement such a system in the enterprise.  

Many companies just enforce cybersecurity automation systems in their business which tends to cost a lot over time.  

Data breaches and other cyber threats 

Unless corporations can focus their efforts on continuous monitoring for cyber threats, data breaches will continue to be a main concern for them. As a result, it can have an adverse effect on the company’s hard-earned reputation and its goodwill. Therefore, a company must create necessary strategy and policies to minimize the possibility of such incidents. 

The rising emergence of ransomware attacks is another security problem that CEOs will have to deal with. C-Suite executives should be extremely aware of the necessity of ransomware protection. Such attacks could cause a huge number of data breaches and financial loss for their enterprise. 

Cloud security 

According to recent research conducted by McAfee considering the data of 30 million users, it was found that the cyberattacks on the clouds have increased by 600% during the first couple of months of 2020. Poor network configuration, lack of understanding of the cloud, improper management are also some of the problems in cloud security. 

Business Email Compromise (BEC) 

BEC is a type of phishing technique that has been estimated to have cost firms billions of dollars in the duration of just six months. Cybercriminals use this approach to impersonate business executives using fake business emails for financial fraud. Therefore, everyone in the company must be aware of these kinds of frauds. 

  

How Cyber-Threats could affect the CIA of the company 

The "CIA " is made up of three letters that stand for confidentiality, integrity, and availability. These factors are extremely crucial for an organization to maintain its goodwill and reputation. 

Confidentiality 

An organization must keep its data private or secret, this process is referred to as confidentiality. This means ensuring that only authorized individuals have access to specified assets and that unauthorized individuals are actively prevented from gaining access. If the company’s data is leaked to any other unauthorized entities or individuals, then the confidentiality of an organization is degraded. This could have a huge impact on the trust of the clients in the company, and also create a severe risk of financial losses. 

Integrity 

Integrity refers to the assurance that data from the clients shouldn’t be tampered with and can thus be trusted. It should be accurate, authentic, and trustworthy. If any of the data gets manipulated and fails to work as it should have, then this will have a direct impact on the consumer base of the company. There will be a high chance of clients switching to other alternative service providers to fulfil their needs. 

Availability 

Availability ensures that the authorized users get timely and consistent access to resources when they require them without any delay or latency. If attacks such as DDOS take place, then the company might not be able to provide a service to its clients therefore they risk losing their customer base. So, it is important to have a specific set of plans to follow even when such circumstances arise so that the loss can be mitigated or reduced. 

  

Things CEOs must be aware of 

Determine what security policies were implemented and why they failed. 

To understand why their company couldn’t counter an attack, it's important. 

  • To know what security policies, you had priorly implemented and why they failed, 
  • To study the existing policies and plans of your company, 
  • To determine which are the weakest points and what needs to be improved. 

  

Understand how the attacks work and how impactful they can be 

A company cannot predict everything about a cyber-attack. There will always be some points that cannot be predicted beforehand. Pre-examination of cyber threats to business operations is a good place to start, with descriptions of the sorts of cyberattacks that might cause a crisis and the variety of implications that can occur because of it. 

  

Conduct an awareness meeting between the directors and the CSO 

A CEO must timely discuss the security policies implemented in the company with the directors and CSO to determine if those policies need to be changed or revised. Also, in case of any cyber crisis, a CEO must report to the board about the cyber incident and propose the necessary actions that are planned to be taken to mitigate or minimize the loss. 

  

 What to expect from your CSO? 

The chief security officer (CSO) is one of the most significant appointments in any IT-related position. The CSO is a senior-level executive who is -in charge of creating and implementing security policies and programs to safeguard company data, systems, and information assets from both internal and external threats. 

However, the new executives are often found to be hesitating during these crucial hires and are often left confused and clueless when an actual crisis takes place. The hiring of a CSO is a necessity and the executives must understand this during the normal operational days of a company and not during a data breach or any other cyber crisis. 

The most competent CSOs have a strong technical background, but they also have business experience and the ability to interact with other executives and the board of directors. 

There are a few things to take into consideration while appointing your CSO. Companies with a global reach often look for candidates with a broad security management background, as well as someone who can evaluate leadership skills while considering career progression and previous accomplishments, whereas companies that are more web and product-focused tend to focus on appointing specific skill sets in technology and web applications security. Therefore, it depends on what exactly you are seeking in your CIO and the reasons for hiring one, however, the most common reason for hiring a CSO often is due to the necessity itself. 

  

Conclusion 

CEOs are responsible for ensuring that the company is not violating any laws, compliance frameworks and regulations while doing business and providing services. However, they also must prioritize cyber security due to the surge in cyber-attacks and the consequences they may face after a cyber breach.  

On the bright side, the risks associated with cyber security are measurable. As the head of the company, CEOs should instruct and keep an eye on their concerned top-level managers to implement and maintain the cyber security architecture of the company and follow the necessary precautions.  

  

 
 

 

 

 
 

 

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