Importance of Cybersecurity in an Organization

Security leaders are asked to present the current cybersecurity situation to the executives and suggest what needs to be done to improve it; they should ensure that they don’t leave anything to chance. Their opportunity to attract the board’s attention to the cybersecurity situation could get better if suitable investments are made at the right time. However, to make the executive understand the depth of the problem and the steps required to overcome challenges, security leaders should prepare well and create a detailed presentation that explains every aspect most unequivocally.

Most security leaders are tasked with presenting the importance of cybersecurity to the board of an organization once a year, while some do it on a more regular basis. And considering the current situation post-pandemic, communicating in a clear and detailed manner is the key to making leaders pay heed to essential things. Security leaders should also be prepared to answer questions of the board regarding the existing security situation and security strategy.

Security leaders need to keep the audience engaged and involved when presenting. Executives are more interested in knowing the security and risk management situation at the organization than they have ever been. Many security and risk leaders don’t communicate what they want to learn to the board. This misalignment loses the objective, which often doesn’t result in the changes required to align an organization’s security strategy with its needs. Security leaders need to keep the presentation simple and avoid incorporating technical jargon. 

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The importance of having a cybersecurity strategy in place is getting higher by the day. According to Gartner, around 40% of boards at organizations are expected to appoint a dedicated committee to oversee matters of concern related to cybersecurity. And this committee will be headed by a member of the board. In a way, cybersecurity risks and challenges aren’t just matters that need to be discussed at the enterprise level but are important from individual board members’ perspectives. 

But, how do security leaders ensure that their cybersecurity presentations are good enough and add value? The first thing they should consider when preparing such presentations is what the board of executives cares about the most. There are three things that they need to base their presentation around – risk, value, and cost. The presentation could either encompass all these three things, a couple of them, or just one as well. But, whether they consider all three items or just one, security leaders need to ensure that their presentations are as detailed as possible.

Security and risk leaders need to make sure that their presentation talks about how the cybersecurity strategy will support the business and its mission and values. The presenter needs to understand that too much technical information can take the audience’s attention away from where their focus needs to be. Also, the presenter needs to present in a way that caters to someone sitting in such a high-level position. At the same time, that should not make them compromise with the precise nature of the presentation. In essence, the presentation should answer questions about legal perceptions, customer satisfaction, and financial performance, amongst other things. So, what are the key ingredients of an effective cybersecurity presentation that every security and risk leader should consider when preparing one?

Security leaders need to start with something that could attract the audience’s attention straight away. It should give the audience a sneak peek into what they can expect from the rest of the presentation. So, it should be everything from cybersecurity risks and strategy to execution, expected outcomes, and everything in between. The presentation’s start is the presenter’s chance not to lose the audience in the middle of the presentation. So, it needs to start on the right note.

The next phase of the presentation should be a detailed discussion on how the right cybersecurity strategy affects business performance in the right way? Security leaders need to highlight how the security strategy and their team contribute to effective business execution from different perspectives – customer, financial, operational, and learning & development. For instance, the presenter needs to convey to the board how new security measures will help them with customer services and how customers will have more confidence in their services. 

In addition, this part of the presentation should also be used to target the potential problem areas and their consequences. And the presenter should have detailed information about what they are talking about and how they arrived at such conclusions. They wouldn’t want to be found wanting if a board member asked them about those. Security leaders should also discuss the impact of external events on cybersecurity, the current risk situation, and the cybersecurity strategy in great detail. 

The final part of the security presentation should be all about the call to action. The presenter should highlight the important points again and emphasize the importance of cybersecurity actions. It is imperative to end the presentation strongly to make the board trust your abilities and plans. Finally, the presenter needs to entertain questions from the board and then complete the presentation by thanking them for participating in the exercise.

Reference: The 15-Minute, 7-Slide Security Presentation for Your Board of Directors | Gartner | Ashutosh Gupta | December 07, 2021

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