CISOs and their peers face a challenge when it comes to engaging with boards to get long-term buy-in for strategic initiatives. Recent data breach reports and warnings from security experts suggest that the world is witnessing a surge in cyberthreats that could have devastating consequences for businesses. This makes it increasingly important for CISOs to ensure they have the support of the board and the necessary resources to combat these threats.
One of the main obstacles CISOs face in engaging with boards is a disconnect in understanding the strategic importance of cybersecurity. While the CISO’s role is to mitigate cyber-risks, they need the support of the board to effectively fulfill this responsibility. However, many boards still view IT and cybersecurity as necessary costs rather than revenue contributors or business enablers. This results in reactive budget allocations and an accumulation of point solutions that may not be effective in the long run.
To bridge this gap and gain long-term buy-in for strategic initiatives, CISOs and their peers should focus on several key areas. First, they need to speak the language of the business and translate cybersecurity information into business risks that the board can understand. This includes presenting data based on metrics that illustrate the performance and effectiveness of existing security controls and highlighting potential risks in simple, high-level terms.
CISOs also need to promote a shift in the boardroom mindset toward strategic investment in cybersecurity. They should encourage security by design and default, where security considerations are built into new business initiatives from the beginning rather than being added as an afterthought. Additionally, regular communication and reporting to the CEO can help ensure that the board gains a better understanding of cybersecurity and its impact on the business.
Formalizing cybersecurity programs and creating a top-down structure for cybersecurity initiatives is another vital step for gaining board support. This includes documenting and measuring cybersecurity programs against relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics. Furthermore, the role of the business information security officer (BISO) can help to bridge the gap between the business and the security team, turning high-level strategy into practical operational steps and embedding security into every part of the business.
While there has been progress in aligning CISO and board views on cyber-risk management, there is still work to be done in gaining boardroom engagement and buy-in. Many organizations will face a long road of mindset shifts and persuasion to ensure that cybersecurity is given the importance it deserves at the board level. However, with the growing threat landscape, it is crucial for CISOs and their peers to continue striving for board support as they work to safeguard businesses against cyberthreats.