Struggling to Fix Cyber Governance? Here Are the Most Powerful Strategies

Definition of Cyber Governance

Cyber security governance provides a strategic view of how an organization controls its security, defines its risk appetite, builds control frameworks, and establishes who is responsible for making decisions. Effective governance will also ensure that cyber security activities help to support the organization’s strategic goals.

Governance in cyber security forms a considerable part of conversations at executive meetings as the responsibility falls on the highest levels of an organization. While IT security once fell under the helm of technical and operational teams, nowadays, higher levels of management are getting involved, with key players like CSIOs, CIOs, and CROs bringing the subject to the management.

In short, cyber governance describes all the decisions, both long and short-term, that an organization must make to secure and protect its IT and information systems.

Struggling to Fix Cyber Governance? Here Are the Most Powerful Strategies

Board Blunders

Today, many businesses acknowledge that the cyber security decision-making process requires the attention of the board. It’s interesting to note that just a few years ago, security teams were a lone group that needed to convince the board to give them a seat at corporate meetings; but that has changed. Now, board members are concerned about the serious potential impact of a cyber incident and take serious measures to create a culture of security in their corporations. 

However, even though awareness has been raised that cyber security planning needs to be at the board level, many directors still grapple to define a comprehensive governance approach to cybersecurity that genuinely addresses risk across their enterprise. 

What Makes Cyber Governance So Challenging?

Here we present a list of factors that highlight the unique nature of cyber risk governance. Governing bodies grapple with these unique factors that distinguish cyber security risks from the other risks they usually deal with. 

  • Directors’ Lack of Cyber Knowledge and Total Dependence on the Internet

Boards are often illiterate about cybersecurity. Pair this ignorance with the total reliance on internet access to deliver value, and you get a situation where the key corporate players are metaphorically playing with fire without basic fire safety training. This paradox is not true of any other aspect of risk that boards deal with.

  • Novelty of Cyber Threats

Cyber risk is a new-age risk associated with a 21st-century business that many directors didn’t grow up with. Business risks have pivoted from the material risk of physical damage to the enterprise to risk vectors that are remotely controlled with technical and psychological tools that are beyond the board’s expertise

  • Hard to Measure

Cyber risks originate anywhere from the human error of an innocent employee to powerful leaders of enemy nation-states, and anything in between. Additionally, the cyber landscape is a constantly evolving scene. The problem with assessing cyber risk is that cybersecurity doesn’t have a single meaning, and it is constantly changing. This is frustrating for boards that are bent on securing their enterprises to comply with the highest standards. 

  • The Scale of Risk

Cyber impacts range from “data breach with no consumer impact”  to “crippling loss of competitive advantage and brand reputation”. The risks can be minimal or existential, making it difficult to quantify and allocate resources properly.

Compared to risks that firms have managed for many years, cyber risk management is new and immature. Data security governance is still in its early stages and is not yet well grounded. This immaturity may lead board members to underreact or overreact to certain cybersecurity breaches.

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The Future of Cyber Governance

In the US, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)  proposed a historic cybersecurity policy that issued directives on cybersecurity disclosures in registrant companies. In this groundbreaking proposal, the expectation of the board is to better understand the cyber risk associated with that company and to look at cybersecurity with the same urgency as other business and economic risks. 

The SEC also demonstrated the importance of cyber risk governance as indicated by a recommendation for relevant certifications at the executive level. Deloitte notes that “the percentage of public companies that have appointed technology-focused board members has grown over the past six years from 10% to 17%; and while this is not mandatory, the legislation requires organizations to explain in their SEC filing whether such expertise exists on the board.”

Now that the importance of cybersecurity in the boardroom has been established, the next step is to understand the exact nature of the cyber security governance model. In its role of overseeing, the board not only looks at the company’s financial bottom line but is also responsible to control its IT security governance, including appropriate risk mitigation strategies and processes.

The following are strategies to develop a strong ecosystem that enables cybersecurity decisions at the executive level.

Powerful Strategies to Improve Cyber Governance

  • The premise that cyber security is a business risk that can best be understood by the board and senior leadership should not be taken for granted. Cyber conversations should get a prime place in all boardroom discussions.
  • Even though cyber incidents can never be fully eliminated, they can be minimized through secure, automated, and resilient cyber programs which inculcate security into every corporate decision. This is also known as a business that is “secure by design”.
  • Debate ruthlessly and make challenging decisions to build an adequate response to cyber security threats. Directors should challenge themselves and their executive management as to whether their response is adequate and evolving as rapidly as risks develop.
  • Frequently update and renew regulations, policies, compliance standards, and risk management strategies.
  • Adopt a cybersecurity framework, for example, the NIST Cyber Security Framework, to help structure a company’s cybersecurity governance policies. 
  • A good practice is to look at valuable data assets as crown jewels and have risk or value-based governance mechanisms surrounding them. 
  • Hire talented individuals to the management who bring relevant cyber experience to the table. Oversight committees should ensure that the management has the requisite skills and individuals for the appropriate jobs, which includes executive positions at the top. 
  • Use the risk of new technologies and digitalization as opportunities to face and embrace new risk vectors and come out stronger and better equipped.

Board Meetings with Centraleyes

The Centraleyes Boardview module consists of 5 focus areas: Risk Score, Compliance Status, Threat Level, Monitoring, and Operational. For each area, you can get a deeper and more granular look into the data to understand the analysis and processes that affect the data results. 

The monitoring view gives you the attack vectors with the type of attacks, proactive measures, and more context into the quarter-over-quarter breakdown, allowing you again to see your trend analysis.

These incredibly intuitive reports assist in better communication of cyber risk and illustrate exactly where your organization stands today, where it is heading and what needs to be done to make sure your organization is on the right path moving forward. After all, a governance committee needs to be thinking about where it’s going, not just where it is today.

Schedule a demo today.

Start Getting Value With
Centraleyes for Free

See for yourself how the Centraleyes platform exceeds anything an old GRC
system does and eliminates the need for manual processes and spreadsheets
to give you immediate value and run a full risk assessment in less than 30 days

Start building your risk management program
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