What Is an Executive Summary in Cyber Security Risk Reporting?

When you want to communicate with another person, the clearest way is to speak the same language. Speaking French to the Chinese or Norwegian to a man from Tennessee will likely get you nowhere. Your audience won’t understand, will lose interest quickly and you’ll achieve very little- other than a warning to steer clear of you in the future!

Cyber security reporting is no different. The technical terms used amongst programmers and analysts usually cannot be used to convey information to the executive board or other non-technical audience. 

Many companies are made up of various departments that together attain the company objectives and form the company as a whole. Communication keeps all the departments in synthesis.  The Executives direct, plan, and coordinate operational activities for their organization or company and are normally responsible for devising policies and strategies to meet company goals. This means that understanding the feedback and reports from workers “on the ground” is absolutely crucial for well-informed decision making!

So what is an executive to do when faced with a long technical cyber report accompanied by endless spreadsheets that may as well be written in Chinese? (Unless he reads Chinese. Which would still not be ideal.) How should he or she extract the important data from less significant details? How can they apply the technical findings to company strategy and translate them to financial or business understanding?

What Is an Executive Summary in Cyber Security Risk Reporting

Cyber Risk & Reporting Challenges

Cyber risk has become the number one operational risk in enterprises today, so there is a growing need to address this problem. The issue has formed a very noticeable gap in the market around how to translate and communicate technical risk to business risk for Executives.

The company CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) is the go-to for all things cyber strategy and risk management. They will understand all the finer details of your company security posture and risk. Yet sometimes they may get caught up with the technical details without being able to see the bigger picture of how cybersecurity will affect the rest of the company. Other times, the CISO will have his or her work cut out for them trying to onboard the support of the executive to invest in and value the cybersecurity needs of the company. 

And for those who already have their executives on board, the sheer amount of technical data involved in a cybersecurity program can cause panic. For an executive whose success in keeping the company operating may rely on their ability to show the advancement of their cybersecurity program and its benefits, the need to understand the reports coming from the information security department is crucial. No matter where they stand in the company, both the executives and CISO want an accurate knowledge of the cybersecurity reality of the company.

We’ve established the challenge, now let’s talk about the solution. 

Keeping Your Executive Audience

An executive summary summarizes (as its name would suggest) a longer report or findings in such a way that the reader can be immediately acquainted with the material and understand it in the terms that relate best to them. 

In terms of reporting cyber risks, this summary holds extra importance in order to mobilize findings into concrete strategies to protect the company. Highlighting trends over time, pointing out financial impacts and tying the risk back to business functions and assets are key elements in creating an effective executive summary for cyber risk reporting.

Reporting cybersecurity risk to the board of directors presents vital information regarding cybersecurity threats, risks within a digital ecosystem, gaps in security controls, and the performance of security programs- all incredibly important operational factors.

Deciding on the threats that matter to the company and undertaking a comprehensive cybersecurity assessment are the first steps in measuring security posture and risk exposure. These findings need to be quantified and reported within context. A Cybersecurity assessment report executive summary should include the main concerns of a company and show both a high level overview and relevant details, as well as context and impact.

Being able to translate cybersecurity findings into financial terms can be done in a number of ways. The easiest way is obviously to use an automated compliance and risk management platform that will automatically translate risk into financial terms and save the CISO hours writing reports and making calculations. This will be pivotal in assigning risks their monetary value and prioritizing mitigation efforts. 

Automated reporting is a key feature to look for in a risk management platform. Using integrated frameworks, their reporting tools will be able to generate an executive report that connects cyber risk to real-world business outcomes. 

Learn more about Centraleyes’s cutting-edge Executive Reporting Solution

Specialized Frameworks used for Reporting

Specialized advanced cyber risk platforms often use the FAIR risk quantification to understand and quantify cyber risk and operational risk into financial terms. FAIR is an excellent framework to provide transparency and clear numbers to the board regarding financial impact in a cybersecurity board report. 

Environment Social Governance reporting has become a crucial part of a company’s long term sustainability. ESG reporting can be done using the SASB framework (for financial impact), GRI to measure and report environmental social or governance factors, or even CDP for carbon, forest and water related reporting.   

Use Automated Executive Reporting

Whether it is to secure your own company, to evaluate potential investments or to manage vendor or supply chain risk, well written reports will facilitate clear communication and the ability to make well informed and smart decisions. 
The Centraleyes automated compliance and risk management platform will take the findings from your automated compliance and risk assessments and generate automated reports that translate cyber risk into business terms, giving you the ultimate in visibility and saving you time to concentrate on running your company. 

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