Explaining the risk of cyberattacks to Non-IT leadership takes a strategic approach that focuses on information related to the costs of cyberattacks and the risk to the business. Non-IT leadership must also understand how comprehensive cybersecurity solutions benefit business operations and positively impact the organization's bottom line.
Rather than reverting to technical jargon when explaining the risk of a cyberattack, talk in plain terms. Focus on risks, opportunities, and strategic implications. When Non-IT understands the potential consequences of not being prepared, they can better understand how they fit into cybersecurity processes.
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For the corporate director, getting information on cybersecurity is lacking – making it difficult to achieve the necessary buy-in. A National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) survey revealed less than 15% of these C-suite team members were very satisfied with the quality of cybersecurity information they receive from management.
The team can become part of the solution when they know how they fit into the equation. Translating risk into responsibility based on roles starts with a cybersecurity risk assessment which provides a baseline of where you currently stand and lets you measure and set goals along with a path toward success.
How a Cyberattack Affects Non-IT Leadership Roles
Using the cyber risk uncovered from the cybersecurity assessment, break down how each risk would affect the departments throughout the organization. There's a general lack of awareness of how a cyberattack can directly impact departments and other roles in Non-IT leadership. Framing the conversation to the department helps your fellow leadership team see the real impact and possible repercussions of not having holistic cybersecurity in place.
A third-party risk assessment tool based on accepted industry frameworks, like NIST, HIPPA, and GDPR can yield information that provides a clear picture, so everyone understands the biggest cybersecurity priorities and the widespread effect if risks are not mitigated.
Get to know your specific audience and create pitches with various roles in mind that will resonate.
Risk of a Cyberattack for a CEO
The CEO leads the entire company – cyberattacks can cause a critical loss of business functions, and operations may even halt. There's a cascading effect throughout the company – and customers may no longer have confidence in partnering with the business.
There's more to this story apart from lost business, the job of notifying customers, and a potentially expensive post-breach response: liability. Recent reports predict that 75% of CEOs will be personally liable for cyber-physical security incidents by 2024 – showing a seismic shift in overall responsibility to the leaders of our organizations.
Post-breach, the CEO has to interface directly with shareholders, customers, board members, and others explaining how this event happened and what was not done to prevent it. Share prices may dip after a cyberattack, or there may be other negative consequences on profitability, such as hefty cyberattack remediation costs that squash projected year-end goals.
Cyberattacks can come from various angles—and ransomware, phishing, and other malicious acts can affect intellectual property, trade secrets, and proprietary information. It can even eliminate market differentiators if stolen formulas or other data falls into the hands of competitors.
Risk of a Cyberattack for a CFO
Like other roles within the organization, the CFO also will have certain risks and cyberattack consequences that directly affect their position. The cost of a ransomware attack can include operational downtime, investigation costs, crisis communication costs, reputational damage, and lost business.
Forensics, or investigating the cyberattack after the fact, can be expensive and lengthy, and recovery and remediation costs are high. Hardware, software, and security solutions instated after the breach may also prove to be more costly than proactive mitigation efforts.
Some cyberattacks can stop the ability to receive payments, widening the breach to the company's cost centers.
Risk of a Cyberattack for HR
Human resources departments are the connection between employees and management. This department is often charged with enforcing cybersecurity policies and training as well as technology and data use.
A cyberattack for HR means meeting interruptions and disrupting the daily flow of business to address a crisis. HR is legally required to inform employees of any data breach or leaked employee data and alert them to potential problems with payroll, such as direct deposit payments or other benefits.
Risk of a Cyberattack for Legal/Compliance
The risk of a cyberattack can be complex for legal and compliance roles. These stakeholders must know how to navigate the potential legal consequences while levying a legal defense. Incidents need to be reported to authorities, and other government-specific notifications – in the example of GDPR – may be required within a certain timeframe, with fines levied on the company. In the aftermath, credit monitoring may have to be offered to employees and customers – and there's also the possibility of breaches of a contract if remediation determines certain cybersecurity safeguards were assumed but not taken.
Risk of a Cyberattack for Marketing/PR
For the public-facing part of the company – marketing and public relations – the risk of a cyberattack can swing these stakeholders into a costly crisis mode. The marketing and public relations department will need to divert all its resources to mitigating bad publicity and the effects on the company's reputation, addressing the media with press announcements, and answering an onslaught of calls and queries.
There are also the ambulance chasers – competitors who may try to benefit from your misfortune by claiming customers wouldn't have had the same issue if using their service/product. Having robust cybersecurity provides a competitive advantage – but when it's assumed and not part of the solution, it can also work to the company's detriment.
Measuring the current state of cybersecurity risk for every role within the organization begins with a cybersecurity assessment tool that follows industry standards, compliances, and certifications. This first step helps establish cybersecurity priorities. Vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, phishing simulations, and stolen password scanning further identify and shore up potential weaknesses. With policies, training, awareness, and other continuous improvement tools and strategies, Non-IT Leadership will see and assume their role in achieving a safer, more profitable company.
- The risk of a cyberattack is assimilated in different ways within the organization, depending on the employee's role. Each role needs to clearly understand the potential risks from the CEO to operations, financial, HR, sales, marketing, and public relations.
- Recent reports predict that 75% of CEOs will be personally liable for cyber-physical security incidents by 2024 – showing a definite shift in overall responsibility regarding the risk of a cyberattack.
- A cyberattack has a cascading effect throughout a company. Ransomware, phishing, and other malicious acts can affect intellectual property, trade secrets, and proprietary information – and even take away a company's market differentiators.
- Getting buy-in across leadership starts with risk assessments and other tools and strategies like training and education on companywide policy.