Data leaks, online fraud, and constant network breaches are an indication that information security threats are real and present danger facing global business. It has become necessary to address this at the highest corporate management level. Every time security breaches happen, companies suffer the loss of resources and reputation sometimes irreparably.
The damage this does to a company’s reputation negatively affects its capacity to continue business with suppliers and clients alike, leaving uncertainty and possible collapse in its wake. Shareholders now demand that the information security buck stops at the CEO’s desk for accountability.
Even with a competent CISO and IT team in place, the CEO must know at the very least what questions to ask. Here are the basic five things every CEO should know about cybersecurity to protect their business.
Know the scope of your data inventory
You cannot protect what you do not know. It is, therefore, important that the CEO directs the IT team to compile a comprehensive inventory of the company’s data. It is then recommended that this inventory be properly organized into datasets with a clear description of content, licenses, and source, including any other pertinent information.
Remember that forgotten outdated software and hardware components provide a backdoor into your system for hackers just as new additions present unknown vulnerability.
The CEO must put in place an IT asset management policy to guide any future audit of the company’s information security systems. This policy must define such articles as:
- Applicability and definitions
- Policy statement and inventory information
- General and Managerial responsibilities
- Information security responsibility
- Data handlers and stakeholders responsibilities
- Data inventory uses
With this implemented, it is easy for the CEO to follow and question the actions of the IT team without settling for vague answers. ITAM solutions are effective if cybersecurity assessment capacity for early detection of security threats is incorporated in the system.
Know the data inventory chain
The key responsibility of a CEO is an oversight and that means you do not have to understand every technical detail but know how to direct those charged with such responsibility to get it right. Therefore, once you have developed a working data inventory policy and same inventory compiled, you need to know its geography against a four-point checklist.
- What data do you store?
- Where in the system is it stored?
- Who has access and levels of sharing?
- Why do you need certain data?
Critical data like the IPs (Intellectual property) and PII used on your system should clearly be identified because if exposed, they provide the easiest route for hackers into the company’s database. Ensure that sensitive IP data is securely stored, preferably in segmented storage in a trusted network with restricted access.
You may want to look up the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to know what you need to do in protecting personally identifiable information or PII. It is recommended that morph the monitoring and reporting process with logging for faster response to emerging threats.
How well is your system protection implemented?
During data system reviews, let your IT team walk you through the measures put in place to secure data. Ask pertinent questions to confirm the efficacy of the measures taken and the level of preparedness against hostile incidents.
The threat landscape currently is complex and continuously evolving, such that a prudent CEO must drive the IT team to stay ahead of hackers at all times. This calls for ongoing evaluation of internal security capacity with a view to keep updating where and when necessary.
Gerard Stokes, IT manager for Essay Writing UK, has a point to share. He says, one worrying thing for any CEO is that it generally takes about 200 days from breach to discovery and a further 60 days after to mitigate the invasion fully. That is practically nine months the company’s crucial data is in unauthorized hands!’’
Plan ahead for emergency mitigation measures against such incidents and have your team stay alert 24/7. The occurrence of cybersecurity threat currently is bound to happen to any business and it is no longer about if but rather when it does.
Stay a step ahead always. Use only trusted resources for your business needs, outsource to trusted partners and provide access to reliable and authorized people only.
Audit your security systems
Impress upon your IT team the need to test the system for efficacy continuously. Ask for network reports to assess the information collected in normal usage to isolate and deal with anomalies that could be pointers to a potential threat.
Analyzing these reports can also help in understanding internal functions of the business leading to better management decisions as an added advantage. Find out if the team uses external professionals to audit systems besides internal checks.
Find out if your hardware and software assets are operating within the recommended lifecycle, as out of date products are vulnerable to emerging threats. Frequently reviewing your asset inventory will help in monitoring what needs to be decommissioned.
Upgrade your hardware and network software to achieve efficient operation with current software versions. Ask to know what alternative measures are in place to cushion company operations against the sudden attack and possible disruption.
Do you have a recovery plan? How long will it take? Finally, have you considered the company employees in the security matrix? Train employees on the proper use of resources to avoid unintended security breaches.
Assess your risk exposure
Since we have observed that cyber-attack is an eventuality rather than a possibility, a CEO needs to evaluate resultant damage to company business and reputation should it happen. So, first, what do you look at when preparing a cyber-security risk assessment?
Itemize likely threats to your company in regard to the type of business activities engaged in. Next, look at vulnerabilities in your systems, both internal and external. After identifying these vulnerabilities, evaluate the likelihood of a breach and quantify the damage. These alongside National Institute of Standards and Technology guidelines will help you perform a credible risk assessment.
Let it be company policy that frequent risk assessment is done to stay relevant to changing times and emerging threats. Save your business from possible financial and reputational ruin by timely and appropriate intervention and risk resilience.
Emphasize on preparedness and continuous assessment of threat vectors to preempt hostile invasion. It is a prudent business strategy to invest handsomely in data security to protect the company’s fortunes and secure the future.
Today, the global business is done online, including supply orders and cash transfers as an emerging mode of trade. This leaves companies vulnerable to cybercrime and potential losses. CEOs must pay special attention to this millennial threat and prioritize IT security for their companies, notwithstanding their knowledge of cybersecurity matters. Corporations have seen the need for accountability and vested this in CEOs who have to take this responsibility seriously.
Ransomware Protection Checklist
Ransomware attacks are increasing, but they’re not unstoppable. There is no single layer or control that can be implemented which will completely protect you. Using a layered approach to fight against ransomware and going back-to-basics is the best method to use when defending against attack. Download this checklist for a starting point to protect your organization from the preventable threat of ransomware.
Author Bio: Michael Gorman is a highly skilled freelance blogger, academic writer and proofreader from the UK who currently works at paper writing services, essay writers and essay service. He keeps himself updated through new books and the best of the digital magazines, which makes him a prolific writer to work with. Feel free to reach him via Facebook or Twitter.
Michael is a guest blogger. All opinions are his own.