The C-Suite and IT Need to Get on the Same Page on Cybersecurity: How to Bridge the Gap
Cybersecurity is not just a technical issue, but a strategic one that affects every aspect of the business. However, many organizations still struggle to align the perspectives and priorities of the C-suite and IT when it comes to cybersecurity. This can lead to miscommunication, confusion, and missed opportunities for improving the security posture and resilience of the organization.
In this article, we will explore some of the common challenges and barriers that prevent the C-suite and IT from getting on the same page on cybersecurity, and offer some practical tips and best practices for bridging the gap and fostering a culture of collaboration and trust.
Why is there a gap between the C-suite and IT on cybersecurity
There are several factors that contribute to the gap between the C-suite and IT on cybersecurity, such as:
Different languages and metrics. The C-suite and IT often use different terminologies and metrics to describe and measure cybersecurity. For example, the C-suite may focus on business outcomes, such as revenue, reputation, customer satisfaction, and compliance, while IT may focus on technical aspects, such as vulnerabilities, incidents, patches, and alerts. This can make it hard for both sides to understand each other's perspectives and priorities, and to communicate effectively.
Different risk appetites and perspectives. The C-suite and IT may also have different risk appetites and perspectives when it comes to cybersecurity. For example, the C-suite may be more willing to accept some level of risk in order to pursue new opportunities or innovations, while IT may be more cautious and conservative in order to protect the existing systems and data. This can create conflicts or disagreements when it comes to making decisions or allocating resources for cybersecurity.
Different roles and responsibilities. The C-suite and IT may also have different roles and responsibilities when it comes to cybersecurity. For example, the C-suite may be responsible for setting the strategic direction and vision for cybersecurity, while IT may be responsible for implementing and executing the tactical plans and actions. This can create gaps or overlaps in accountability and ownership for cybersecurity.
How to bridge the gap between the C-suite and IT on cybersecurity
To bridge the gap between the C-suite and IT on cybersecurity, both sides need to work together to establish a common ground and a shared vision for cybersecurity. Here are some steps that can help:
Align on the business objectives and outcomes. The first step is to align on the business objectives and outcomes that cybersecurity supports. For example, how does cybersecurity enable the organization to achieve its mission, vision, values, goals, and strategies How does cybersecurity contribute to the customer experience, brand reputation, competitive advantage, regulatory compliance, and social responsibility of the organization By aligning on the business objectives and outcomes, both sides can have a clear understanding of why cybersecurity matters and what success looks like.
Translate technical metrics into business metrics. The second step is to translate technical metrics into business metrics that both sides can understand and relate to. For example, how does reducing vulnerabilities or incidents impact revenue or customer satisfaction How does increasing patches or alerts affect operational efficiency or innovation By translating technical metrics into business metrics, both sides can have a common language and a common framework for measuring and reporting on cybersecurity performance.
Balance risk appetite and risk tolerance. The third step is to balance risk appetite and risk tolerance when it comes to cybersecurity. For example, how much risk is the organization willing to accept or avoid in order to pursue new opportunities or protect existing assets How much risk is the organization able to absorb or mitigate in case of a cyberattack or breach By balancing risk appetite and risk tolerance, both sides can have a shared understanding of how to prioritize and allocate resources for cybersecurity.
Clarify roles and responsibilities. The fourth step is to clarify roles and responsibilities for cybersecurity. For example, who is accountable for setting the cybersecurity strategy and policy Who is responsible for implementing and executing the cybersecurity plan and actions Who is involved in monitoring and reviewing the cybersecurity performance and results By clarifying roles and responsibilities, both sides can have a clear division of labor and a clear chain of command for cybersecurity.