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Hackers Aren't The Only Unseen Enemy Behind Cyber Attacks — Your Board's Ignorance Could Be To Blame, Too. Here's What You Can Do About It.

Translating cybersecurity risks into board-friendly language is an art. Here's how executives can educate their board members regarding cybersecurity risks and the need to incorporate stringent security measures.

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The booming numbers of cybersecurity threats have compelled every C-suite executive and board members to pay closer attention to their cybersecurity hygiene. However, they don't share the same lens while watching their information security posture. And here's where a disconnect arises.

A recent global survey of C-suite executives indicates that around 71% of board members have severe gaps in knowledge regarding cybersecurity and threats their organizations face.

Whether we talk about data breaches compromising sensitive business information or exploiting consumer identities, executives and heads of information security (InfoSec heads) are already geared for the worst. But the senior management isn't sure why they need to spend more on their cybersecurity budget.

While InfoSec heads often emphasize security and risk management as a part of their job, board members often link cybersecurity as a part of their business but hardly consider it as one of the foundations of modern business success.

Related: Learn How to Protect Your Business From Cybersecurity Risks

As a result, their communication mismatches and challenges them to translate cybersecurity risks and potential business implications.

In a nutshell, no matter how much they're aware of cybersecurity risks and increasing threats, most board members can't understand how cybersecurity and cutting-edge technologies translate into the underlying business risks.

So, what needs to be done from an executive's end to translate the risks? Let's figure it out.

Communicate risks of cybersecurity through effective storytelling

The way you interact with your board leaders makes all difference. And effective storytelling is undoubtedly the best way to convince them.

Though storytelling isn't a new concept since humans have used it for centuries to convey a strong message, executives can leverage its true potential to help process crucial information.

Stories have been a part of our lives from childhood, and various studies suggest that the human brain is wired for stories. And a compelling narrative could eventually evoke an emotional connection and change behavior and attitude.

Now, while talking with your leadership while utilizing storytelling, you must ensure that you've done your homework to support your story to leave an impact. Otherwise, it would be good for nothing.

Share some data and insights, and talk about the latest tools and technologies that can be incorporated into your processes that could make a huge impact. Moreover, depicting your competitor's cybersecurity best practices can also help impact your board leaders.

Also, you could use real-life examples of organizations that ignored their overall cybersecurity hygiene, which resulted in financial and reputational losses. This could be a great way to reinforce your opinion besides the story you crafted.

Related: Harness the Power of Storytelling to Transform Your Business for the Better

How to prepare for your conversation with board members

As a board member, you need to be sure enough that you understand your board's mindset to connect with them at an individual level. And it would be great if you could first know how they look at the importance of cybersecurity and threat management for the organization.

Once you understand their perspective, it's time to create your steps of action to convey your message and ensure they're convinced that cybersecurity is an absolute necessity and not a luxury for your business growth.

Here's what you need to do before beginning a conversation with your board members:

  • Educate them about the latest compliances: Most of the time, your senior management isn't aware of the latest data privacy and security compliances. And this could be the reason they aren't in favor of stretching their cybersecurity budget. You must educate them regarding the latest compliances and the consequences of non-compliance. One great example is non-compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which eventually lead to hefty fines and reputational damages.
  • Board member's background research: Researching the background of your board members could be the first step to understanding their mindset and approach toward overall business growth. Analyze their past experiences, educational background and personality to ensure you hit the right chord while convincing them about cybersecurity and underlying risks.
  • Learn their goals and priorities: Another crucial step is to learn about your leader's priorities and goals. Do they often think about organizational growth without increasing the overall security budget? Do they keep cybersecurity as a part of their business but not a priority? Is there any way they could relate to organizational growth through cybersecurity best practices for customers and employees? Once you've figured out these questions, the next step is to portray your version of information security and its direct impact on your business growth. And for this, you can leverage the latest stats, competitor data and data related to the latest breaches.

And ultimately, your C-suite executives, like everybody else, would be convinced that cybersecurity hygiene is undeniably a foundational aspect of their business. It's your responsibility to ensure you're on the right track and narrating the right story through which they'll relate and act.

Related: Cybercrime Could Cost the World $10.5 Trillion Annually by 2025

Final thoughts

The modern executive's role is undoubtedly predominantly people-focused. And getting trapped between highly technical IT staff and leadership that focuses on growth while making cybersecurity-related decisions could be an uphill battle.

However, the key to business success without compromising security lies in incorporating cutting-edge technology that fosters growth, builds customer trust and maintains compliance.

And a modern executive must navigate business success by convincing board members regarding the need for cybersecurity best practices to jump on the digital transformation bandwagon.

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