Using Cybersecurity Experts to Educate Your Board - Boardroom News & Leadership Insights

Using Cybersecurity Experts to Educate Your Board

In a perfect world, every corporate board would have the expertise to address every challenge facing the organization. But this is hardly a perfect world, as demonstrated by the rise of cybercrime. 

In America, the average cyberattack costs an organization $9.44 million. By some estimates, cyberattacks are expected to cost companies $10.5 trillion annually. That’s why boards should consider bringing in experts who can address the complex challenges associated with cybersecurity.

The Need to Address Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity should be a high priority for every organization, not just because of the financial impact that an attack can bring. Cyberattacks can threaten a business in several critical ways.

Operational Disruption

First, cyberattacks can disrupt the flow of business.

Companies have to redirect resources to identify and address the cyber threat. They may even have to bring their day-to-day processes to a halt in order to restore normal functioning.

All of these disruptions can add to the cost of an attack and further damage the company’s reputation.

Damage to Brand Reputation

Even if a cyberattack is no fault of the company, customers and stakeholders may struggle to trust a company that experienced a major attack.

This is especially true if customer data has been compromised, though even a disruption in operations may erode the trust that consumers have in the company.

Loss of Intellectual Property

Some cyber criminals steal financial data as well as intellectual property, harvesting data and content from reports and files. This can sometimes be even more challenging to retrieve than any money that was lost during the attack.

Regulatory Fines and Legal Challenges

Depending on the nature of the attack, your organization may be facing regulatory fines or costs relating to litigation. This important point highlights the benefit of being prepared instead of simply reacting to a cyberattack after the fact.

What to Expect From a Cybersecurity Expert

Outsourcing to an expert is a common business practice. Companies frequently look to experts to assist with such activities as accounting, HR, or corporate governance. Given the highly technical nature of cybersecurity, it makes sense to consult with a cybersecurity expert. Here are some of the ways such a consultation can help.

Education and Assessment 

The best cybersecurity experts will have two overlapping goals:

  1. They will bring in the technical expertise to educate board members about today’s top security risks.
  2. They will guide the assessment process so that executive teams can evaluate their preparedness to face these threats.

To that end, a cybersecurity expert can ask probing questions such as:

  • What cybersecurity protections are currently in place?
  • Do we have a process to identify and prioritize our greatest threats?
  • How do cloud technologies and AI affect our cybersecurity preparedness?
  • What protocols do we have in place to reduce our vulnerability to attack?
  • How does cybersecurity affect our compliance requirements?

The longer it’s been since you last updated your cybersecurity measures, the more important these questions will be in assessing your current and future cybersecurity readiness.

Partnership With the CISO

Defining & Maximizing the Board’s Role in a Successful Company

Consulting with an external cybersecurity expert may seem an odd choice if your organization already has a CISO.

But even your internal cybersecurity team members can benefit from an external perspective, especially one whose background can augment the capabilities of your CISO.

That also means that you need a cybersecurity consultant who can partner with your team rather than simply replace the expertise of your CISO.

The best cybersecurity experts will come alongside your team and allow your existing board to take the lead on implementing changes.

The consultant’s role is merely advisory — offering guidance that the CISO and board can later run with.

Regulatory Guidance

The SEC’s new guidelines require that companies disclose cybersecurity governance capabilities. A cybersecurity expert will help your board understand the scope of these requirements, as well as the best strategy for communicating these capabilities to stakeholders. 

To that same end, a cybersecurity expert may have unique insight into any regulatory changes that may impact the frequency or manner by which you make such disclosures. The larger point is that an external consultant can help you establish procedures to remain compliant with evolving regulatory challenges.

Response Planning

Unfortunately, no business will ever be immune to cyberattacks. However, a cybersecurity expert can assist you in designing a response plan to mitigate the damage.

Such a plan should focus on practical steps such as identifying the attack and seeking to contain it. Along the way, the response plan can also identify key points of accountability, ensuring that your organization works as a team to neutralize the threat and initiate the recovery process.

Strategies to Safeguard AI Systems

While AI has offered enormous benefits to today’s corporations, there remain concerns regarding the security risks of AI systems. This is particularly true for generative AI technology, which requires safeguards for users as well as developers.

A security expert can help companies identify key security needs and introduce safeguards that can secure their AI systems. One of the ways to do this is through Google’s Secure AI Framework (SAIF). This is a conceptual framework that assists organizations in the implementation of AI systems, with an emphasis on privacy and compliance. 

SAIF is built on a foundation of six core elements:

  • Expanding cybersecurity foundations to AI technology
  • Expanding detection and response capabilities to the AI ecosystem
  • Automating defenses to adapt to new security threats
  • Integrating controls for consistent cybersecurity across your organization
  • Adjusting controls for faster feedback loops for AI deployment
  • Contextualizing AI cybersecurity risks in related business processes

These priorities are only a starting point but are designed to help organizations adapt to new AI technology without compromising the company’s integrity.

Preparing for Tomorrow

As the AI revolution continues to transform the American business landscape, companies will need expert assistance to adapt to cybersecurity risks. By consulting with industry experts, your organization can adapt your current security framework to protect against the most relevant threats you face today and in the future.

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