As the CEO or technology leader of your organization, is cybersecurity a priority or just another headache for you? Here are 5 questions to consider that may make it less of a headache and more of a priority.
The corner office may have its benefits, but there are endless headaches as well. When you are CEO, everything that happens in the company is ultimately your responsibility, and that includes data breaches and the theft of valuable intellectual property.
Threats to cybersecurity are not going away. In fact, they are increasing with every passing year. Hackers and other nefarious actors are becoming more and more sophisticated, and their spearphishing efforts have netted everyone from bank vice presidents and board members to IT experts and high-paid consultants.
These breaches in cybersecurity defenses can happen anywhere, but they are more likely to be successful when the CEO involved has failed to take the lead. As CEO, it is easy to hand off cybersecurity concerns to the IT department, but that shortsighted decision could have long-lasting consequences for your company and your career. Here are five questions every CEO should be asking about cybersecurity and IT infrastructure.
Question #1 – Am I Storing More Information Than I Should?
That which is not stored cannot be stolen, and the more information you capture, the greater your cybersecurity risk. As CEO, you should be asking yourself how much data you need to capture, what type of information is included and how it will all be stored.
Walling off highly sensitive information in databases that are not connected to the internet is standard practice in many industries, and it is definitely something to consider. There are other ways to protect sensitive data as well, including sophisticated encryption methods, dedicated storage and simply limiting the amount of information collected.
Question #2 – Will Outsourced IT Increase or Decrease My Cybersecurity Concerns
From small startups to huge Fortune 500 from corporations, businesses large and small have been outsourcing their IT infrastructures. Those firms are rushing to store their data in the cloud and ditching their in-house data centers in favor of the new managed service model.
It is tempting to think those moves are always for the best, but that is not always the case. As CEO, you should be asking yourself if a move to managed services will increase or decrease your cybersecurity concerns.
While outsourcing IT infrastructure and adopting the managed service model can enhance security, not all managed service providers are up to the task. Trusting customer data and critical files to a third party could have devastating circumstances if the firm you outsourcing IT infrastructure and adopting the managed service model can enhance security, not all managed service providers are up to the task.
Trusting customer data and critical files to a third party could have devastating circumstances if the firm you choose turns out to be less competent than they appeared. As the CEO, you bear the ultimate responsibility for the protection of that information, no matter who is physically handling it.
Question #3 – Have I Adequately Addressed Insider Threats?
Not all cybersecurity threats come from the outside, yet many CEOs fail to address the risk of insider sabotage or IT incompetence. When the data on your network is lost, stolen or damaged, it does not matter if the perpetrator is a Russian hacker, a disgruntled employee, a recently fired worker whose access was not immediately terminated or a fat-fingered IT trainee, the results are much the same.
Addressing insider risks is the job of every CEO, and if you have not yet done so, a cybersecurity audit is a good place to start. A top to bottom audit of your existing protocols and procedures could uncover weak spots you may not have thought about, so you can take steps to shore up your defenses against internal and external threats.
Question #4 – Is the Legal Team Taking a Leading Role in the Cyber Security of My Business?
It is easy to see cybersecurity as a problem for the IT department, but the impact of a data breach or the loss of proprietary information goes far beyond the network infrastructure. While the IT team should be taking the lead on all things cybersecurity, the legal department has a huge stake in the proceedings as well
The loss or theft of customer data could put the business you run in legal jeopardy, with class action lawsuits and individual claims from those affected. Depending on the industry you are in, a data breach could also come with serious governmental sanctions. Businesses in the healthcare industry are at special risk due to HIPAA regulations, but those in other industries should be just as concerned.
Question #5 – Have We Invested in the Latest Monitoring and Detection Tools
The best way to improve your cybersecurity defenses is to test them, yet many businesses fail to invest in the latest monitoring and detection tools. The proper implementation of these tools can help your business uncover deficiencies and find weak spots, so you can tailor your response and enhance your level of protection.
Ask yourself if the business you run is on the cutting edge of cyber defense protection or lagging far behind the competition. If the answer is the latter it is time to talk to the IT department, and the board.
As CEO, your responsibilities run wide and deep, and those concerns include the need for cybersecurity. If you have not already done so, you should be asking yourself the five questions outlined above. The answers you give, and the steps you take next, could prevent your company from being the next victim of a devastating cybercrime.