Making Cybersecurity A Priority In Your Business

According to a recent global survey of C-suite executives and IT decision makers, most executives still don’t fully comprehend the nature of the cyberthreats they face or the potential consequences of an attack.

Without the proper defenses in place, you’re putting nearly every element of your organization at risk. A cyberattack can cripple your operations, ruin customer relations and brand perception, result in legal issues and fines, and potentially destroy everything you’ve worked to build.

It’s much easier than many people think to implement a cybersecurity strategy. For instance, I worked with a CEO who was worried that encrypting his company’s emails would hurt productivity. We showed him how the process could be automated to save time, and now the company prides itself on its encrypted emails. The practice has become a selling point when working with potential clients.

It’s critical that business leaders make cybersecurity a chief strategic priority as soon as possible. I recommend the following three measures to begin that process:

Ensure Ongoing Communication Between Executives and IT Leadership

Whether you rely on an in-house IT team or an outside partner for security, it’s essential that all key business and IT decision makers are meeting and talking regularly with each other and with your leadership team.

In order for security to become an organizational priority, it must first become a personal priority for you. As a leader, you are the first line of defense against cyberthreats. You need to learn as much as you can from the people you entrust with keeping your business protected. The most efficient and effective way to do that is by participating in an ongoing dialogue with the experts close to you. Ask lots of questions and listen — the more informed you are, the more proactive you can be.

Build a Written Roadmap

Every organization has its own strategic goals and unique security requirements. Rather than viewing cybersecurity as an expense, think about how it can help you reach your specific business objectives.

Start by writing down those objectives. For example, many companies I work with are required to meet certain industry standards in order to operate. If your company faces industry-specific security requirements, make sure you’re clear about what those are so you can determine where to make the appropriate technology and personnel investments. Maybe your goal is to elevate awareness of particular threats among employees or to implement new incident response protocols or testing procedures. Writing down your goals allows you to more clearly communicate them to the people who can help you achieve them.

Create a Culture That Values Security

Once you’ve made cybersecurity a personal priority and have a plan for integrating it into your business strategy, you must communicate its importance to the rest of your team.

Employees at all levels and across all departments should participate in regular training to keep security top of mind. Dedicating a page in the employee manual to security protocol or putting new hires through a 15-minute training session on their first day simply isn’t enough. You and the rest of your company should regularly discuss your companywide security policy and participate in monthly or bi-monthly training sessions on cybersecurity best practices.

As hackers and cybercriminals become more sophisticated, inaction makes you vulnerable. Rather than expecting your IT department to take sole responsibility for securing your company, you must take the lead in ensuring your business is protected.

(This article was written by Adam Levy and was originally published in Tech.co.)