Data security is more important than ever in today’s digital world. Cyber-attacks are all too common, and no business is secure. About 200 million data records from both consumer-facing and B2B businesses are expected to be compromised in 2020 alone. That is all that has been discovered and published. There will certainly be more, but most companies lack the requisite framework, as well as senior-level participation and funding, to effectively resolve data protection and information privacy risks.

How do businesses get ahead of data protection problems, both to avoid them from occurring and to minimize the negative consequences if they do? Perhaps I’m biased, but I believe it starts with the leadership team recruiting and empowering an experienced Chief Information Security Officer. A Chief Information Security Officer’s (CISO) top priority is keeping data and technology security in a digital environment, potential understanding problems, and enforcing best practices around the enterprise. Companies traditionally delegated data security to the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) or Chief Information Officer (CIO). Cybersecurity incidents are often cited as the highest business risk that needs to be handled, making security concerns a regular part of life for all C-level business executives.

It takes a full-time job to ensure that a company is properly managing and protecting data, and it affects every level of the organization, from brand reputation to customer services, legal, and technology departments. Consider it for a moment. A major data breach causes dissatisfied consumers, data loss, and public relations nightmares, not to mention straining relationships with any current external partners. As a result, a CISO must be able to efficiently communicate and execute solutions within the enterprise, ensuring that both parties are assured that they are enforcing best-in-class security and have a robust security response plan in place.

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Here are few considerations on how to develop allies in the C-Suite:

Build Healthy and Strong Relationships with the C-Suite

Without the full support and trust of the C-Suite, CISOs will fail. Any business, marketing, technology, and legal plan should include security elements. CISOs must therefore have a clear view of the larger business priorities and be able to contribute to strategic objectives with technological implications. Close relationships at the top of the company would aid in the successful and efficient settlement of security issues. Questions about a security initiative’s relevance, support, or usefulness may quickly derail it; the significance of data and information security should be ingrained in the company.

Sell in the Benefit and Importance of Data Security

Clearly, articulating potential or imminent data security risks on a regular basis allows you to respond rapidly to changing threats. Cybersecurity risks cannot be addressed solely by technology; a strategic plan is required. Getting ahead of problems early and engaging as someone who helps the company DO something rather than STOP something is critical to its success.

Develop the Environment of Transparency

The CISO must be highly open about risks, security capabilities, and the ability to mitigate problems to balance requirements and strategy in the C-Suite. Open and collaborative evaluations of products and solutions are needed. Besides that, since the security agency bears its own risk, its resources, efficacy, and efficiencies should be checked, considered, and ranked for full transparency. Keeping it secret would lead to failure in the long run. It’s important to keep the company informed, share any issues, and work together to resolve them.

Set the Targets and Expectations

It is impossible to eliminate all security threats. CISOs must shift the dialogue about risk management by including all stakeholders in active involvement and ongoing monitoring. CISOs should be given the authority to concentrate less on compliance and more on implementing a risk-aware, risk-based strategy across the enterprise. This would boost the ability to respond to security threats in the long run.

Always Listen to the Business Leaders

CISOs need to go far beyond just hearing what the business is going to do and what they’re trying to secure. It’s about using security to assist leaders in the development of strategy, the elimination of roadblocks, and the planning of what the company would need to do, rather than simply responding to requests. CISOs will elevate the thought process and clear the way for the company to execute openly on innovation by creating recurring assessments of risk and security posture and truly listening to the business issues that need to be solved.

Evolve with the CIO.

The CISO’s relationship with the Chief Information Officer is arguably the most critical in the boardroom. These two functions are changing as informational strategy, security requirements, and reporting requirements change, and they must collaborate to be effective. The CIO, for example, is no longer just a technology pioneer. Instead, it’s beset by requests for digital services that are reshaping the business model. Although working within strict cash constraints, CIOs must drive revenue, customer loyalty, and innovation. Making the CISO independent of the CIO gives the CISO more objectivity and independence, which should benefit the business.

In today’s highly digital, technology-driven economy, businesses face the substantial challenge. CIOs and CISO should be more effective, better trained, and cooperate in their approach to cybersecurity.