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5 key questions every CEO must ask about the cybersecurity program

Anthony Stevens |

August 18, 2022

5 key questions every CEO must ask about the cybersecurity program


The aim of cybersecurity is not to build an invincible digital fortress that cannot be breached by hackers, because it is simply not possible. No matter whether you have a small business or a large enterprise, it is impossible to build a system that does not have any vulnerabilities. 

The aim of cybersecurity is to understand and manage the risks so that they remain within the acceptable range. The goal is to build a system that is quick to identify threats and swiftly respond to security incidents.

Why is cybersecurity important to CEOs? 

Cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated and dangerous. The average cost of a data breach to even a small business can be as much as $120,000 to $1.24 million. No wonder then that most CEOs say that cybersecurity is one of their top concerns.

Even when a CEO assigns the responsibility of cybersecurity to the IT team or outsources it to a Managed Service Provider, their own responsibility doesn't end. They still need to be on top of things and keep tabs on cybersecurity initiatives.

5 key questions CEOs need to ask about cybersecurity

Here are the top 5 questions you need to ask to ensure your business is prepared to face the growing cyber threats.

1. How will IT outsourcing affect the cybersecurity program?

Outsourcing certain IT functions and using with third-party SaaS applications has become increasingly common. Thus, the CEOs need to consider how this can affect the organisation's cybersecurity program.

Below are some of the related questions that need to be addressed.

  • What is the impact of moving critical data from in-house data centres to cloud platforms?
  • Is the Managed Service Provider trustworthy and can provide evidence of enhanced data security practices?
  • Is it possible/preferable to retain sensitive customer data with the company instead of moving to a cloud platform managed by a third-party company?
  • Do all contracts with third-party companies adequately address data security and data privacy clauses?
Read more about how third-party risks can be managed - Managing Third-Party Cyber Risk in 2022.

2. Does the company have adequate cybersecurity technology?

Monitoring and detecting threats is an important part of cybersecurity programs. As a CEO, you need to ensure that the latest tools for monitoring and detection are available and are being used effectively.  By proper implementation, you can uncover risks and fix them before they are exploited by bad actors.

A good way to understand this is to find out whether you are investing in the latest tools and software which your competitors are using. Are you too far behind in the adoption of cybersecurity technology in the context of your industry?

Experts Guide to Cybersecurity Compliance  

3. Are the insider threats adequately addressed? 

An insider threat can be just as devastating as an outsider threat. Insider threats can arise out of deliberate malice or human error. Both these types of threats should be taken into account in the cybersecurity program.

This includes ensuring there are policies and protocols in place to prevent errors and that the employees are made aware of cybersecurity risks and how to navigate them. Access controls, authorisation and authentication, strong password protection policies, etc. need to be reviewed. An internal audit can reveal the risks and gaps in security which then you can plan to fix.

4. Does the cybersecurity program extend to hybrid and work-from-home models?

Many organisations have employees working remotely. Are there enough measures to protect information security in these situations? Your cybersecurity ecosystem must have the capabilities to handle different network servers, remote devices such as laptops and mobile devices used to access information, etc. 

5. Is the legal team involved in the cybersecurity program?

A data breach can have legal implications, too. And hence, it is not just a job for the IT department; the legal team has an important stake in the cybersecurity program, too.

There are regulations around data security and protection that need to be complied with in your cybersecurity program. The legal team can help you understand the level of data protection you need and identify if there are certain areas that need your specific attention. Thus, involving the legal team while taking cybersecurity decisions is important.

Final thoughts

Cybersecurity is important for any business and a culture that fosters security best practices needs to start with the company leadership. A CEO's active involvement in strategising and executing the cybersecurity program is important. Of course, this helps in building a robust cybersecurity program. But it also helps in achieving compliance to various security standards and regulations. It demonstrates the commitment of your business to information security and improves the credibility and brand image in the eyes of the clients and customers. 

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