Overcoming the Tower of Babel in Your Cybersecurity Program

Best practices for communicating cybersecurity risks and efficiency

One of the most difficult challenges encountered within risk management in today’s ever-changing cybersecurity environment is the ability to communicate the risks posed to an organization effectively. Security executives expect communication to be in their own language, focusing on the financial implications regarding gain, loss, and risk, and the difficulty of translating traditional security terms and nomenclature into risk statements expected by business executives poses a serious challenge. Therefore, it is the responsibility of a cybersecurity professional to ensure that security risks are communicated to all levels of the organization using language that can be easily understood.

The communication of security metrics plays a crucial role in ensuring the effectiveness of a cybersecurity program. When disseminating information on cyber risks, several aspects of communication should be considered. For example, a security professional should be cognizant of the credibility of the information’s source, the targeted audience and how to place the risk into perspective. We firmly believe that the success of a business today is directly related to the success of its cybersecurity program. This is largely due to the fact that all organizations depend on technology. Specifically, the interconnectedness of digital technologies translates to a significant potential for damage to an organization’s operational integrity and brand credibility, if its digital assets are not meticulously safeguarded. We only need to look at the recent Equifax breach for an illustrative example of this. Considering the potential impact of cyber attacks and data breaches, organizations must improve how they communicate cybersecurity risk.

The first step to ensuring effective communication of cyber risks involves a comprehensive business impact assessment. This must consider the organization’s business goals and objectives. Business impact assessments focus on how the loss of critical data and operational integrity of core services and infrastructure will impact a business. Furthermore, it acts as a basis for evaluating business continuity and disaster recovery strategies.

The second step is the identification of key stakeholders and their responsibilities. According to experts, this step plays a significant role in being prepared to mitigate the impact of cyber risks. Stakeholders are directly affected by a breach and have the most skin in the game. Identifying stakeholders should not be a one-off exercise but must be conducted regularly. An important consideration is that the more stakeholders there are, the greater the scope for miscommunication. Failure to identify the responsible stakeholders will increase the probability that risk is miscommunicated. In the case of a breach, it means that the response will be ineffective.

The third and most critical step is the identification of Key Risk Indicators (KRIs) tied to your program’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Doing this correctly will mean communicating cyber risks to executives in a way that allows them to make informed decisions. As an example, the amount or the severity of vulnerabilities on a critical system is meaningless to non-technical executives. Stating that a critical system that processes credit card data is vulnerable to data loss is more meaningful. Once business impacts have been assessed, stakeholders have been identified, and meaningful security metrics have been determined, regular communication to various stakeholders can take place.

Different stakeholders have unique needs. This must be considered when communicating KRIs and KPIs. When delivering information, we must accommodate both the stakeholders that prefer summaries and those that prefer reviewing data to make their conclusions. DFLabs’ IncMan generates customizable KPI and incident reports designed to cater to both audiences. Cybersecurity program metrics1 must also focus on costs in time and money to fulfill business needs. The ability to track these metrics is a key differentiator for DFLabs IncMan.

DFLabs’ IncMan is designed to not only provide the best in class incident orchestration and response capabilities but also provides the ability to generate customizable KPI reports that accurately reflect up-to-the-minute metrics on the health of your cybersecurity infrastructure. If your organization needs to get a true, customizable view that incorporates all stakeholders please contact us at [email protected] for a free, no-obligation demonstration of how we can truly keep your cyber incidents under control.