Cybersecurity risks are significant business risks that must be managed. This can be challenging, because even organizations with mature practices are susceptible to cybersecurity failures that may not be detected in a timely manner. A cybersecurity risk management program can help address those challenges. But establishing and maintaining such a broad program is not easy.
An effective cybersecurity risk management program requires leadership and commitment from top executives. Simply being “interested” is insufficient because key decisions regarding the program will affect achievement of the organization’s overall business objectives.
CFOs, alongside other C-suite executives, can provide leadership and demonstrate commitment to their cybersecurity risk management programs in the following ways:
1. Establish a cybersecurity policy with objectives that align with your organization’s strategic business objectives.
The cybersecurity policy is a concise and high-level commitment by senior leadership to the strategic importance of cybersecurity. It describes the intent and direction of the cybersecurity risk management program and includes your organization’s cybersecurity objectives for protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of its information assets and systems.
2. Assign and communicate the authorities and responsibilities for cybersecurity.
To ensure achievement of your organization’s cybersecurity objectives, key roles, responsibilities, and authorities should be assigned, communicated, and regularly reviewed by executive leadership. These key responsibilities and authorities include establishment and continual improvement of the cybersecurity risk management program; risk assessment and treatment; process and system design; performance evaluation; and management review.
3. Identify and provide the resources necessary to establish and operate the cybersecurity risk management program.
The establishment and operation of an effective cybersecurity risk management program requires an ongoing commitment of resources. Factors that influence that commitment include the size and complexity of your organization, the industries in which your organization operates, and the needs and expectations of interested parties. Investments in people, process, and technology should be monitored and adapted as your organization’s cybersecurity objectives change.
4. Regularly review and improve the effectiveness of the cybersecurity risk management program.
Changes that impact your organization’s cybersecurity risks are inevitable, and they necessitate regular and periodic review of your cybersecurity risk management program. Internal updates to strategy and business objectives, and external shifts in the needs and expectations of interested third parties are examples of such changes. Leadership participation in the regular program reviews can help ensure that your organization continues to adequately address the risks that threaten your cybersecurity objectives. And when necessary, leadership can help ensure that program improvements are properly resourced and established.