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It’s time the CISO has a voice in the boardroom

Geert van der Linden
July 6, 2020

Many organizations have made the mistake of thinking of cybersecurity as a secondary initiative – something to bolt on to products and systems as a necessary afterthought, rather than embedding the function into core decision-making processes.

If recent events have shown us anything, it is the power of cybersecurity to enable business continuity and connection. When the world suddenly became a displaced, digital hub as a result of the pandemic, security soared up the enterprise priority list. Rather than being viewed as the department of ‘no’, business leaders saw the security team as an enabler – the architects behind safe and innovative online services.

Using Cybersecurity as a Differentiator in Your Business

As we look to the new normal and beyond, it is essential that businesses learn and grow from the last few months. When it comes to cybersecurity, this means making a proactive effort to embed the function into decision making and realize its potential as a business differentiator.

To enable this change, the entire C-suite must play their role. More importantly, they must truly understand and believe in the importance of a cybersecurity-by-design. From CEOs to digital transformation leaders to CISOs themselves, each has a fundamental role to play in changing the perception of cybersecurity.

As organizations look to innovate, they may not think to engage the CISO in initial conversations with their digital transformation team. This needs to change. If security is not built into the foundations of digital transformation, businesses open themselves up to substantial financial and reputational risks. Attempting to bolt-on cybersecurity to initiatives reduces flexibility, undermines agility and impacts the speed to market.

CEOs must endorse, support and empower the CISO

To prevent this from happening, business leaders have a responsibility to change their company’s mindset towards the security function. They must actively endorse, support and empower the CISO and their department. This means facilitating conversations between the CISO and digital transformation leaders to ensure that they are aligned on business objectives, as well as strengthening the role of security within the governance structure.

Digital transformation leaders must embrace security-by-design

Digital transformation leaders must recognize that cybersecurity does not delay positive change. In fact, the function allows for quite the opposite. Security-by-design supports the rollout of new initiatives and provides much needed guidance and guardrails for innovation. In fact, Capgemini research shows that customers value cybersecurity-by-design as the most important reason to select a vendor, eclipsed only by the availability of a product or service. On the other hand, when cybersecurity is an afterthought, digital transformation initiatives are inevitably held up and frustration created, as cybersecurity teams reactively attempt to weave security into a program.

Digital transformation leaders must look to formalize the role security plays in digitalization, embedding the function into initial conversations so that cybersecurity can be part of the transformation blueprint. Alongside this, they must reinforce the importance of cybersecurity in their conversations with the C-level, highlighting that security and the business are aligned and working towards a common business aim.

CISOs must demonstrate that security is a pre-requisite to success

Currently, many cybersecurity departments are drawn into projects at too late a stage, meaning that they become a barrier to change and transformation. This has a knock-on effect on an enterprise’s competitive advantage, restricts agility and, internally, impacts the image of the cybersecurity function. Security-by-design, on the other hand, is a business differentiator and enabler of innovation.

It is up to the CISO to demonstrate this to the wider organization and their peers. CISOs must become leaders, moving away from technical language to communicating cybersecurity in terms of its bigger picture business benefits. The more that the CISO can highlight the value of cybersecurity as a business function, the more likely they are to be brought into broader business conversations, where they can make a positive impact early on.

To know more about the role that each of these leaders has in enabling better cybersecurity, and to find out more about the roadmap to change, read our latest thought leadership, made in conjunction with IDC.

To find out more about how we can help you visit our Cybersecurity services page.

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