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Posted 26 février 2019
The percentage of organizations attacked at least one time per year according to the 3rd edition of the annual CESIN survey (CESIN – Digital and Information Security Expert Club). In other words, virtually everyone. To make things worse, 50% of organizations have noticed an increase in the number of attacks this past year, with 25% reporting concrete impacts on their business (production downtimes, website shutdown, loss of income, etc.).
Digital security is a topic that reaches far beyond IT. The development of tools in the cloud, mobile applications, instant messaging and payment tools are as much business accelerators as they are potential attack vectors. To defend effectively against these attacks, training and awareness should be everyone’s concern. With the power to raise cybersecurity at a real strategic level to protect an organization’s assets, this is especially true for management.
Let’s forget about viruses, malware and scams for a moment. These threats are commonplace, and are generally well anticipated by most organizations. This does not mean attacks are no longer making any victims. But there is another concern that is increasingly affecting organizations: Threats that can lead to significant losses, not only financial and operational, but also damages to the brand.
In the face of all these dangers, should we become scaremongers? No, but we need to be careful.
The good news is that solutions exist and are available to organizations. However, without guidelines provided by the management team, these solutions may be more complicated to implement when the time comes. If the CIO is the linchpin of data and communications security efforts, management must drive them. To achieve this, it is necessary to be clear and concise, and resist using technicalities to convince decision-makers with relevance and effectiveness:
Without being cybersecurity experts, management can have a vague idea, or worse, feel strongly about the subject. These are limiting beliefs that generally prevent any argumentation. Unless you are well prepared. Examples.
Cybersecurity is not a relevant topic for our organization
This is a classic argument, especially for SMBs. For organizations that still perform a significant portion of their work offline, it is hard to understand why cybersecurity is so important. However, a simple email or a connected smartphone is enough to infect an entire information system. Not to mention that the new European GDPR regulation forces organizations processing personal data to do everything possible to protect them. In addition to potential loss of reputation, the organization could also face a heavy financial penalty for negligence.
We do not have the means
Your board or management considers direct and indirect security costs as a liability, not an investment. Yet, it can afford insurance covering the buildings or assets of the organization. The same applies here. The slightest security breach can generate operating losses one hundred or one thousand times greater than the cost of protection.
We are not worried about anything
This is the time to pull out the list of all cyberthreats you have countered so far: spam, phishing, viruses, malware, various hacks, social engineering … Be exhaustive! The goal is not to scare, but to show the reality of the threat landscape as it is today.
We will see the day problems come up
It is probably the most frustrating and the least consistent argument, but you have to accept it. For this, you need to present clear and elaborate scenarios. Step 1, emails stop working. Step 2, local files and databases are encrypted. Step 3, confidential information is leaked.
An attack can lead to a total loss of productivity. And waiting for an incident to happen before reacting could very well mean there is no longer a need to react due to the organization being completely paralyzed. Bankruptcies caused by cybercrime are not a legend.
In terms of cybersecurity, it is essential to work with management. Management plays a strategic role and must include cybersecurity in all considerations. Understanding that security is everyone’s concern is a transversal effort that must rely on the CIO, HR and Communication for a holistic vision of the challenges encountered.
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