ICS board insights
- For boards, it’s often the narrative — stories about potential impacts and successes — that brings cybersecurity data to life.
- For every investment recommendation, especially in cybersecurity, the board seeks a clear ROI.
- Tie cybersecurity initiatives directly to adherence to current regulations, and highlight potential new regulations on the horizon.
For many in the U.S., October ushers in cooler fall weather, pumpkin-flavored everything and heightened attention on cybersecurity. Once Cybersecurity Awareness Month has passed, however, that attention can disappear faster than leftover Halloween candy. So how can cybersecurity professionals emphasize the importance of cybersecurity to the board of directors and senior leadership throughout the rest of the year?
From data points to talking points
Discussing cybersecurity with business leaders can be a delicate dance between data and dialogue. A clear presentation of metrics provides an objective measure of our security posture. Yet, it’s often the narrative — stories about potential impacts and successes — that brings the data to life. For board members who may not live and breathe cybersecurity, both aspects are crucial.
Management guru Peter Drucker is often attributed with the phrase, “You can’t improve what you can’t measure.” It’s important to understand that bombarding the board with intricate metrics can lead to decision fatigue. It’s essential to distill them down to critical numbers and trends, presenting them in context. With a well-curated metrics dashboard, cybersecurity professionals can convey the most significant risks and the progress made in mitigating them.
But the story doesn’t stop at metrics.
Ever heard the phrase, “Facts tell, but stories sell”? It’s particularly true when communicating complex topics such as cybersecurity. While numbers can provide a snapshot of information, narratives offer context that numbers often can’t. They enable board members to connect with the information, emphasizing the real-world implications of the relevant metrics.
For instance, instead of just presenting vulnerability numbers, narrate a recent scenario where a particular vulnerability was mitigated. The balance of narrative and metrics ensures that the board not only understands the data but also feels the impact.
Making strategic investments transparent for ICS boards
For every investment recommendation, especially in cybersecurity, the board seeks a clear ROI. Instead of diving deep into the technical details, relate the potential outcomes of the investment. “By investing X in this system upgrade, we reduce our vulnerability exposure by Y%.” Keeping the board in the loop about why certain investments are crucial can foster trust and pave the way for securing the resources the cybersecurity team needs.
Future-proofing the infrastructure
For the board, the longevity and adaptability of company assets are paramount. Discussing how cybersecurity initiatives can ensure that the industrial control system (ICS) infrastructure is future-proofed against emerging threats can be persuasive. Instead of just focusing on immediate threats, explain how current strategies prepare the organization for the next 5, 10 or even 20 years. Illustrate how certain measures offer a long-term shield, ensuring that the infrastructure evolves in sync with the threat landscape, thus securing investments for the future.
Regulatory compliance and reputation management
Senior leadership is often keenly aware of the regulatory landscape and the implications of non-compliance. Tie cybersecurity initiatives directly to adherence to current regulations, and highlight potential new regulations on the horizon. Furthermore, emphasize the reputational risk of cybersecurity lapses, especially in the ICS sector where trust is paramount. By maintaining robust cybersecurity measures, not only does the organization avoid penalties and litigation, but it also strengthens its reputation in the marketplace.
Communicating cybersecurity concerns to the board is more than just a presentation — it’s a mission. It requires a delicate balance of metrics and meaningful narratives, with a keen understanding of the ICS industry’s nuances. As the cyber landscape evolves, so must our dialogue. By marrying metrics with meaning, we can ensure that our ICS boards are not only informed but also engaged and empowered to act.