As fast pace as the world is, cyber threats lurk at every corner. As business and technology leaders, we have a certain level of responsibility to safeguard our organization’s assets while simultaneously fostering a growth-oriented business environment; as we say, the safest system is not connected to the internet, but you cannot keep your doors open in that model. We often talk about the CIA triad (Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability) in Cybersecurity. Still, I don’t think we talk often enough about the triad that we as security leaders should discuss more, Security, Business, and Culture. I have seen that balancing these is the key to a cybersecurity professional’s success, the success of the organizations they serve, and the community.
Let’s start with security. We know that security must enable the business, not disable it. We cannot think of this responsibility as protecting IT assets and sensitive data anymore; it’s a strategic element that drives trust, credibility, and competitive advantage. However, the main challenge lies in aligning security with the strategic and operational needs of the business. So, you may ask, why should security align with business and not vice versa?
In a business environment, security ensures that the enterprise functions smoothly and continues to thrive. By saying that security must enable the business, we mean it shouldn’t impose cumbersome restrictions or procedures that disrupt business operations or slow innovation. Instead, adequate security measures should support and enhance the business’s objectives by providing a safe and secure environment to operate and grow.
Concerning business practices, organizations today are under immense pressure to deliver on business imperatives such as profitability, market share, and customer satisfaction, which security does not do alone. These are fundamental needs that keep a business afloat. As we have seen through recent events, a single security breach can undermine all these objectives.
For instance, per tech.co:
- June 1st MOVEit Hack, affecting Zellis, British Airways, BBC, and Others.
- May 23rd, Apri Healthcare data breach, 1.9 million customers impacted.
- May 19th, Suzuki data breach, significant production loss.
- May 16th, PharMerica data breach, 2,500 different facilities in the US, impacts 5.8 million individuals’ data.
These instances undoubtedly have imminent or future impacts on the underpinning business. Your ability to weave the elements of your security plan into the business needs means supporting the business imperatives previously mentioned; otherwise, you’re just overhead. By incorporating security measures into business operations, organizations can build a sustainable, resilient business model that can withstand cyber threats.
Now Business and Security make sense, but you may wonder about the third piece of this complex puzzle, Culture. People are the most significant assets of an organization, but given our nature to trust, we are typically the most vulnerable to cyberattacks. A study by CybSafe revealed that human error accounted for nearly 90% of data breaches. This means a less-than-stellar participation in the business/security/culture combo will deliver poor outcomes. So, we must start discussing how culture can balance business goals while positively impacting security – this means more than just “educating” employees about potential threats once a year. We must constantly remind them of safe practices and promote an atmosphere where security is everyone’s responsibility. It’s about creating a mindset that values security as an integral part of the business, not just an afterthought or a necessary evil. A cybersecurity culture offers numerous benefits: employees are more alert to potential threats, respond more effectively to incidents, and take ownership of their actions.
Creating this culture is not an overnight task; it’s an ongoing effort that requires strategic planning, continual reinforcement, and active participation from all levels of an organization. Business leaders must set the tone, demonstrating by their actions the importance of security. They must visibly engage in certain behaviors and champion the adoption of security policies. At the same time, employees must be empowered to speak up about potential threats and take proactive steps to ensure the security of their work.
The success of an organization in the digital era hinges on the delicate balance between security, business, and culture. Only by intertwining these aspects can we create resilient organizations capable of surviving and thriving amidst the growing cyber threats we face week after week.
What is the TLDR version of this:
Understanding and Alignment: Grasp the business’s core objectives and align the security strategies accordingly. Identify risks, tailor security measures for different sectors, and ensure security evolves with business innovation.
Security Culture: Foster a security-conscious culture among all employees through training and awareness programs. Reducing risks from human errors and insider threats is key, which can be achieved by integrating security into the organizational culture.
Communication: Bridge the gap between technical and non-technical departments, explaining complex security issues in a digestible manner. Regularly report the status and value of security measures, showing how they contribute to business goals to secure ongoing support.