Should Your C-Suite Make Cybersecurity a Bigger Priority?

When it comes to the very pressing threat of cybersecurity attacks — everything from attacks on the electrical grid to hospital systems — building a strong defense against hackers is a major priority for any company or government entity.

Using just one example, a recent study from IBM reveals the cost of major data breach scales over $7 billion in the healthcare industry alone.

There is some concern though that cybersecurity vigilance doesn’t always climb to the top of a company or firm’s leadership team. Is the average C-Suite placing hacker defense front and center enough?

A report from The San Diego Union-Tribune zeroes in on the pressures company executives face in adapting to and tackling the ever-evolving reality that cyberattacks are a common facet of our daily lives.

Ransomware is everywhere, hitting food suppliers, education — regional school districts and majority universities alike — and local hospital systems. It also possesses a hefty price tag. NBC News reports ransomware cost victims of hacks an estimated $1.4 billion in the past year alone.

It’s proliferated so far that it dictates American foreign policy. Following the mass SolarWinds attack last year, the U.S. government pivoted its approach, with the current Biden Administration imposing sanctions on Russia and setting new standards for cybersecurity protocols for federal contracts with software companies, according to 60 Minutes.

Cybersecurity’s effect on policy and day-to-day fears over the safety of our personal data means we are in an era where C-Suite executives can’t delegate or place these concerns to the IT team alone. Defense against hackers has to be embedded at all levels of a firm’s hierarchy.

Lisa Easterly, chief executive of the San Diego Cyber Center of Excellence, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that we are in an era where executives across all industries have placed a significant premium on information security.

“Every CEO, at this point, is now in the business of cyber security,” Easterly explained. “They need to be engaged and understand what the risk is on a real-time basis — the threat landscape is ever evolving and becoming more sophisticated.”

As a result, the San Diego paper writes that competition between information technology teams and C-Suites are emerging — the more those at the top become directly involved with cybersecurity strategy, the more a tension can develop between these two factions within a company.

The best approach would be to get everyone on the same page and develop a cohesive, firm-wide policy. If your firm wants to win the pressing battle against hackers, it is time that open dialogue filters between all company departments. Your data, financial bottom line, and staff safety depend on it.

Published by Peter Cavicchia

Peter Cavicchia is a retired U.S. Secret Service Senior Executive, now Chairman of the security consulting firm Strategic Services International LLC.

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