Cyber security questions for C-suite

A C-suite guide to cyber security strategy

22nd April 2024BlogAnjela Ubogu

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A C-suite guide to cyber security strategy

In today’s rapidly evolving cyber landscape, the inevitability of a data breach looms large as threats become more sophisticated and attack surfaces expand. Relying solely on defensive measures to fend off attacks and mitigate their impact is no longer sufficient. Every organisation’s leadership team, or C-suite, must prioritise proactive cyber security measures, including round-the-clock monitoring, detection, and response, to manage cyber risk effectively.

However, members of the C-suite often ascend to their roles based on expertise in their respective domains rather than in security and risk management. Consequently, they may need more insight to foster a security-centric culture or bolster organisational defences. Many may need help knowing where to begin. Here are some key cyber security questions for the C-suite to consider:

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Addressing cyber security threats: essential questions

Q: What are the most significant cyber security threats we currently face?

The most significant cyber security threats include Social Engineering, Third-Party Exposure, Configuration Mistakes, Poor Cyber Hygiene, Cloud Vulnerabilities, Mobile Device Vulnerabilities, Internet of Things, and Ransomware.

According to Arctic Wolf’s Trends Report, ransomware ranks as the top concern for 48% of organisations in 2023.
This malicious malware locks down systems or data to demand ransom payments. Since 2020, ransomware attacks have surged by 435%, as the World Economic Forum highlighted.
Ransomware operations exploit vulnerabilities or deceive users through social engineering tactics to spread. Once a system is compromised, attackers use malware to take control, often targeting backup systems to hinder recovery. This tactic leads victims or their insurance companies to pay ransoms in 74% of cases to regain access to their data.

Q: What are our compliance obligations for sensitive data?

Navigating compliance requirements can be complex, stemming from various aspects of an organisation’s operations. This often requires adhering to multiple sets of standards or security frameworks.

Research indicates that 67% of organisations adhere to one to three guidelines, while 6% are mandated to comply with six or more. As the number of compliance standards increases, so does the challenge of meeting their respective requirements. The varying rigour among competing standards adds to the complexity. In response, organisations are advised to prioritise adherence to the most stringent requirements from each standard to ensure comprehensive compliance.

Q: Do we have 24×7 security experts available?

For many organisations, the answer is likely “no.” The cost of maintaining an in-house security team is often prohibitive. Studies show that 56% of organisations believe they need to hire five or more full-time staff members for their security operations centre (SOC). In comparison, 48% require ten or more cybersecurity experts for round-the-clock monitoring, detection, and response.

Finding qualified experts is challenging even if organisations can afford an in-house SOC. Globally, 32% of organisations struggle to hire and retain staff, and 36% feel their current team needs more expertise.

Many organisations are turning to managed security operations solutions, such as managed detection and response (MDR), to address these challenges and gain the expertise needed for proactive protection.

Q: Does our C-suite need a CISO? 

Any organisation that uses generates, or stores data can benefit from giving security a seat at the C-suite table.

A CISO, or Chief Information Security Officer, oversees the entire organisation’s security. They establish company security policies, procedures, and standards, manage data protection, and ensure compliance. Additionally, they secure data, minimise threats, ensure compliance, and oversee staff training and education.

Given the escalating cyber threat landscape, having a CISO is crucial for any organisation handling data. They can influence key decisions at the C-suite level and ensure security receives appropriate attention.

Q: Are we using cyber security resources wisely?

Some organisations believe that acquiring more tools is the answer to cybersecurity challenges. On average, organisations use 45 different tools in their security setup, with 19 needed to respond to a single alert. However, if tools alone could solve the problem, they would have done so by now. These organisations overlook the importance of human expertise.

Effective cybersecurity requires skilled professionals. Without a well-trained IT team capable of optimising the tools in your tech stack, certain areas of your environment remain vulnerable. Ignoring parts of your environment only increases the risk of cyber attacks.

Rather than investing in many tools, proactive organisations strengthen their security by allocating resources to solutions that blend cutting-edge technology with access to round-the-clock security experts.

Q: Do we know where our data is located and how it is protected?

An information security program prioritises data confidentiality, integrity, availability, and related services. Understanding the nature of this data and its sensitivity concerning compliance obligations, storage locations, transmission paths, usage, authorised access, and retention period is essential.

For many organisations, this data forms the core of their business. Organisations must implement proper data lifecycle management to manage this data correctly, which involves tracking data locations, characteristics, and classification.      

Q: Are our employees being appropriately trained? 

Security awareness training aims to educate employees on secure practices, enabling them to effectively identify and respond to cyber threats. Effective programs are continuous, meeting industry standards while fostering lasting behavioural changes. Clear communication of training goals is crucial for success. Microlearning, delivering short, updated content, boosts engagement and retention, making training more effective.

Q: Do we have a response plan for cyber security emergencies?

In the event of cyber attacks escalating to significant incidents, organisations require a trusted partner to assist in eliminating the threat and restoring normal business operations. However, merely removing the threat is insufficient. Identifying the root cause, documenting the incident, and restoring operations to pre-incident status is essential in every response scenario to resume operations and prevent future incidents.

Q:  Is cyber security insurance necessary?

The cyber insurance industry is relatively new, with many policies being less than a year old. As cyber threats evolve, more organisations seek insurance, but policies are becoming harder to obtain due to increased risks. Insurance companies face significant losses from cyber attacks, leading to policy changes like reduced coverage and increased premiums. Despite these challenges, obtaining cyber insurance is crucial.

Cyber attacks can financially devastate small to mid-size businesses, with average ransoms reaching $450,000. Larger organisations face even greater risks. Additionally, new techniques like double extortion heighten the stakes.

Ransomware is just one threat; vulnerability exploits, social engineering scams, and compromised credentials pose risks. Cyber insurance complements a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, including proactive measures and incident response plans.

Northdoor provides a comprehensive set of services around information security and works with leading global technology vendors to deploy and manage cyber security solutions. Call Northdoor to learn how we are combating the growing threat to your data and your business:

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