Forty three percent (43%) of organizational executives believe it is likely that a cyberattack would materially harm their own firm in the next two years, according to the 2023 Global Cybersecurity Outlook study. However, many company executives are still seen as disregarding the significance of cybersecurity despite the presence of cyber threats. This begs the question: Do Business Leaders truly have no concern for Cybersecurity? This blog post will examine the role of business leaders in managing cybersecurity risks, the state of cybersecurity in businesses, the impact of cybersecurity breaches on businesses, the mindset of business leaders towards cybersecurity, and how to effectively communicate with business leaders.
The Role of Business Leaders
Although a business leader's role is multifaceted, one of their main duties is to make sure the company is profitable. Business executives must make strategic choices that prioritize maximizing income and reducing expenditures in order to accomplish this aim. This may entail carrying out market research to locate new prospects or target markets, creating successful sales and marketing plans, managing cash flow and budgeting, putting in place effective operating procedures, and making investments in infrastructure and technology that may support expansion.
Business executives also have a duty to make sure that their companies are secure from online dangers. They need to be aware of the repercussions of inadequately addressing cybersecurity risks. For instance, if a company doesn't safeguard its data or intellectual property against theft or loss as a consequence of a cyberattack, shareholders and other stakeholders may suffer major financial losses, and if senior management is shown to have been negligent, there may even be legal action taken against them.
Overall, a business leader's responsibility includes keeping the company successful, which calls for a mix of strategic planning, wise decision-making, and a readiness to change with the times. In order to be competitive and continue to be profitable over the long run, company executives must also be able to swiftly adapt to shifting market conditions and be ready to take calculated risks.
The State of Cybersecurity in Businesses
Cybersecurity in businesses is complex and challenging. According to the 2022 Cost of a Data Breach Report, "83% of organizations have had more than one breach". Additionally, ASEAN nations currently have an average total cost of a data breach at USD 2.87 million, a 5.90% increase of USD 0.16 million, up from USD 2.71 million in 2021. And with a per record cost of a data breach reaching a seven-year high, this indicates that organizations are more vulnerable to a data breach than before.
In APAC alone, there has been a high number of Social Engineering and Hacking related attacks where businesses suffered from monetary loss, business disruption and reputational damage.
The Impact of Cybersecurity on Businesses
Businesses are gravely concerned about how cybersecurity may affect them. Despite the fact that there are many distinct kinds of breaches, each one can have detrimental effects on a company's finances, reputation, and legal standing.
Financial impacts include:
- Loss of revenue as a result of downtime or slowdowns in operations (such as system shutdowns), among other financial effects
- Regulatory fines and legal fees. Businesses are legally obligated to notify authorities of data breaches and may incur regulatory fines and legal costs for carelessness or non-compliance. These expenses may mount up rapidly and be substantial.
- Reputational Damage. Deterioration of consumer loyalty and brand reputation
- Costs associated with restoring systems and data. Increased expenses for recovering data, repairing systems, and other forms of business disruptions
Small and medium-sized businesses are more susceptible to the consequences of a cyberattack because they usually lack the tools and expertise needed to adequately protect themselves.
The mindset of business leaders towards Cybersecurity
Business executives' abilities to manage and mitigate cybersecurity risks may be hampered by a variety of attitudes or misunderstandings about cybersecurity. Here are some typical viewpoints or misunderstandings that business executives may hold:
- Low perceived risk. Business executives may put other business goals ahead of cybersecurity because they think there is little chance of a breach or that it can be handled with few resources.
- "Cybersecurity is a technical issue": Business executives may think that risk management and decision-making procedures are not necessary since cybersecurity is only a technical issue.
- Competing priorities. Business executives frequently have to balance several conflicting demands on their time, such as regulatory compliance, customer happiness, and financial success. As a result, they might not devote enough time and money to cybersecurity, which would indicate a lack of concern for the dangers posed by cyberthreats.
Risks associated with cybersecurity are sometimes abstract and complicated, making them challenging for non-technical individuals to comprehend. People might not completely understand the possible repercussions of a data breach or hack, which might further contribute to the view that cybersecurity risks are minimal.
How Cybersecurity professionals should communicate with Business Leaders
As a consultant, I always hear the pain of our clients who are not getting the proper support from their leadership team. Following are some pointers for cybersecurity experts to use when speaking with business executives who may have a low perception of cybersecurity risk, believe that cybersecurity is a technical issue, or have competing priorities:
- Use specific and relevant examples. Giving specific instances of how cyberthreats might affect a company's operations is a good method to make the necessity of cybersecurity clear to business executives. Examples of cybersecurity breaches in companies or sectors comparable to their own may be provided, as well as information on the possible financial effects of such a breach on the company.
- Speak in business terms. When speaking with business leaders, cybersecurity experts should refrain from using technical jargon. Instead, they should speak in plain language that is pertinent to their industry, such as talking about how cybersecurity threats may affect sales, consumer trust, and brand reputation. Use plain language and frame cybersecurity in terms of business objectives.
- Highlight risk management and compliance requirements. When company executives have conflicting objectives, cybersecurity experts should stress the value of risk management to them. They should explain how good cybersecurity risk management can guard against expensive hacks, preserve the company's standing, and maintain its financial stability. Cybersecurity experts may take advantage of legal requirements by stressing the need of adhering to pertinent laws and regulations and outlining how cybersecurity risk management can help to assure compliance.
- Establish structured interactions between Business and Cybersecurity Leaders. It is a good sign that the frequency of structured interactions between cyber and business executives is increasing; 56% of security leaders now have monthly or more regular board meetings. But more must be done to foster understanding between the business and security teams to close the perceived gap in cybersecurity.
- Cybersecurity as a business enabler. We have heard this a lot already. Since we already know that a business leader's main duty for the company is to make it profitable, Cybersecurity leaders should think of ways to ensure that cybersecurity is seen as an enabler for the business rather than a hindrance. This is done by integrating cybersecurity into the business strategy and demonstrating the value of cybersecurity, to every department in the organization.
Bridging the gap
Business executives must give cybersecurity top priority now more than ever. While a business leader's primary responsibility is to increase the company's profitability, they also have a responsibility to educate themselves about the risks and hazards present in the contemporary digital world and how to mitigate them. Executives in business have a responsibility to concentrate and improve cybersecurity efforts, which includes being aware of the risks and hazards present in the modern digital world.
On the other hand, in order for Cybersecurity professionals to effectively convey the significance of cybersecurity to business leaders and increase their understanding of cybersecurity risks, cybersecurity professionals must have excellent communication skills. This is because company executives who may have low perceived risk, view cybersecurity as a technical issue, or have conflicting priorities must be made aware of the importance of cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity experts and business executives should effectively communicate in order to aid business leaders in understanding and managing cybersecurity threats.
 Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023 https://www.weforum.org/reports/global-cybersecurity-outlook-2023/
 Cost of a data breach 2022 A million-dollar race to detect and respond. https://www.ibm.com/reports/data-breach
 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report https://www.verizon.com/business/resources/reports/dbir/