In this digital age, cybersecurity is of ever growing importance to organisations. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many organisations have had to enter a period of rapid digitalisation in order to stay afloat. This has led organisations to have not considered the cybersecurity implications of their digital transformation.
It is important for Boards of directors to not just understand how a cyberattack could affect an organisation, but also to have a greater responsibility for it, and take an active part in ensuring cybersecurity.
While you cannot completely prevent a cyberattack, you can be completely prepared to deal with one, and it's important that every level of the organisation understands their role in this.
Why It Is Important For Boards To Understand Cybersecurity
Having a Board that understands cybersecurity, puts in place a risk management framework that includes cyber risk and promotes cyber awareness is vital in ensuring your organisation’s cyber resilience.
The Board has a responsibility to make sure that its executive team has a plan, and that the whole organisation is prepared for the eventuality of an attack.
Boards of directors need to be cyber literate, which doesn’t mean your Board needs to become IT experts but it does mean they need to have an understanding of how to be cyber secure.
The Board should understand:
- The types of cyberattacks that can occur for an organisation
- The digital assets (i.e., systems and information) that are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks within the organisation
- The possible outcomes of cyberattacks and data breaches
- What can be done to combat these potential threats
The Role of the Board in Cybersecurity
The Board has a responsibility to oversee the company's overall cybersecurity management and ensure appropriate risk mitigation strategies, systems, processes, and controls are in place.
The following are just a few ways to ensure your Board can manage your organisation’s cybersecurity concerns.
1. Develop Accessible Conversations
Boards should help to simplify technical discussions so that all Board Members and employees alike can contribute to the conversation. Technical language and analysis is important, but it is not effective in helping the Board understand how cyberattacks can affect the organisation from an economic standpoint in both the short and long term.
By creating an environment where complex technical discussions are not the focus, the Board can get to the heart of cybersecurity concerns without being IT experts.
This way the Board can turn their focus to making strategic changes and assisting in making the organisation cyber secure, without wasting too much time on trying to comprehend the complicated details of the cybersecurity landscape.
2. Keep Cybersecurity On The Agenda
Cybersecurity is not a 'one and done' type of decision; it’s a continuously changing and moving target. The more often the Board is made aware of the cyber-situation of the organisation, the more comfortable and more expert they become.
It should be on the Board’s meeting agenda at regular intervals, so that your Board can discuss ongoing cybersecurity issues and report on the effectiveness of the cybersecurity measures already in place.
This helps to promote a culture of cyber-awareness throughout all levels of the organisation, as well as keep the Board up to date and on top of cybersecurity.
3. Maintain Communication
In order for the Board to ensure cybersecurity throughout the organisation, it is important that your Board has a good communication line to the audit committee, risk management and IT, so that any issues can be discussed efficiently.
Boards should work on building and facilitating relationships between cybersecurity executives and experts within the organisation and Board Members.
An effective way to engage the Board on assessing the organisation’s cyber risks is to have an IT senior manager present in Board meetings who can provide information to the Board, which would help establish communication as well as assist the Board in fully understanding the risks.
The Board should also be up to date on changing cybersecurity models and strategies, so that they can make more informed decisions when a cyberattack takes place.
By making cybersecurity a joint capability, the whole organisation can become even more cyber resilient.
4. Plan For Recovery As Well As Prevention
As important as it is to try and prevent cyberattacks, it is equally important to have strategies, systems and processes in place for when a cyberattack happens.
The Board should be instrumental in ensuring the organisation’s cybersecurity incident response planning is effective, and that the organisation has measures in place so that they can recover from a potential attack and data breach.
There should always be a remediation plan and both a short-term and long-term plan for recovery after a breach. The Board needs to focus on risk management as well as risk assessment, and ensure that there is a comprehensive data protection policy and that the incident response plans are well tested.
5. Be Aware Of The Human Element
It is crucial that an organisation is on top of checking that their employees are cyber-aware, and the Board has a major responsibility in making sure cyber literacy is present throughout the entire organisation.
Phishing is one of the most common causes for cyber attacks, so employees need to be aware of what phishing scams can look like and the steps to avoid them, as well as what to do if this kind of cyber attack is successful.
This is why Human Layer Security (HLS) is so important, as it assists in the education of all employees and other stakeholders on security measures, cyber attacks and how to resolve them.
6. Ensure Experts Are Present
Boards should understand the importance of having experts throughout the entire process, from establishing both prevention and response plans, to the maintenance of said measures.
Cybersecurity is an ongoing problem that needs to continuously be inspected and addressed, and it is important to have experts on hand to do this.
External consultants are one way to do this, as by bringing experts in from outside your organisation you are ensuring a new and impersonal perspective to assess your cybersecurity.
Another way to ensure you have expertise within your organisation is to devote a committee to cybersecurity itself, separate from an IT team. This way cybersecurity can be constantly monitored and controlled, and risks can be assessed and dealt with easily and efficiently.
Boards could also decide to have a Board Member amongst them with a cybersecurity background, to certify their responsibility and commitment to cybersecurity.
This could help the Board understand the overall cyber landscape at a deeper level so they can offer even more assistance, and would also set the right ‘tone at the top’; that your organisation cares about establishing the critical infrastructure to protect information and network security.
Cybersecurity should not be left to one person, so communication and extensive knowledge throughout the organisation is key.
Board Members are becoming increasingly more involved in the state of cybersecurity in their organisations. Boards of directors need to be aware of security risks, as cyberattack incidents are occuring with increasing frequency and can be devastating for any organisation.
The Board has an important responsibility in ensuring cybersecurity, and it is crucial that your Board can understand how to both prevent and respond to cyber threats.
Secure software is at the heart of maintaining cybersecurity for your Board.
How Convene Can Help
Convene’s Award Winning Board Portal was designed and developed to enable your organisation to respond to today’s pressing security challenges.
Equipped with advanced security features and end-to-end encryption, Convene’s multi-layered approach offers users high levels of data protection, access control, availability, and application security.
Convene was created to streamline your Board meeting process, so that you can focus on the more important aspects of governance, like ensuring cybersecurity.
Our Board portal also comes fully integrated with Microsoft Teams, meaning your Board meetings can all occur seamlessly in one place.
To learn more about how Convene can help your Board, read our customer success stories here or book a demo today.