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Managing Cyber Security Programs - How to Effectively Communicate Success

When it comes down to it, it’s up to your business or organization’s leadership and directors to take responsibility for the business’s assets. The board pretty much controls everything, from the company’s future to its valuable assets. These assets also include the sensitive information of the business’s clientele and workforce. Executives throughout the company are responsible for being advocates for cybersecurity risk management.


For those who work directly with IT departments and risk management teams, it’s very important to offer your valuable insight and knowledge into cybersecurity. You’re an expert in this field for a reason, and you realistically know much more about your organization’s cybersecurity and risks than the CEO or even key IT leaders. However, there can be some difficulty when it comes to getting people who are not cybersecurity experts to understand the successes and risks involved. Spreading awareness isn’t very easy if you’re working with complex technology that the average person wouldn’t understand easily.


In this quick guide, we’ll break down a few different approaches you can take to help leaders, stakeholders, and the whole of your organization’s workforce understand success and risks when managing cyber security programs.


How to Communicate Success When Managing Cyber Security Programs

Prepare Media for Your Meetings


Take the time to prepare simple, non-technical illustrations and graphs. The key to presenting information about cybersecurity success or risk to leadership and the general workforce is to visualize the data you want to share. By adding a visual element to what you’re explaining, you’re doing more than just dumping a bunch of words and terms onto an audience that cannot fully grasp the concept of cybersecurity programs.


Don’t Sell Fear


If there are substantial risks in your current strategy, it can be hard not to try and put the fear of cybersecurity into your key leaders and workforce. This is especially so if your key leaders are making ignorant risky decisions that aren’t entirely based on what the IT department has communicated. Just as well, it can be frustrating to see the whole of your organization’s workforce make poor personal decisions when it comes to protecting their accounts. Who wouldn’t want to yell “identity theft!” and “corporate-wide breach!” from the mountaintops?


However, this isn’t always the best approach. Your goal should not be to sell fear, but to communicate positivity and growth. If you’re pitching a new potential strategy or program, your audience is going to close themselves off if you’re a fearmonger. Rather, focus on all the improvements, benefits, positives, and opportunities for growth that your new strategy might have.


If you’re dealing with a general meeting, it’s always necessary to bring up the pain points, but these should be list coldly, as Issues that need attention and to be resolved in a timely manner. Put the emphasis on the positive points.


Focus on One Point Each Meeting


It can be quite easy to overwhelm your audience when it’s time to dive into your report. This is especially the case if there are many new developments to discuss, both negative and positive. This is not the best idea when communicating success and risk with your audience in terms of cybersecurity. Your audience will likely be overwhelmed with jargon and will check out mentally.


Instead, try to stress only one point at each meeting. Make a list of points you want to make and order them by importance, and start ticking away at them each meeting. Also, if you feel your audience is pulling to a specific point, don’t fight it, try to roll with it and re-align if possible.


Make Sure You Understand the Scope of the Company Assets to Be Protected


If you are a security or a risk manager, your role is very important in keeping your organization’s data safe. You’re already in the best position to understand the full scope of the risks and successes involved. However, do you really understand the scope of your company’s assets?


It’s easy to be left out of the game when you aren’t an inherent part of the core business such as delivery. Do your best at constantly being aware of what’s going on in the company. Read documentation, ticket reports, and anything else you can get your hands on. If you have a more well-rounded understanding of the assets that are to be protected, you can better understand what’s truly at risk. This can will be key to communicating cybersecurity risk around the things that matter most to your companies management.


Get Management Backing


There are so many different mistakes that could destroy a new risk management strategy. Risk management itself is also a process, rather than recurring and varying projects. Being able to successfully implement risk management strategies involves gaining the support of your management. This, of course, requires some skill when it comes to communicating risk to your management.


Knowing where to start when communicating success or risk can be difficult but getting the support of your CEO or CFO should be a top priority. Without this support from an executive level, the mid-range management will not be particularly interested in taking on more work to make the plan itself work.


Before you begin to consult on a new risk management plan, investigate executive sponsorship. This sponsorship should involve long-term commitment to offering resources. Work outside the meetings to create a lobby for your cause. This should result in creating a full room of supporters which will help you achieve your goals.


Use Examples from Real-Life


Using examples is a great way to demonstrate your cybersecurity program’s success and risks, as well as how well it performs. Examples and use cases are also a great way to help leaders and the general workforce understand all the potential liabilities that come with unsatisfactory cybersecurity practices.


There are certainly plenty of real-world examples out there of large enterprises failing to keep their cybersecurity in check. Look for examples with possible causes that mirror the current risks your company is facing, if they come from competitors or partners, the examples will be more likely to strike home.


Remember what we mentioned before… don’t fear monger! Rather, point out these examples and offer ample solutions and positive ideas that could remove the potential threats.


Make the Issues and Successes as Relatable as Possible


When the average person takes their laptop in for a repair, they don’t really want to hear about the technical details of what’s wrong. They want their technician to explain the problem as simply as possible, why the problem matters, the one best solution, and how much it will cost.


This is no different when it comes to communicating with board members as a risk manager. It’s your responsibility to effectively translate a very technical problem into something that is relevant to the actual decision makers. Remember: Identify the nature of the issue, the company impact, and the cost of mitigation. That’s the type of information the leaders and decision-makers are looking for.


Take an Approach to Cybersecurity from a Business Success Standpoint


When you’re explaining the value of your potential cybersecurity strategy or report, it would be wise to really emphasize how the strategy will impact the overall business. Your CFO may not be particularly interested about discovering data and other jargon, but they would be quite interested to hear exactly how your strategy (point A) will result in the company saving money (point B.) Make your meetings relevant to the needs of the business, rather than a sole cybersecurity standpoint.


Try to Take as Much Tech Jargon Out of the Picture as Possible


Avoid as many technical terms as you can, especially acronyms that your company leaders and board members will not understand. For some perspective: Assume that everyone you are speaking to has never received a degree in something like computer science. That assessment is likely true. Avoiding too much jargon will ensure that everyone can effectively understand your reasoning for cybersecurity strategies and trajectories, and they will be more likely to reference and then consider your unique opinion when it comes time to make important decisions involving risk.


Tackle Risk Management with the Best Cyber Risk Management Platform


Rescana offers attack surface and third-party risk management solutions that are based entirely around your organization’s unique policies. We understand that not all cyber risk management solutions are the right fit for any organization. That’s why Rescana was built with a bespoke approach to risk management.


We offer an AI-based discovery engine that relies on accuracy first and foremost. We used artificial intelligences to monitor and perform asset attribution to keep your system accurate. Our survey generation platform also makes it easier than ever to build, customize, and use built-in or pre-drafted risk surveys.


Through a combination of third-party risk management, open-source intelligence, and attack surface management, Rescana can make managing your cybersecurity efforts incredibly easy and intuitive. The easier your risk management software is, the easier it will be to gather the data you need to communicate success and risk to your key leaders and directors.


Schedule a demo with Rescana today to see for yourself how our platform could radically change the way your organization manages cyber risk!


How was our guide to communicating success when managing cyber security programs? We want to hear what you think and you'r tips for success in the comments below.


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