When we talk cybersecurity awareness, the focus is almost always on employees and their operations. While a security-minded staff is indispensable and always the first line of a company’s cybersecurity defense, an uninformed C-suite can lead to disastrous consequences.
Still, common misconceptions about cybersecurity persist, and it’s critical to address why these opinions may be misguided. Although there are exceptions to some of these rules, it’s important to develop a strong foundation of security realities to keep the whole organization on the same page with all operations and applications.
6 Common C-Suite Misconceptions About Security
While speaking with many CEOs and IT decision-makers, I’ve found that the more invested executives are in security, the stronger the enterprise’s posture and the less friction up and down the food chain. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at six prevalent myths that may be holding business leaders back.
1. Security Is Too Expensive to Outsource
With cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) options increasing in scope and decreasing in cost, shifting some of your IT resources off-site can be incredibly cost-effective and increase the efficiency of operations. The security-as-a-service (SECaaS) market, for instance, is growing significantly.
Cloud adoption still comes with its own set of difficulties. According to Softchoice, 96 percent of IT leaders reported that their teams lack the expertise required to handle security challenges in the cloud. Outsourcing this kind of application management can ultimately save companies a lot of work hours in implementation and problem solving.
2. Patches and Updates Are All Under Control
Is your CEO, chief information security officer (CISO) or other executive really confident that all of your company’s apps, workstations and devices are up to date? Don’t forget about all those firewalls, appliances, routers, servers and, of course, Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
Today’s network has an abundance of connected resources, and keeping them all patched and up to date is a massive undertaking, especially when you factor in all the individual endpoint users responsible for updating their own devices. Complacency has no place here, so building regular software patching and auditing into your routine security operations is crucial to a proactive defense strategy.
3. Traditional Cybersecurity Awareness Programs Are Good Enough
Is cybersecurity awareness training ever done? Threats and defenses change all the time. Training your employees once per year (or even less) doesn’t cut it in this ever-evolving technology landscape. It’s no coincidence that companies with security-aware employees tend to have the best defenses.
Does your company train users on how to address social engineering attacks? Are your employees totally invested in protecting your network? Consider strategies such as penetration testing and gamification to make your security training more engaging.
4. Threat Actors Are Unbeatable
In some cases, this can be true; but more often than not, attacks aren’t backed by formidable skill. Hollywood may portray threat actors as conniving geniuses, but anyone with internet access can download a premade infiltrating tool that can do severe damage against organizations that fail to take basic security precautions.
Threat actors are incredibly opportunistic and almost always attack vulnerable targets. If your company focuses on proactive risk reduction, there’s a good chance a would-be attacker would decide it’s not worth the effort or risk to target your networks. Think of it like this: If your house the only one in the neighborhood with the lights on, burglars will probably move on to an unguarded home.
5. Compliance Equals Security
Being compliant with government and industry regulations is critical to doing business and establishing trust, but regulations only define the bare minimum. Just because you’re compliant doesn’t mean you’re secure.
If you are attacked, your compliance will go a long way toward reducing the damage in the public eye or in court, as well as the risk taken by your stakeholders, vendors and consumers. But the point of effective security is not only to protect yourself legally. A strong, well-rehearsed incident response plan is irreplaceable when it comes to fully protecting your enterprise.
6. We’ve Spent Enough on Security
The C-suite must change its perception that security merely represents an expense on a balance sheet. Executives must be aware of the financial consequences of not securing their infrastructure.
I understand the reluctance to spend more on security. I’ve been there: When you’re in charge of the security budget, you’re always wondering if you’re spending too much, especially considering how many people are skeptical of the efficacy of those expenses.
The argument to be made here isn’t whether you’re spending too much or too little on security — it’s all about how you’re spending that money. With so many compatible security options out there, spending wisely on your security budget is easier than ever. That said, it’s always tricky to pull the weeds and identify the most crucial products and services. Be sure to weigh your options against your business’s needs and goals, and seek out integration compatibility across multiple solutions wherever possible.
Cybersecurity Awareness Starts at the Top
As a former security analyst for both private and public sectors, I’ve often been called upon to act as a buffer between the C-suite and IT department in security-related decisions. In this role, I found that far too frequently, there was a disconnect in the corporate hierarchy. Clearing up some of these misconceptions from the top down can go a long way toward helping security leaders develop a more complete security culture and a stronger, more resilient enterprise overall.