Greater cybercriminal sophistication, regulations and customer privacy expectations are ushering in a new era of data security accountability. Critical data and information — including customer information, intellectual property and strategic plans — are key to organizations’ competitiveness, but a breach of this data can have disastrous consequences.

Business leaders must play an active role in protecting against the risks associated with breaches of critical business data and intellectual property. But IT, security and risk teams speak a different language from business leaders and often struggle to equip them with the information they need to make effective decisions. Tools that give executives business-relevant data security visibility can help bridge the divide.

Who Is Accountable for Data Security?

Though data security has long been the purview of IT and security teams, the market is shifting, and business executives must take notice. IBM commissioned Forrester Consulting to survey 150 IT, security and risk decision-makers to examine their approach to protecting their company’s critical information and communicating data risk to senior business executives.

The Forrester report, “Is Your Company in Peril If Critical Data Is Breached?,” found that CEOs and boards of directors are most accountable to external stakeholders when data is compromised. It’s no longer optional: Business leaders must play an active role in protecting their company’s critical data assets. As recent, highly publicized breaches have demonstrated, their firm’s reputation and stock price, as well as their jobs, are at stake.

Source: Forrester Research

Opportunities and Threats Are Intertwined

With the opportunity to use data to improve business operations and customer experiences comes the threat of data compromise and loss. But before IT and business executives can take on their data security responsibilities, they must first identify their company’s critical assets — the ones that are key to the organization’s success and would pose considerable risk if compromised.

Over 70 percent of IT and security professionals believe it’s important for business executives to have visibility into a long list of data security metrics. IT and security professionals struggle to distinguish between tactical, operational and strategic security priorities.

However, it is imperative that they are able to communicate these very priorities to business leaders, who often lack security expertise, in a language they understand. While it may be tempting to develop a long list of metrics for everyone, security information needs to be explained in a context that the intended audience can relate to and comprehend.

Investing in Security Controls to Protect Critical Data

Seventy-nine percent of respondents to the Forrester study said they feel they can justify the business case for a centralized, business-friendly command center with these capabilities. To help avoid disastrous consequences, including incident response costs, regulatory fines, plummeting stock prices and shattered reputations, a data risk management program is critical.

Investing now in data security controls that align IT, security and the business can help prevent costly breaches down the road and ensure that key stakeholders come together to help execute the company’s security strategy.

To learn more, watch our on-demand webinar, “Bridging the Data Risk Divide,” featuring guest speakers Heidi Shey, senior analyst serving security and risk for Forrester, and Daniel Goodes, worldwide data security technical leader IBM. They will discuss recent Forrester research surrounding data risk management.

Watch the on-demand webinar: Bridging the Data Risk Divide

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