Posted on May 4, 2021.

C-suites and board members are responsible for an enterprise’s overall decision-making. While cybersecurity and IT teams understand how crucial security is for both the current state of affairs and the future of the enterprise, the c-suite and board may not fully understand — and may deprioritize their security posture. The result? Higher levels of risk and more collateral damage in the event of a breach or attack.

The reality is that enterprises of all sizes are seeing an increase in cyberattacks, especially as a massive chunk of the US workforce is working from home. To ensure that the best decisions are being made at the highest levels of an organization, IT teams and stakeholders will need to present cyber security as a benefit to the organization… in a way that c-suites and board members can understand.

Why c-suites aren’t embracing cybersecurity

When it comes to cybersecurity, c-level executives and IT teams are not often on the same page. One recent report shows the most common reasons why this happens:

  • There are too many IT restrictions in place. Frustrations often arise amongst c-level executives because they feel there are already too many IT restrictions, with 68% of respondents feeling that these restrictions compromise their privacy. It can be difficult to ask them to implement more security measures at this point.
  • C-suite execs don’t understand. IT is often not in a c-level executive’s wheelhouse, which is why 58% of them say it is too complicated to understand. Because the c-suite does not take the time to understand the risks posed by inadequate cybersecurity, they fail to prioritize it. 
  • IT advancements are not a priority. 42% of c-level executives just simply don’t prioritize cybersecurity. While there could be many reasons behind this, it is often the result of a lack of knowledge, or a desire to see budgets focused elsewhere.

While it’s important to understand a c-suite’s or board’s objections to increased data security measures, it’s even more important to understand how to change their minds.

Why c-suites should care

Apathy toward cyber security in the c-suite or at the board level is a risk to the safety, reputation, and profit of an enterprise of any size. Instead, it’s important to arm executives with information that helps them adopt a proactive approach to overall data security — for both the enterprise and themselves. 

C-suites are often targets of privacy breaches

According to 78% of IT leaders, c-level executives are among some of the most likely to be targeted by phishing attacks. Nearly 84% of executives say they’ve been targeted at least once in the past year. Most of which were phishing attempts, and not just every day, easy-to-spot phishing attempts either. 

Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated, often impersonating other executives within the same company discussing enterprise accounts, credit card information, and wire transfers. The scariest, and most ironic, part of all is that these are the same executives (76% of CEOS) who also admit they’ve bypassed their own company security measures just to get something done more quickly.

Executives are not immune to falling victim to these attacks. Even some of the most well-known executives have fallen victim, including ex-Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, whose phone was hacked through a popular messaging app in 2018. 

Breaches can cost the enterprise big time

The consequences of falling for one of these phishing attacks — or any breach across an enterprise — can be massively detrimental. If a company can even afford to stay in business after a breach or attack, the aftermath will create more hurdles for everyone in the organization to deal with, from network downtime to increased (and frustrating) security measures.

Most importantly, however, is that not focusing on cybersecurity is costly. The average cost of a data breach currently sits at $3.86 million per event. This figure is up 10% over the past five years and is likely rising. But it’s more than just the money; it’s about the exposure of personal data too, for both the company and clients. A data breach can have a devastating impact on a company’s reputation, which may never be fully repaired. 

Getting the c-suite onboard

Protecting an enterprise from cybersecurity attacks requires the c-suite and board members to focus on and prioritize cybersecurity within their organizations. This means working together with IT decision-makers to get on the same page. A 2018 survey shows clear disparities in cybersecurity concerns and what efforts need to be prioritized, with the c-suite often prioritizing protecting employee data, while IT prioritizes financial data. 

Getting on the same page will require both teams to learn how to communicate on common ground. The c-suite needs to take ownership of the critical role they play in their enterprise’s cybersecurity. At the same time, IT departments and teams can make their information more accessible — with the use of less complicated data and jargon. Finding this delicate balance is essential (and not always easy), as IT teams will need to educate executives about risks and consequences, which will require more communication and “face time.” 

Ideally, your enterprise will get to a point where at least one c-suite executive is involved in IT decision-making. 

Finding common ground (and budgets)

With the right approach and a focus on communication, c-suites, executives, and IT decision-makers can focus on improving their organization’s cyber security efforts and investments. Of course, determining the right budget for your cyber security can be difficult for any enterprise — and may be the biggest hurdle to making important changes. 

However, financing solutions like Sanity Capital can help the c-suite and IT decision-makers finally find common ground. Sanity Capital offers companies the option to lease or pay as they use flexible consumption pricing, helping organizations get the equipment and technology they need to protect themselves and their customers without the up-front cash expenses often required. 
If your organization is struggling to prioritize cybersecurity due to education or a restricted budget, the dedicated team at Sanity Solutions and Sanity Capital can help.