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10 Ways You and the Board Should Share the Security and Risk Burden

Never mind sophisticated hackers, advanced attacks or naïve employees, one of the most aggravating and tense job responsibilities facing security professionals is interacting with the board of directors. But for even the most old-school infosec executives, board meetings have become as elemental to their profession as maintaining technology to help defend against the latest strain of ransomware.

If your organization is striving for advanced security maturity, security must be woven into its fabric. To achieve this, security leaders like the CISO should report to a non-IT leader, preferably the CEO, and commit to regular communications with the board of directors.

But the onus of responsibility doesn't solely fall on you. The board itself should also play an important role by taking security seriously and engaging the CISO in thoughtful dialogue.

Here is a quick list of 10 pointers for establishing a mutually beneficial relationship between you and the board - one through which the entire organization will reap benefits:

What the CISO Should Do to Help the Board Make Informed Decisions Around Security and Risk

  1. Develop and communicate a security mission statement rooted in business enablement
  2. Determine your risk appetite and document your risk tolerance in layman's terms
  3. Choose a security framework and map initiatives to that framework
  4. Establish unbreakable rules around security responsibility and information sharing
  5. Keep the board updated on security trends and be prepared to discuss specifics, such as how the organization is responding to a specific threat drawing headlines

What the Board Should Do to Support a Culture of Security Awareness and Accountability

  1. Approach and understand cybersecurity as an enterprise-wide risk issue
  2. Learn the legal implications of cyber risks
  3. Access cybersecurity expertise by giving cyber risk discussions adequate time on the board meeting agenda
  4. Set the expectation that management will establish an enterprise-wide risk management framework with adequate staffing and budget
  5. Discuss cyber risks from the perspective of identifying which risks to avoid, mitigate, accept, or transfer through insurance, as well as specific plans associated with each

In the coming months, we'll have more to share with you around this topic. In the meantime, if you have a specific question, please leave it in the comments and we'll get it answered.

Dan Kaplan is manager of online content at Trustwave and a former IT security reporter and editor.

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