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Blog · 07 Feb 2023

How to effectively report cyber risk to the board and drive SAFE business

To successfully engage the board on issues around cyber security, CISOs need solutions that quantify security posture in real-time, and clearly illustrate potential risks to the business.

Vidit Baxi
Co-founder and CISO at Safe Security

In PWC’s 25th Annual Global CEO Survey, nearly three quarters of CEOs said they are now ‘extremely concerned’ about today’s cyber threats.

But although cyber security is moving up the list of board-level concerns, years of increased security spending without quantifiable results have created decision fatigue and exhausted board members on the topic.

With cyber fatigue at an all-time high, one of the biggest challenges for CISOs today is how they can successfully rally business leaders and boardrooms behind their cyber security efforts. To do this, they need to be able to translate security concerns into tangible impacts on the business and convince the board that cyber risk and business risk are, in fact, the same thing.

How to communicate cyber risk

Here are four key ways CISOs can help the board develop a meaningful understanding of their organisation’s cyber risk landscape and make informed, effective and collaborative decisions:

1. Translate cyber risk into business  impact

During conversations with the board, it can be easy for CISOs to get lost in the technicalities, obscuring the bigger picture. Instead, CISOs should always give context and connect any decision back to the financial impact or quantifiable risk to the business: “What will the business risk reduction be, if a particular cyber security policy is undertaken?” This will allow the board to gain an understanding of the cyber security posture of the business that was not previously available to them.

2. Quantify the current cyber security posture of the organisation

A quantitative assessment of the current cyber health of the organisation, especially when compared against industry benchmarks and peers, will establish a baseline for CISOs to work from and report progress back to the board. These realistic figures and tangible insights will help to explain where weaknesses lie, the current requirements of the organisation and the direction that the security strategy needs to move towards to reach its target secure state while being aligned with the overarching goals of the business.

3. Make a prioritised list of security actions 

By quantifying the risks to the organisation, and gaining a real-time perspective of where the greatest risks lie, CISOs can establish which are a priority according to the potential business impact. They can find ways to accept, mitigate, or transfer these risks using quantifiable data. This will help CISOs structure their future planning, security actions and investments. 

4. Measure and track the residual risk 

In any business, there will always be some residual risk - no matter how much effort is put towards uncertainty reduction. What matters is that the CISO and the board work together to identify and measure the risks to the best of their knowledge so that they fully understand the potential legal, financial, operational, and reputational consequences.

By establishing these four key areas, CISOs can build a solid foundation for future conversations and collaboration with the board on cyber security planning.

Taking the SAFE route

Quantifying risk in terms of business impact is integral to proactive and progressive communication at the board level. Here at SAFE, we’re experts at helping global enterprises take advantage of Cyber Risk Quantification – we’ve even devised an effective and scalable approach to implementing a framework in under four weeks. 

SAFE’s dedicated Cyber Risk Quantification and Management platform automatically collects signals from our customers’ internal attack surfaces, aggregates them and combines them with external threat intelligence. This data is then processed through specialised data algorithms to generate a SAFE score representing the entire enterprise’s cyber security health, expected financial loss by attack vector, and a priority order of security actions. The end result is contextual board-ready reports which help CISOs to clearly communicate cyber risk to the wider organisation. In fact, the SAFE solution was voted the best risk management solution at the 2022 CISO Choice Awards.

Assess your risk

Our aim is to make the SAFE score the industry standard for measuring and managing cyber risk.

That’s why we’re proud to partner with BT, to help quantify and mitigate their global customers’ cyber risks by combining their extensive global reach and network capabilities with our longstanding security solution and credentials. 

If you’d like to find out more about what SAFE with BT can do for you, please watch our short video.