What Your Executives Want to Know Versus What You Tell Them

Published On: May 8, 2024Categories: Cybersecurity, Blog

There’s often a stark contrast between what security leaders communicate and what their executive team and board of directors want to hear. CISO Board and Executive Reporting and communication are vital to the success of the information security function. Any discrepancy in aligning with business can be profound and, if not addressed, detrimental to both an organization’s security posture and the perceived value of the cybersecurity function.

Many security leaders, who are deeply entrenched in the technical nuances of their field, are keen to share detailed reports about mitigated vulnerabilities, patch cycles, and intrusion attempts. While crucial for internal cybersecurity operations, these metrics often fail to resonate at the board level simply because your audience, in most cases, does not understand the business impact of operational metrics. Executives and board members are not interested in the operational details as they are in understanding how these activities align with the organization’s broader business goals and the risk implications affecting those goals.

The provocative question one may ask is whether your board wants to hear about the quantity of vulnerabilities patched, or would they prefer to understand how your cybersecurity strategies help the organization save money or make money? The answer seems obvious, yet many security leaders continue to miss the mark. If the IT-centric security leader cannot make a pivot in the form of clear, compelling, and business-focused messaging to senior executives, s/he will lose their audience quickly.

Today’s savvy security leaders communicate cybersecurity in the context of business impact, both positive and negative. This means shifting the focus from technical achievements to strategic outcomes. For example, instead of highlighting the number of vulnerabilities mitigated, a security leader may illustrate how these actions prevented potential financial losses, preserved customer trust, and supported business resilience. How has the cybersecurity function helped improve operational efficiencies, reduce defects, increase speed to market, or help the organization differentiate itself from competitors? These are the sorts of metrics that grab the attention of senior executives, justify cybersecurity investments, and elevate the credibility of the security leader.

This shift requires rethinking the cybersecurity reporting model. Security leaders need processes and platform(s) that track technical metrics and translate these into business impacts near real-time. Such platforms enable cybersecurity leaders to provide updates directly tied to business value. Examples of associating cybersecurity with business value include risk reduction percentages, remaining risk exposure, impact on company objectives, and investments for mitigation activities.

Ultimately, security leaders can bridge the communications gap between them and their executives by changing the narrative and emphasizing cybersecurity’s role in enabling the business to operate smoothly and securely. By aligning their reporting with what the board wants to know, security leaders can enhance their strategic value and ensure their insights provide informed, effective decision-making at the highest level.

For security leaders looking to elevate their strategic role and influence within their organization, adopting a solution – such as the TrustMAPP® Cybersecurity Performance Management platform –tracking and reporting cybersecurity posture while quantifying workflows – can be transformative. TrustMAPP provides a dynamic view of your cybersecurity posture, translating technical metrics into business impacts in real-time. This not only improves content for Board and executive team presentation but also boosts the overall credibility of the security leader and their program.

Investing in a platform that focuses on cybersecurity performance is not just about having the latest technology – it’s about advancing the business and elevating conversations as a security leader. TrustMAPP enables organizational leaders to make informed, strategic decisions that can lead to significant competitive advantages.

Connect with our team to have a conversation to improve the alignment of your cybersecurity strategy with your organization’s business goals. showing the executive team that robust security is a cornerstone of business success. Close the gap between what you communicate and what your senior stakeholders need to hear by focusing on the strategic value of cybersecurity in driving business success.