Why Your Governance Strategy Needs Cybersecurity

January 2, 2024

Successful organizations ingrain corporate governance in all they do. Resilient organizations ingrain cyber risk management into their governance. If you believe the important notion that cyber risk is business risk, then cybersecurity should also be a crucial central element of board governance.


Food for thought. The average cost of a data breach in Canada is nearly CA$7 million. Cyberattacks also can result in data loss, downtime, a damaged reputation and customer churn — all of which affect an organization's ability to operate and effectiveness. From increasingly sophisticated cybercriminals and an exploding attack surface, to heightened financial consequences of successful attacks and new cyber regulations, it’s vital that organizations embed cyber resilience into all that they do so they can stand up to any cyber event.


Here are some tips to help integrate cybersecurity best practices in a comprehensive governance, risk and technology strategy.



Better Policy = Better Protection

The foundation of an effective cyber risk management program starts with a solid policy foundation.


Having a proper Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) professional leading your cyber risk management program is critical in today’s environment. They can help develop and manage policy lifecycles as they constantly need to be reviewed and updated as your organization changes, grows and matures.


Successful cyber governance includes audit, assessment and education.



Audit and Assessment

Developing and implementing a comprehensive, repeatable, sustainable audit and assessment program is key. This ensures you can complete the activities and meet the service level agreements you are levying against the security team and the other stakeholders.


Audit the true risk within your organization by identifying your most critical assets — data, systems and processes — as these are the most likely to be targeted by cybercriminals. Put plans in place to secure these assets first.


We also recommend utilizing maturity assessments to help you gain the right level of visibility into your information security program and understand your true risk profile.




The threat environment is incredibly dynamic, and threat actors are innovating at a rapid pace. Even if your directors have cyber capabilities, every organization should be seeking out tools or partners that can educate your board and senior leadership about the importance of cybersecurity as a business enabler and help them understand the inherent risks of being cyber complacent, so they can effectively discuss and react to the current cybersecurity environment.



Other Governance Strategies to Manage Cyber Risk

Organizations outside the cyber industry can still effectively manage cyber risk with the right resources and expertise. Here are a few foundational strategies that your organization can begin implementing today:


Enforce governance. Ensure security teams implement monitoring and benchmarks, so you can track how cybersecurity and resilience plans are performing, how they may need to be adjusted and how they enable secure business operations.


Identify your critical assets. Develop a plan around your company's current IT and business landscape and include processes to address weak points in your organization’s security posture.


Learn from every incident. Even with strong cybersecurity and resilience plans in place, no company is immune from cyber risk. If a cyber incident happens, take it as an opportunity to improve the business. Assess what went wrong and determine strategies to prevent it from happening again.


Promote a security-first culture. Leverage training and awareness programs to ensure that everyone in the organization understands the importance of security and knows how to spot potential threats.


Be SEC ready. In July, the SEC announced its finalized cyber disclosure rules that will require all public companies to disclose material breaches within four days once materiality is determined. The rules will become effective 90 days after their publication in the Federal Register or Dec. 18, 2023 (though smaller reporting companies will have up to an additional 180 days to comply). To stay on top of these changes, we are encouraging organizations to identify and ratify what materiality means for your company now (this includes potential negative impacts to brand as well) and ensure your board has cybersecurity risk management capabilities.


Digital transformation isn’t slowing down, and neither is the need for strong cybersecurity initiatives. Increasing costs, talent gaps and usage of AI tools are driving demand for cross-functional cybersecurity teams and expert partnerships. Better insights and communication can help your organization anticipate – rather than react to – threats, strengthening your security posture and accelerating business progress.


This article originally appeared in Reboot Communications' Securely Speaking December bulletin: https://www.rebootcommunications.com/securely-speaking-your-privacy-security-bulletin-issue2-december-2023/

Executive Director - Office of the CISO | Optiv

Optiv Security: Secure greatness.®

Optiv is the cyber advisory and solutions leader, delivering strategic and technical expertise to nearly 6,000 companies across every major industry. We partner with organizations to advise, deploy and operate complete cybersecurity programs from strategy and managed security services to risk, integration and technology solutions. With clients at the center of our unmatched ecosystem of people, products, partners and programs, we accelerate business progress like no other company can. At Optiv, we manage cyber risk so you can secure your full potential. For more information, visit www.optiv.com.