The CISO’s Guide to Speaking the Board’s Language on Cybersecurity

Gaining executive buy-in and budget for cybersecurity initiatives represents an ongoing challenge for many CISOs. The disconnect often stems from security leaders communicating in technical versus business impact terms.

In this guide, we’ll outline proven strategies for CISOs to engage board members more effectively by speaking their language. With compelling, financially-grounded cases, you can align the board as allies to drive security progress.

Quantify Risk in Financial Terms

Rather than leading with technical threat scenarios, clearly quantify cyber risks in potential business costs like revenue loss, recovery expenses, fines, customer churn, and brand damage. Work with the CFO to estimate worst-case financial impacts for high-risk breach scenarios.

Present cyber risk models in terms the board already uses to evaluate business tradeoffs, like reduced profits, higher insurance premiums, and increased cost of capital. These bottom line effects get executive attention.

Prioritize Investments Using ROI

For new security investments like tools or staff, build compelling cases by estimating the reduction in cyber risk costs enabled by these programs. A $500K platform preventing $2 million in potential fraud delivers a compelling 4X ROI.

Compare similar buying decisions the board routinely evaluates on financial merits like new manufacturing plants or acquisitions. Cyber investments should be evaluated on ROI like any other business decision.

Track Security as a Business Metric

Propose establishing cyber risk management as an official corporate goal alongside other KPIs the board monitors like revenue and customer retention. Provide routine updates on quantifiable progress markers like percentage of systems secured, users trained, and incidents avoided.

present top-level metrics the board can digest to demonstrate steady security improvements over time, just as with other business metrics. This underscores security’s integral role in the overall enterprise.

Benchmark Against Peers

Compare the company’s security maturity level and technology adoption to peers or industry averages. If competitors invest more in platforms that reduce breaches, this builds a case to catch up to industry best practices.

Conversely, superior performance benchmarks validate that current investments are paying dividends versus peers. Either way, competitive comparisons resonate with leadership.

By speaking the language of business impact and financial returns, CISOs can align the entire C-suite as partners in cyber risk mitigation. Contact DBGM to discuss shaping messages that resonate with your board and drive security forward.