22 Apr 2021

Why the future of your business lies in your CISO’s hands

Guest blog: Kevin Brown, Managing Director at BT Security as part of our #Cyber2021 Week.

New research into consumer, employee and business leader attitudes to cybersecurity makes it imperative that CISOs take a leading business role.

Our recent research, available here, confirms that cybersecurity is the top issue on the agenda in boardrooms around the globe. Only the pandemic has the power to overshadow security issues right now. And this means that it’s the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) who will be expected to step forward and enable the business as it settles into new ways of digital working.

But CISOs can only make effective plans if they understand the context and know what business leaders, employees and consumers think about cybersecurity. Will they cooperate and do whatever’s necessary to protect you and them? Or is there still work to do to win over hearts and minds?

BT Security’s largest ever research project – CISO under the Spotlight – identifies the major trends that are impacting the role of the CISO, and the worrying behaviours that show the need for a strategic response.

Your security depends on your people

The research backs up what I’ve seen in so many companies: people are still fundamental to cybersecurity. You can have all the solutions in the world, but if people don’t follow basic cybersecurity measures, you’re wide open to breaches. Despite all the cyber threats out there, the easiest way to infiltrate any organisation is still through an employee.

Our respondents were brutally honest and what they told us is alarming. 45% of employees said they’d had a security incident while working and not declared it. Alongside that, people knowingly take risks online, even though they understand the dangers. Employees are losing work laptops and phones and not reporting it or are giving their work logins and passwords to others.

Security wins customers

64% of consumers said they’d recommend firms that make big efforts to keep data secure. This shows that a business visibly on the cybersecurity ball will reassure consumers and create confidence in its digital products and services, carving itself a competitive advantage. Corroborating that point, 67% of consumers said that security is more important than convenience.

The research consistently shows that security is increasingly a deciding factor for customer choices. It also highlights the huge opportunity to differentiate your business by displaying your security credentials, given that only 16% of consumers strongly agree they trust large organisations to protect their personal data.

How can a CISO combat this?

Inside the organisation, CISOs need to look beyond technological solutions and super-charge the human firewall. Start by sharpening up security hygiene so your people adopt digitally safe behaviours and are actively on their guard against cyber threats. And externally, don’t be afraid to increase security measures. The good news is, the balance has tipped and there’s new positivity towards cybersecurity with consumers and employees ready to embrace more security measures to stay safe online. 

I’ve just scratched the surface of the findings here; I really recommend you take a look at the full report to find out how critical the role of the CISO is to your cybersecurity and your business.

Dan Patefield

Dan Patefield

Programme Head, Cyber and National Security, techUK

Charlie Wyatt

Programme Assistant, techUK

Jill Broom

Programme Manager, Cyber Security & Central Government, techUK

Sam Wyatt

Sam Wyatt

Programme Manager, Defence and Cyber Security, techUK