/
Cyber Resilience

3 Steps CISOs Must Take to Prove Cybersecurity Value

Boards know that cyber risk is a key component of operational risk, and they’re increasingly demanding that CISOs demonstrate tangible security gains.  

For leaders feeling this growing pressure, the key to success lies in shifting our focus from threats to value. It’s time to move away from qualitative reporting to more quantitative, value-based measures to demonstrate the ways cybersecurity programs are supporting business outcomes.

Here are the three steps I recommend security leaders take to embrace a value-based approach that will succeed in the boardroom and protect your organization from evolving cyber threats.

1. Work backward from business objectives

To truly speak to board-level security concerns, security teams must work backward from business outcomes. It’s no longer enough to think about security as a tick-box exercise — CISOs and their teams must have a focused strategy that proves efficacy and efficiency.

By aligning security objectives with the overarching business goals, you can demonstrate how your program and its spending aligns with the business’ key outcomes while contributing to improving overall organizational resilience. This will force a move away from qualitative reporting to more quantitative value-based measures to demonstrate the impact of cybersecurity.

For example, don’t simply say the organization should invest in improving authentication because it’s an important security tactic. Instead, explain how a top business goal will benefit from prioritizing authentication and investing in an enhanced authentication solution. This updated mindset ensures you’re only investing in the technology that enables you to demonstrate value aligned with business goals.

2. Rigorously demonstrate security ROI

Despite massive investments in security tools, organizations across every industry, geography, and size are still experiencing catastrophic cyberattacks. In fact, IBM’s 2023 Cost of a Data Breach report found that data breaches costed organizations $4.45 million on average last year. This proves that many security teams are putting security technology in place without having proof that it’s making a positive impact on cyber resilience.

It's time to connect cybersecurity efforts with tangible and measurable resilience benefits. Every dollar spent on cybersecurity should show significant gains in security posture or measurable risk reduction.  

Boards acknowledge that cyber risk plays an important role in the organization’s operational risk. They will demand that cybersecurity leaders demonstrate tangible cybersecurity gains. Security teams must rigorously demonstrate that investments are directly tied to real benefits. Boards, demanding more data and evidence, will assess the cost of fixing cyber problems against the financial risks of leaving them unaddressed.

3. Strategize and communicate in business terms

Cybersecurity risk is business risk — and it’s up to CISOs to translate security tactics into a unified security strategy that helps mitigate this risk.  

Data-driven cybersecurity is becoming the norm, and security leaders are expected to provide regular updates on how cyber initiatives and tools have reduced or mitigated risk and boosted resiliency. Boards will want to know how security initiatives are supporting business outcomes. Unfortunately, many CISOs aren’t communicating with top leadership enough.

According to research by the Harvard Business Review, only 47 percent of board members interact with their CISOs on a regular basis.

It’s essential to adopt a risk-based approach, ideally built around principles like defense-in-depth or Zero Trust. A cohesive strategy will guide not only your decision-making but ensure business leadership can see how you’re developing a comprehensive defense against threats.

When speaking about your program, especially in a board-level setting, engage in conversations related to the organizational top-line and bottom-line objectives rather than specific security tactics or threats. This strategic communication approach ensures that cybersecurity isn’t seen as only a cost center but as an integral part of achieving business success.  

The security leaders who will win are those who can clearly articulate the impact their programs are having on the business.

A value-based approach to cybersecurity is the future

The era of checkbox exercises, qualitative data, and misaligned strategies is over for cybersecurity. It’s imperative for cybersecurity leaders to transition from a threat-centric to a value-centric approach, aligning security efforts with business objectives. Those who prioritize a value-based approach will emerge as winners in the long run. Anticipate a future where a value-centric approach filters into how we measure progress throughout security, including upcoming compliance mandates from global governments.  

Get in touch to learn how Illumio can support your organization’s top cybersecurity initiatives.

Related topics

No items found.

Related articles

Why Traditional Security Approaches Don't Work in the Cloud
Cyber Resilience

Why Traditional Security Approaches Don't Work in the Cloud

Erika Bagby, Illumio's principal product marketing manager discusses cloud security vs. traditional security and why it doesn’t work in the cloud environment.

Cyber Resilience Approaches, New Illumio Tools, and the Hacking Humans Podcast
Cyber Resilience

Cyber Resilience Approaches, New Illumio Tools, and the Hacking Humans Podcast

Illumio's April news coverage shows the innovative work Illumio is doing to be a leader in the security industry.

Connected Medical Devices: Healthcare’s Top Cybersecurity Vulnerability
Cyber Resilience

Connected Medical Devices: Healthcare’s Top Cybersecurity Vulnerability

Get insight into connected IoT medical device security vulnerabilities and how to solve it with Zero Trust Segmentation.

5 Tips for Getting Board Buy-in for Your Cybersecurity Investments
Cyber Resilience

5 Tips for Getting Board Buy-in for Your Cybersecurity Investments

Learn why it's crucial to shift board conversations from cybersecurity problems to enablement, risk, remediation, and quantifiable benefits.

5 Tips for Getting the Best ROI From Your Cybersecurity Investments
Cyber Resilience

5 Tips for Getting the Best ROI From Your Cybersecurity Investments

Learn how to extract ROI from your investments to improve your security posture, mitigate risk, and ensure a robust security strategy.

The 5 Best Zero Trust Tips from Infosys CISO Vishal Salvi
Zero Trust Segmentation

The 5 Best Zero Trust Tips from Infosys CISO Vishal Salvi

Vishal Salvi, who is responsible for information security at Infosys, discusses the evolution of the CISO over the past 25 years and Zero Trust tips.

Assume Breach.
Minimize Impact.
Increase Resilience.

Ready to learn more about Zero Trust Segmentation?