The first step to improving a company’s information security program is establishing a baseline of what that program looks like and where it is lacking. This means understanding the current state of your organization’s data, assessing the risk of losing that data, and identifying what could be done to prevent such a loss. However, organizations often need help approaching this conversation with executives and other stakeholders without them turning it into a cost-cutting exercise. To successfully propose an information security program without focusing on cost—and get it implemented—you need to shift the conversation away from dollars spent on IT projects and instead focus on why investing in such a program can benefit your organization in the long run.
Focus on the risks: Instead of discussing the program’s cost, focus on the potential risks that the organization faces.
Instead of discussing the cost of your information security program, focus on the risks your organization faces.
When proposing an information security program to management, framing the conversation about risk is important. Risks can be broadly defined as anything that could negatively impact an organization’s ability to achieve its business objectives or cause harm to people and property. Some common examples include:
- Data breaches result in public embarrassment or loss of customer trust in your organization.
- Disruption of operations due to a cyberattack on critical infrastructure (e.g., power grid).
Consider specific risks based on what you know about your organization’s unique circumstances- for example, if sensitive personal data is stored within your network environment- and highlight these accordingly when discussing the potential consequences of not investing in proper protection measures.
Highlight the benefits: Talk about the potential benefits of the program, such as reducing the risk of data breaches, improving customer trust and loyalty, and complying with legal and regulatory requirements.
It’s important to highlight the benefits: Talk about the potential benefits of the program, such as reducing the risk of data breaches, improving customer trust and loyalty, and complying with legal and regulatory requirements.
Use real-world examples: Use real-world examples of organizations that have suffered from data breaches or other security incidents to illustrate the potential impact of such incidents.
Use real-world examples of organizations that have suffered from data breaches or other security incidents to illustrate the potential impact of such incidents. The more compelling and memorable your story, the better it’s chance of resonating with your audience.
An example might be an organization that has experienced a breach that led to the loss of sensitive data (e.g., credit card numbers or Social Security numbers). You could also use examples from well-known companies like Equifax and Target, who have publicly disclosed their breaches in recent years.
Discuss the competitive advantage: Emphasize the competitive advantage that an effective information security program can provide
When proposing an information security program, discussing the competitive advantage is important. An effective information security program can help your organization achieve its mission and compete more effectively by:
- Protecting sensitive data from theft or unauthorized disclosure
- Preventing system failures that could cost time, money, and reputation
- Avoiding costly lawsuits related to the loss of customer data
Focus on the long-term: Talk about the long-term benefits of the program, such as improved customer trust and loyalty, and the potential cost savings that can be achieved by avoiding data breaches and other security incidents.
- Focus on the long-term: Talk about the long-term benefits of the program, such as improved customer trust and loyalty, and the potential cost savings that can be achieved by avoiding data breaches and other security incidents.
- Be prepared with examples of how your company has previously saved money from an information security program.
- If you’re asking for funding for a new product or service, be prepared to show how it will help with compliance or security initiatives already underway at your organization.
If you propose an information security program, consider shifting the conversation from cost to potential risks, benefits, competitive advantages, and long-term opportunities. This will help ensure that your proposal is received with open ears and minds by decision-makers who may be more concerned about the bottom line than they are about keeping their organization safe from cyber attacks.
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