There’s a growing trend in cyberattacks that target the company’s executives. CEOs, CIOs, and CISOs have access to the company's most sensitive information, making them a tempting target. To avoid unfortunate events, having comprehensive executive cybersecurity is a top priority.
Digital Executive Cybersecurity refers to all the policies, practices, and methods that help protect the organization’s executive members. Executive cybersecurity aims to develop an effective cybersecurity strategy that aligns with the business objectives. It involves identifying potential cyber risks, mitigating them, and ensuring that employees are trained regularly on cybersecurity best practices.
According to the stats, the average data breach cost for a company in the USA in 2021 was 8.6 million U.S. dollars, and the cost per stolen record was 150 U.S. dollars. 64 % of the respondents believe that senior executive members are the most likely to get hit by a cyber attack.
All the above stats suggest that it is crucial to have strong cybersecurity measures for the company's executive members. Whether you own a company or are trying to learn executive cybersecurity protection, this guide is for you.
What Is Digital/Cyber Executive Security Protection?
All the policies and methods used to protect the executives of the companies against a cyber threat and mitigate such risks come under the term Executive Cybersecurity Protection. For instance, you may notice that all the executives, such as politicians and celebrities, are often seen with a lot of executive protection.
The same is the case when it comes to the protection of the executives of the company. For instance, CEOs, COOs, CTOs, etc., are high-risk individuals because of their wealth, employment status, and travel activities. Big firms spend millions of U.S. dollars on protecting the upper tiers, and Facebook spends 10 million U.S. dollars on the executive protection of Mark Zuckerberg.
Why Are Executives of Big Firms Such Lucrative Targets?
Executives of large companies are becoming increasingly attractive targets for cybercriminals. It is valid for several reasons, but the most significant is that they are usually in charge of the company's cybersecurity policies. It means they have access to sensitive information that cybercriminals can use to their advantage.
There are many other reasons as well, including:
- They are a potentially big payout if compromised.
- Customers and corporate data are susceptible to them.
- Because they hold significant power in the organization, they can be spoofed for a substantial impact.
- In addition to having a larger public profile, they can provide more information needed to build a credible spoofing operation.
- Their frequent travels may expose them to attacks in more hostile regions.
Guidelines for Reducing the Risks of Cyber Attacks Against Executives
Numerous strategies exist to improve executive cyber security protection, which is essential for firms. Short, entertaining lectures that imitate actual phishing attacks may be used to teach CEOs about security awareness while keeping their attention.
Better Communication and Regular Updates
Executives' attention might also be drawn to the problem by being reminded of security breaches' financial and reputational repercussions. Changing the corporate reporting structure such that the chief information security officer sits at the executive table and reports directly to the CEO is another way for organizations to strengthen their cyber security.
By specifying key performance indicators and metrics, the cyber security program may be formalized and better synchronized with the company and its management. Regular updates on the most recent threat information are necessary to keep the C-suite informed and involved. It is also critical to contextualize dashboards and KPIs to ensure that money is allocated to the proper places.
Training the Executives
Businesses can strengthen the security of their executives by educating them about security awareness. They can remind them of the consequences of breaches, change the corporate reporting structure, and formalize the cyber security program. The executives regularly update the C-suite, comprehending the risks and considering executive breach attack simulations.
Training the Whole Company
Executive Breach Attack Simulations (BAS) might be an effective strategy to teach the whole C-suite how to respond to a cyber attack. With automation, BAS's rich features and functionality make it possible to engage more actively in cyber defense while validating the efficacy of security policies. It might play a significant role in an organization's cyber protection plan.
Executives are essential in defending against cyber threats and preserving their company's confidential data and intellectual property. Executives may take several crucial measures to safeguard their company from cyberattacks and lessen the possible effects of a data leak. We will review some essential tactics CEOs may use to strengthen their company's cybersecurity posture.
Install security patches and often update your software
Organizations are in danger of software flaws, which fraudsters frequently use to access critical information or systems. CEOs should ensure that security fixes are implemented as soon as they become available and that their company's software is constantly updated. Doing this decreases the chance of a data breach brought on by a known software vulnerability.
Employ Multi-Factor Authentication
Multiple-factor authentication adds a degree of protection to defend against cyberattacks. Organizations may lower the risk of unwanted access to sensitive data or systems by requiring users to submit several kinds of authentication, such as a password and a fingerprint.
Protect Sensitive Info Using Encryption
A crucial method for defending sensitive data from online threats is encryption. The encryption of sensitive data should be a priority for executives, both during transit and at rest. Thanks to encryption, data may only be readable with the proper decryption key, even if a cybercriminal intercepts it.
Perform Risk Assessments Often
Risk assessments are essential for spotting possible cybersecurity threats and creating mitigation plans. To find possible weaknesses in their firm's systems, procedures, and policies, executives should frequently undertake risk assessments. Executives may proactively identify potential cybersecurity issues by often performing risk assessments and taking action to mitigate them before hackers can use them.
There’s always a choice to get a consultancy from professional cybersecurity providers. Companies can opt for third-party cybersecurity service providers, and third-party cybersecurity usually involves outsourced cybersecurity.
HIPAA Regulations and Executive Cybersecurity Protection
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a set of these methods and regulations that protects the privacy and security of the most sensitive information, healthcare information. This particular act aims to protect sensitive patient information from unauthorized access.
Impact of HIPAA on Executive Cybersecurity Protection
Though the primary purpose of the HIPAA regulations is to protect patient data, they have a significant effect on executive cybersecurity protection. Many firms and businesses feature top executives who have also covered entities under HIPAA, and that’s why these executives must ensure that they comply with HIPAA regulations.
All the covered entities under HIPAA are bound to have some security measures. They include access controls, audit controls, and encryption. These protective measures are used to protect ePHI. These methods can also benefit executive cybersecurity protection by limiting the risk of data breaches and other cyber threats.
Moreover, the covered entities under HIPAA are bound to regularly assess all the security risks and update all the systems accordingly. These particular risk assessments process can also benefit the executives of the company. Such lucrative protection should always include identifying all the potential vulnerabilities and methods to mitigate such risks.
Consequences of HIPAA Violations for Executives
One should never violate any HIPAA regulations, let alone if the person is an executive of the company. HIPAA violations can lead the company towards financial penalties, damage to reputation, and even criminal charges. Executives of the company can lose their license or accreditation, and they will lose their reputation.
Cybersecurity Training for Executives
Because cyber threats are becoming sophisticated and prevalent, executives need to have a good understanding of cybersecurity risks and best practices to avoid them. All executives should always be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to protect the organization’s assets.
Types of Cybersecurity Training for Executives
There are a few types of cybersecurity training available for executives. They include basic awareness training to more in-depth technical training. Some of the most common cybersecurity training are listed below.
- Basic Awareness Training: All executives should have a basic understanding of cybersecurity threats. They should be familiar with the best practices that can help them identify potential cyber threats. If the executives possess such awareness training and knowledge, only then can they build and maintain a company and deploy a foundational understanding of cybersecurity risks.
- Technical Training: This training provides more in-depth knowledge of cybersecurity threats and technical solutions to mitigate such risks. The executives, especially the CTO of the company, should be experts in this area of cyber threats. With this training, the executives will better understand how to oversee an IT department and manage critical infrastructure.
- Role-Based Training: This type of training is tailored to specific job roles. They provide executives with a better understanding, knowledge, and skills that are unnecessary to executive cybersecurity-related duties effectively. It’s necessary for all the executives responsible for cybersecurity oversight within their firm.
Importance of Cybersecurity Training for Executives
All the facts and stats we have mentioned so far in this guide suggest how important it is for the company's executives to have proper knowledge of cyber threats. The only way to achieve this is through cybersecurity training for executives.
For instance, an executive without this knowledge would perform pointless actions. Even if they manage to build up a company, there’s no way that company will survive long. All the employees look up to the company executives and follow their path.
If the executives are not committing to cybersecurity, it will never create a culture of cybersecurity awareness throughout the organization.
Moreover, executives equipped with the knowledge of cyber threats and under this cybersecurity training are better at responding to a cyber attack. They will have proper knowledge that will allow them to take steps to minimize a cyber-attack impact.
Incident Response Planning for Executives
It’s essential for all the executives and employees of the company to have a comprehensive knowledge of incident response planning. It involves identifying, investigating, and responding to security breaches and cyber-attacks.
Incident response planning for executives
In the incident response plan, the organization's executives focus on creating a framework that outlines all the necessary steps to be taken in case of a cyber-attack. The framework helps to identify the scope of the attack, assess it, contain it, and recover from it. It also includes the communication protocols, such as who needs to be notified and what information must be shared.
Importance of Having a Plan in Place for When a Cyber-Attack Occurs
As cyber-attacks are becoming sophisticated and frequent, all organizations must be prepared to respond quickly and effectively. They can only do that if they have a proper framework featuring a good response plan. It allows the executives to minimize the damage and avoid long-term consequences.
Having an incident response plan in place allows the firms to reduce the impact of a cyber-attack. Organizations can prevent a minor cyber attack from turning into a full-blown crisis and ensure the appropriate stakeholders' involvement by informing them accordingly.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires organizations to report data breaches within 72 hours. It is only possible if they have a proper incident response plan. The organizations can comply with this particular requirement and avoid such significant penalties.
The company's executives have to play a vital role in creating a better incident response plan. If the executives aren’t familiar with such tactics, their organization will crumble in days. If an organization lacks a basic understanding of cybersecurity, the executives must create a culture that can prevent long-term consequences.
As we have seen throughout this guide, executive cybersecurity is essential. In some cases, it is more critical than simple cybersecurity protection. If the company's executives aren’t safe, cybercriminals won’t take much to take down the whole company. If you are an executive of some company, it is your duty to ensure all the necessary cybersecurity measures to protect the company's assets.
A company's executives have access to the firm's significant assets. The threat is super high if the executives of the company are compromised. That’s why every detail mentioned above in this guide is crucial. This guide is enough to let you know all about executive cybersecurity protection.