The Value of a Cybersecurity Dashboard for the Board of Directors

By Susanne Gurman

Posted on Jun 1, 2020

The threat landscape is regularly and rapidly changing across all industries. For this reason, organizations and their executive suites need to have an up-to-date understanding of the cyber threats within their industry or sector.

That said, reporting cybersecurity to the Board can lead to misunderstandings and confusion as the data is often rooted in technical jargon that might not be easily understood by non-specialists. For effective reporting, data should be presented clearly and succinctly to help them identify relevant, actionable intelligence. This helps ensure that your security team’s efforts are aligned organizational goals, and that time and resources aren’t being wasted on low priority pursuits.

Challenges of reporting to the Board

Cybersecurity can be a complex topic for someone who is not an IT professional, so one of the greatest challenges of reporting to the Board is ensuring that all members understand the information being presented. Some members will likely be unfamiliar with technical terminology, which can make it challenging to relay critical information for decision making.

Another challenge comes with deciding what information is or isn’t worth including in your reporting dashboard. IT professionals often track many security KPIs on a regular basis, but not all of them will be worth sharing with the Board. IT professionals have to consider factors such as time constraints and the usability of the data in forward-thinking strategies.

What information does a cybersecurity dashboard display?

An effective cybersecurity dashboard display should update the Board on any changes or trends happening in the threat landscape, as well as the status of initiatives or programs that have been put in place to mitigate risk and protect vulnerable assets. The specific metrics to display on a dashboard will vary from one organization to the next and should be determined based on business goals and objectives, as well as the organization’s need for efficiency and standardization across the enterprise.

The goal is to choose metrics that everyone can easily understand and apply to future decision-making.

Examples of these key metrics and KPIs include:

  • The organization’s level of preparedness for an attack
  • Number of intrusion attempts on the network
  • Mean time to detect (MTTD) to measure how long it takes the team to become aware of an incident
  • Cybersecurity awareness training results for employees
  • Security ratings that show a comprehensive view of the network’s cybersecurity posture
  • Number of phishing and malware incidents
  • Vendor risk management to monitor third and fourth-party vendors
  • Number of covered, decommissioned, and covered assets

How does a cybersecurity dashboard help mitigate confusion and misunderstanding?

To help bridge the communication gap between IT security teams and Boards, cybersecurity dashboards should offer a high-level view of their organization’s cybersecurity network. With simplified details and comprehensive visibility, even nonspecialists will be able to confidently oversee cyber risks.

Many organizations and companies tend to divide operations into silos, which cuts off communication between departments and makes it harder for everyone to see the big picture. This can lead to misunderstanding and push back from employees. It’s more challenging to show the value of certain security measures, as they relate to the organization as a whole, when departments are unaware of what’s happening in other sections of the company.

A dashboard display aggregates all of the important and relevant risk information across the organization, helping Boards to make better-informed decisions that help balance cybersecurity efforts with operational efficiencies. When building a cybersecurity dashboard, present only the most relevant and critical information, helping to mitigate confusion and lead to smarter data-driven decisions that address the biggest threats facing the organization.

How can SecurityScorecard help keep the Board up-to-date?

In an increasingly complex threat landscape, it’s more important than ever to effectively convey the vulnerabilities within an organization. Board members play a critical role in the implementation of adequate policies and protections, and if security teams want to obtain executive buy-in, they have to be able to accurately report cybersecurity risk as it relates to the organization’s bottom line and create a common understanding.

SecurityScorecard’s executive-level reporting enables more productive conversations by establishing a groundwork for reporting and presenting only the most relevant information needed to drive future operational decisions. When Boards can use objective measurements to make informed decisions, risk can be more easily mitigated across the enterprise.

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