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Beyond the Numbers: Adding Strategic Business Context to Metrics

CISOs too often focus on numbers and metrics that are disconnected from the strategic mission of the business. Cybersecurity can add value, however, by looking past the numbers to the steps being taken to facilitate a safe execution of business strategy. 

The secret to success as a CISO is forging relationships

The secret to success as a chief information security officer (CISO) “is forging relationships,” Nikk Gilbert, director of global information protection and assurance for ConocoPhillips (COP), said recently in the ebook, Using Security Metrics to Drive Action. “Metrics,” Gilbert continued, “can be a great way to solidify those relationships.” But it’s important for CISOs to form a strategic point of view with regards to the business objectives and use metrics to resonate those strategic views.

In the case of COP, this extends to the chief information security officer having a strong grasp of the ways COP geoscientists and reservoir engineers work together to find and extract petroleum around the world. These strategic relationships also need to extend to vendors, engineers, and the nuances of the locals that live in the locations where the engineering, geophysics and geology teams search for hydrocarbon reserves.

Within organizations like COP, CISOs and CIOs also build relationships with other C-level executives and upper management, which leads to even more benefits. For starters, a recent study from the CIO Association of Canada found that 67 percent of CEOs and CIOs are confused about how IT should be enabling the business. The same study also concluded that improving the IT-business alignment in organizations at the C-level can make IT operate more effectively and generate tangible value.

Spending is not adequately aligned with their mission

Despite the fact that global IT spending is over $4 trillion annually, companies are not getting the full value of this investment because the spending is not adequately aligned with their mission. By aligning spending with mission and by building relationships predicated on metrics and data that provide strategic value, organizations benefit in three tangible ways:

The truth comes out. Executives are often so consumed by the bottom line that they misunderstand or simply don’t know how susceptible organizations are to the calamitous effects of a successful cybersecurity attack. By building these relationships, C-level peers of the CISO are able to see past the numbers and contemplate the real impact of the danger that comes from a major breach.

Establish lines of communication that mitigate potential panic. By having a CISO build strong bonds with team members like risk and compliance executives, organizations can align their processes like business continuity planning with their cybersecurity practices. They can also establish lines of communication that help everyone remain calm and well informed in the event of a severe and successful attack.

Navigate compliance minefields. In industries in the energy sector, by aligning and building relationships with executives, CISOs can help the organization as a whole navigate potential compliance minefields. A good example of this is the recent need for complete operational technology and asset inventory tracking in the latest revision of the NERC CIP in the utilities sector. CISOs were often at the forefront, working with vendors to accomplish this feat.

CISOs need to build and foster relationships. And companies like Tenable Network Security can help make that happen by providing solutions that add end to end visibility and critical context, to move beyond vulnerability scanning to effective vulnerability management.

SecurityCenter™ by Tenable Network Security, for example, provides discovery and analysis, which becomes more effective in the hands of a CISO who has a strong understanding of the business goals and the direction of the organization. The customizable dashboards, reports and Assurance Report Cards™ in SecurityCenter arms the CISO with the tools he needs to socialize and support their viewpoints with colleagues and higher level executives.

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