Cybersecurity is undoubtedly a critical aspect of board oversight, but an overwhelming majority of directors rate their and their board’s knowledge of IT risk as “in need of improvement.” More than three quarters of directors believe their personal IT knowledge could use a boost and nearly 90 percent believe the same of their board’s IT knowledge. A lack of cyber knowledge at the board level can lead to overreliance on C-suite experts and difficulty by directors in judging an appropriate level of involvement.
Recognizing the disconnect between the need for effective cybersecurity oversight and the boardroom’s lack of IT acumen, NACD, supported by Protiviti and Dentons, convened three roundtable discussions, bringing together directors, executives, and experts in the field of cybersecurity. These meetings provided insight into the numerous and significant risks presented by cybersecurity, while experts pinpointed deficiencies in board responses to threats and possible solutions. Key statements from participants prompted NACD, Protiviti, and Dentons to address issues demanding director attention and action:
- Boardroom cyber literacy: “Cyber literacy can be considered similar to financial literacy. Not everyone on the board is an auditor, but everyone should be able to read a financial statement and understand the financial language of business.”
- Identifying high-value information targets: “Do not just harden the perimeter, because hackers will get in. Accept that they can get in, and then design the strategy with the assumption they are already ‘inside.’”
- Formulating detection and response plans: “When your company is hacked, do not start spending money like a drunken sailor.”
- The human factor: “People are the constant weakness. Cybersecurity is a human issue. Often the biggest problems are caused by an inadvertent actor.”
Cybersecurity: Boardroom Implications contains information on these issues and more, including questions directors can ask when planning for a breach and when a breach is discovered. Click here for your complimentary copy of the report.