3 Steps for Communicating Cyber Risk

You can talk about the extensive reputational damage a breach could cause, and how it will take years to repair. You can show the C-suite all your eye-catching, red-yellow-and-green charts. You can even get into the nitty-gritty of exactly where your organization’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities exist and how threat actors could squirm in and out with reams of sensitive data and files.

But when it comes to getting your leaders and colleagues to understand what’s really at stake if you neglect managing your cyber risk landscape, there’s one language that every stakeholder can immediately understand: financial impact.

The truth is, flashing dollar signs (especially red ones, with that little minus sign in front of them) command attention far more effectively than vague, color-coded descriptions. Telling your CFO “We stand to lose exactly $45 million dollars overnight if this unaddressed vulnerability is exploited, and the likelihood of that happening is very high” just carries a lot more weight than saying “We need to patch this vulnerability because it’s a critical business risk.”

Plus, every other function, from sales to marketing to accounting, uses these terms to communicate to the board and executive team. Why should it be any different for cybersecurity risk management?

Being able to state your case with that level of detail depends on the quality of your risk quantification capabilities.

Ditch the red-yellow-and-green charts

Ordinal risk matrices have been a mainstay of enterprise risk management for decades. Whether your ranking system is red, yellow, and green, one through five, or

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