Cybersecurity Is No Longer (Just) A CTO Problem

cybersecurity cto

At the advent of the information technology industry, companies of all types began employing IT teams to take care of the technology and digital data concerns. Soon, many executives realized they also needed someone to lead their IT teams and be the authority to make all technology decisions. That’s how the position of Chief Technology Officer (CTO) was born.

As the digital landscape changed and grew, CTOs faced challenges of all sorts. The biggest challenge — and the most threatening to business stability and productivity — was the rapid expansion of cyber-attacks. It became clear to CTOs, and their counterpart, the Chief Information Officer (CIO), that protecting a company against these types of attacks would be a sophisticated — but necessary — process. So as hackers grew in numbers, so did the companies providing cyber defenses.

These days, cybersecurity is often a given. No company’s IT department, especially one that deals with sensitive customer information, would dream of not encrypting files or using firewalls. While many cybersecurity companies still offer these basic protection tools, many have matured to fight even the most aggressive hackers.

This evolution of cybersecurity requires intelligent marketing that reaches beyond the CTO. It’s not just the CTO and CIOs who need convincing anymore. Cybersecurity, with such a presently wide breadth of effect, touches every aspect of a business, calling for all decision-makers and employees to be informed, educated and trained in company security practices.

Marketing beyond the CTO can improve conversions and effectiveness of a security solution.

Selling to the C-Suite

While the CTO is an important person to reach in selling cybersecurity, communicating with the rest of the C-suite is just as crucial. These executives often hold the keys to making decisions that can really help the company.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security knows the ripple effect a CEO can have when it comes to cybersecurity. To reinforce the significance of this, the department has provided a list of questions CEOs should be addressing within their corporations in regards to defending information against cyber-attacks. The list touches on evaluating, reporting and managing cyber risks.

With so many companies suffering from cyber-attacks, the problem is not an unknown threat to leaders or the average employee. This widespread publicity of the issue makes it easier to connect with CEOs, CFOs and CMOs about the best defenses against hacking. If the C-suite executives want to demonstrate well-rounded leadership, they should take the initiative when it comes to cybersecurity.

Advocating that the executive offices of a company take proactive steps in cyber protection leads to better understanding of cybersecurity from the top down. Demonstrating knowledge of the problem communicates trust and stability. If the CEO isn’t anxious about possible threats, she is showing her employees they shouldn’t be either.

Cybersecurity is Everyone’s Responsibility

Digital threats are on everyone’s minds in today’s seemingly fragile cyber environment. The annual Chapman University survey about what Americans fear most revealed that, in 2015, citizens fear cyber terrorism just below government corruption. This broad unease of a prevalent issue may be alarming to the mass public but is a good sign for the understanding and cooperation to mitigate the problem. Fear is an excellent motivator in encouraging people to take necessary measures for security.

Cybersecurity is not just the concern of a company’s IT team or higher office. It should be on the mind of all employees. Having every worker trained and informed about keeping information secure and what defenses are in place help fight threats from all angles.

The data breach at the health insurance conglomerate Anthem was caused by a number of factors and conducted by outside hackers, but employees were a key piece of the story. It was through imitation company websites where employees were directed through email to enter account numbers and passwords that hackers accessed the personal information of 80 million customers. It was a non-security employee who noticed his database credentials were being used to run a query he had not originated. Without his vigilance, the breach may have affected even more people and continued even longer.

If the Anthem employees had been properly educated about keeping data secure, a huge breach could have been prevented. It is the smallest actions and efforts that can keep data in the right hands with the right safeguards in place. What some companies haven’t yet grasped is that every employee has an obligation to do his part in defending networks against attacks.

Changing the Mindset

Marketing cybersecurity involves influencing everyone at a company from the biggest decision makers to the lowest level employees. Changing the way the business world thinks about cybersecurity calls for intelligent strategies and appealing to customer logic.

It is more than a CTO’s duty to find and implement the best defenses. Because cyber security affects a wider range of business operations, it is valuable to send cybersecurity marketing messages beyond the IT department. CEOs and entry-level workers all face the same burden of protecting digital data.