CEO – Where is your Cyber General?


When you travel the world in an airplane you do not have to worry about having a trained captain that ensures that you reach your destination safely. Similarly, CEOs would have to bring in CISOs that are qualified to lead then into battling the cyber threat.

The cyber battle is thrust upon the businesses in cyber space and CEO’s are expected to make their organizations resilient. CEOs are probably one of the most admired leaders in the industry as they are visionary, forward thinking and ability to navigate risk while exploring opportunities to grow.  They also tend to be most well read and informed people.

Worldwide Cyber threats are becoming frequent and constantly make news headlines. Data breaches and Cyber-attacks have embarrassed small or large companies, governments and citizens.  Ransomware, attacks on hotel chains, financial institutions, airlines, healthcare and hospitals just to name a few. One can only imagine the devastation in the life’s of people whose identity is stolen and all that once belonged to them is no longer with them or it impacts the patients who needs serious medical attention and was unable to receive it as the healthcare provider was unable to operate. Thrills of cyber-attacks have also caught the attention of Hollywood.

Unlike the natural realm where countries have boundaries the cyber space has none, thus making it extremely challenging for law enforcement and governments. Citizens are used to receiving safety in the land as the government provides law and order protection. The reality is that any computer (or network of computer) that is connected to Cyber Space has to have its own cyber security measures. The quote from Sun Tzu’s art of war:

“The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected”

CEOs of companies understand risk and those that understood that cybersecurity is crucial to survival have appointed CISO & Cyber Security divisions that can help them protect the company by rolling out a strategy to survive in Cyber Space. On the other hand there are organizations that are not in a position (due to financial limitation/lack of availability of talent or unable to understand the risk of cyber threats) to have a dedicated CISO or Cyber Security division.  Lastly there are organizations that have taken a middle ground and delegated the Cyber Security function to another non cyber security leader and hoping that the issue is dealt with. The quote from Sun Tzu’s art of war:

“The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer: let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat: —let such a one be dismissed!”

This challenge is now thrust upon leaders of businesses as they need to have a Cyber Security division lead by a newly created role CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) to lead them into battle i.e. defend them so that they can survive in cyber space.  If you do not have a CISO fret now as help is available and do not be afraid to reach out – before it is too late. Just like putting anyone in the pilot seat to fly a plane is a recipe for disaster so is giving anyone the title of the CISO.

In closing, customer dependency on digital technology is here to stay and CISOs are the cyber generals of your organizations and they can help you defend your business. To adopt Sun Tzu in cyber context would read “organizations that do not take Cyber health as vital importance and act will be susceptible and suffer ruin”