Making information security a priority within an organization isn’t easy. Security is usually seen as a specialized technical function within the organization and often isn’t aligned with organizational strategy or even day-to-day business tactics. Instead, information security teams are often siloed from the effects of their decisions and hyper-focused on detection, defense and mitigation. This is why companies’ security strategies often conflict with business operations. Does that new two-factor authentication system leave your sales team hanging out in the cold when they get locked out of your system in the middle of a demo? Too bad. The “S” in “IS” is for security, not sales.
Security professionals are seen as technical risk managers tasked with prevention instead of growth, compliance in place of strategy, and technical point solutions instead of culture change. As a result, security is seen as a cost center; at best, it’s a necessary expense that needs to be minimized. That leaves most security teams undervalued, underutilized and misaligned with stakeholder vision.
If you think your job as the CISO or CSO is to be the guardian of your organization’s data or infrastructure, think again – that is just the beginning.
Your job is to be the curator and custodian of the organization’s security story. Your security story is the sum of all the ways your company defends assets, meets compliance and market criteria, implementing the right technologies that keep these said valuable assets safe.
The foundation of a strong security story emerges when a business can answer the following questions:
- How much revenue has our security team helped drive to close? How has the security story increased upfront sales or market access, or helped to defend annual recurring revenue (ARR)?
- How have other teams in your ecosystem worked more efficiently and more effectively with fewer security defects at source?
- Which of our stakeholders know how our security story satisfies their specific requirements and criteria?
- Can you show how each and every tooling decision aligns to either market requirement, client specification, contract commitment or insurability criteria (or all four)?
A good security story is built with input from multiple internal departments, so it is relevant for all potential stakeholders. For example, let’s say the sales team would like to target customers in highly regulated verticals like healthcare or government. The company’s security story should provide insights into whether the company is ready to tackle those markets. If the security story isn’t able to demonstrate compliance with the relevant patient privacy regulations – well, then your security story tells your sales team they can’t break into healthcare.
The security story has a major impact on sales operations. A good security story breeds trust in the supply chain, opens up new market opportunities, shortens sales cycles, increases upstream and downstream assurance, and ensures that the sales team doesn’t get road blocked by concerns around how data and assets will be protected. A company could get by with a good operations story in the past – or a good marketing story, or even a good finance story – nobody today gets by without a good security story.
The security story is also important in the need to grow the information security function. When it comes time to ask for more budget, does your leader really understand what you will be using it for? Not unless you can show direct impact on the business. There are some great dashboards and logging tools out on the market that may be useful to the security team. However, if that investment doesn’t fit into the security story and have a strong tie-in to revenue generation, justification to stakeholders becomes more difficult.
Security is a strategy that enables market access, branding, reputation and, ultimately, revenue. Security leaders need to not get caught up in the day-to-day grind of their jobs and instead build a security story that clearly outlines your ethos, accomplishments, and path to support revenue creation. Creating a defensible security narrative has significant strategic and business development benefits and should be a priority for every business.