How can organisational leaders be persuaded to become more actively involved in promoting cybersecurity?
“We have to prepare leaders by letting them go through stressful exercises.”
Professor Marco Gercke, the founder of the CyberCrime Research Institute, talks to Jeremy Swinfen Green about organisational leaders can learn how to respond appropriately to cyber-attacks.
Organisational leaders and top management are sometimes rather slow to engage with cybersecurity. Why do you think that is and how can they be persuaded to become more actively involved in promoting cybersecurity?
Well, let me start by fundamentally disagreeing. One of the main focus areas of our work is working with top management in Fortune 500 companies, so the top management and board level, and ministers of government for different governments, very often with the United Nations. And when we’re discussing with ministers or with the CEO of a large enterprise, I haven’t really met anybody who was not involved in this topic and who was not interested in how they need to respond.
What we have to do is we have to show them that, unlike technical standards that are telling a system administrator how to configure a system, there isn’t really much standardisation when it comes to risk management decision making. So what we have to do is we have to prepare them by letting them go through real exercises. This is something we’re doing with them. So we’re cooling the room, cooling down the temperature so that the stress level increases when the situation gets more dramatic, and then we’re going to show them a couple of cyber attacks against their company– sometimes it’s only a threatening video, it can be email coming in– and they have to take management decisions.
And what you will find out is that sometimes they feel uncertain how to respond. They know exactly what happens when something burns down or a plane crashes and how they respond to it, or when there is difficulty in the supply line. However, when it comes to a cyber attack they sometimes lack this knowledge of how long is it going to take, how to quantify it, and how do I respond appropriately?