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Cybersecurity Program Management

Why Glass-Box Reporting Beats Black-Box Reporting in the Boardroom


In the wake of the Equifax and Marriott breaches, it is no secret that cybersecurity has made its way into the Boardroom. While many executives are experienced in managing myriad business risks - operational, strategic, financial - cybersecurity and digital risks are a new domain that can oftentimes lose Boards of Directors and CEOs. The challenge facing information security leaders then is to ensure that their cybersecurity program is not only able to manage and mitigate enterprise risks but they must do so in a way that is understandable when reporting to the Board and executive management. As cybersecurity programs mature, rolling cyber risk management intro the greater business strategy and risk management program is critical to business success in the digital age.

Many cyber risk quantification solutions available today are by all intents and purposes black-box solutions that ingest cyber risk data and return metrics specific to the solution with little to no explanation as to where those metrics came from. Today, when CEOs and Boards are requiring more and more insight into enterprise-wide cybersecurity posture and asking for more information on their security return on investment, these black-box solutions are no longer sufficient and will leave CISOs struggling to explain and justify their program. Enter the glass-box risk quantification solutions.

“Glass-box” versus “black-box”

Glass-box in the context of technology solutions is relatively new - yet it is the answer to the slew of black-box solutions hitting the market today. Where black-box solutions rely on proprietary methodologies and unvetted practices to deliver risk metrics, glass-box solutions empower security leaders to employ industry-leading, gold-standard methodologies and frameworks that can be easily explained to both technical and business-side stakeholders.

Black-box solutions will fall short in the Boardroom

For many business-side discussions around cybersecurity, especially the initial conversations, information security leaders must contextualize enterprise-wide cybersecurity posture in the same way as their counterparts in other functions and illustrate how their program fits into the enterprise-wide risk tolerance and risk appetite statement. Where CFOs have balance sheets and critical finance ratios, CISOs cannot be left relying on a black-box solution that gives little to no justification as to how those metrics were reached. Black-box solutions effectively disempower security leaders by causing them to depend implicitly on the metrics generated by one solution over another. When a CEO or Board member wants to drill down on the metrics generated by a black-box solution, there is nowhere for the CISO to go given that they don’t know where that answer came from.

Take charge of executive management discussions with glass-box solutions

Where black-box solutions fall short, glass-box solutions shine. Platforms that employ leading frameworks as their foundation - for example, the CyberStrong platform built on the NIST Risk Management Framework - make facilitating the conversation around cybersecurity transparent and easy to explain. Not only do industry standard frameworks come with their own implicit level of trust, but the open-source nature of these frameworks also allows CISOs to dive deep when reporting cybersecurity to the Board and CEO.

Build relationships with executive management with glass-box solutions

Glass-box risk and compliance reporting also help build trust and facilitate buy-in from executive management. Where black-box solutions are difficult to explain, clear and transparent reporting and glass-box solutions support CISOs in explaining their program and progress to business-side stakeholders. As organizations begin to realize that security maturity moves beyond regulatory requirements, and focus on the unique threats and vulnerabilities to the organization, clear and transparent risk reporting is critical. Without clear and easily explained methodologies and frameworks, getting buy-in becomes an uphill battle that can leave the enterprise open to threats. Using glass-box risk and compliance solutions build trust and help business-side leaders integrate cyber risk into the overall organization’s risk profile.


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