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Cyber Risk Management

Informing Cyber Risk Management Strategy at the Board Level


Cybersecurity is no longer just an IT issue but a business risk that can impact an organization's reputation, financial health, and legal compliance. Cybersecurity risks are business risks, and CISOs must communicate the potential impact of cyber threats when reporting cybersecurity to the Board

By integrating cyber and business risks, CISOs and executive leadership can develop KPIs and cyber risk management strategies to guide the business with cyber at its core. Business-side leaders can only make effective decisions if they consider the impact of cyber, and CISOs can only grow the cyber program if they understand the organization's business objectives. Communication from both sides is essential for success.

Communication also ensures accountability. Reporting to upper management and the Board provides transparency that holds the CISO accountable for the organization's cyber progress. Cybersecurity is resource-intensive, and CISOs must report on the budget required to maintain the organization's cybersecurity posture.

CISOs must report on cybersecurity and risk to the Board, and how they approach reporting is also critical. Security leaders must balance delivering technical insights with actionable decisions and context. 

Cybersecurity Board reports should convey the impact on business operations and finances. These reports are not the time to report on numbers, but they emphasize cybersecurity's criticality in driving investment toward security operations and developing cyber risk management strategies with business leaders. Risk treatment and risk remediation are vital areas that CISOs must report on.

Risk Treatment in Cyber

Risk treatment in cybersecurity refers to identifying, evaluating, and implementing strategies to address an organization's cybersecurity risks. It is a crucial aspect of cyber risk management as it enables organizations to mitigate or reduce the impact of cybersecurity threats and protect their critical assets. Reporting on risk treatment to leadership will allow security teams to manage and reduce security risk with support from business-side leaders. 

The risk treatment process typically involves the following steps:

Risk Identification: This step involves identifying potential threats, vulnerabilities, and assets that are at risk. Security teams can achieve risk identification through vulnerability scans, penetration tests, and cybersecurity risk assessments.

Risk Assessment: The next step is to assess the potential impact of identified risks, such as the likelihood of a successful attack and the possible consequences.

Risk Mitigation: Based on the risk assessment, organizations can develop a risk mitigation strategy that involves selecting and implementing appropriate controls, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and encryption.

Risk Monitoring: Risk treatment is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and updating to ensure the organization's cybersecurity posture remains effective. Continuous control automation takes monitoring a step further by identifying risk at the security control level using AI to manage compliance in real time. 

Risk Communication: Risk communication is an essential component of risk treatment. Organizations must communicate the risks and associated mitigation strategies to senior management, employees, and partners.

Effective risk treatment in cybersecurity requires a holistic approach that considers technical, organizational, and human factors. It also requires a clear understanding of the organization's risk appetite and the potential impact of cyber threats. By implementing effective risk treatment strategies, organizations can reduce the likelihood and impact of cyber incidents and protect their critical assets.

Strategies for Cyber Risk Remediation 

Risk remediation builds on the many ways a security team will remediate and manage risk. An organized approach to remediation will help security practitioners address each risk based on severity and impact. As mentioned earlier, a clear understanding of risk appetite and the result of cyber threats is crucial in deciding how to handle cyber risks. Security teams can leverage industry models like NIST 800-30 and FAIR to evaluate the financial impact of each identified cyber risk. 

When reporting to the Board, CISOs should include top cyber risks that may impact the organization and its industry to provide context around the threat landscape. CISOs can do this with easy-to-understand visualizations available through the CyberStrong Executive Dashboard. The dashboard will display each threat's estimated financial impact depending on the cyber risk quantification model your team selects. 

After the security team has identified all adverse risks, they must decide what to do with the risk. There are four options for remediation; Avoid, Transfer, Mitigate, or Accept. 

Risk Avoidance: Security teams may identify risks the organization should avoid altogether. This step includes implementing measures to eliminate the risk entirely. 

Risk Mitigation: Based on the identified and assessed risks, the organization can determine the appropriate measures to mitigate or reduce them. This step may include implementing technical controls and developing risk management policies and procedures.

Risk Transfer: Organizations can also transfer some risk to third parties, such as insurance providers, through cybersecurity insurance policies.

Risk Acceptance: The organization can accept some risks if the cost of mitigating them is too high or the security team deems the risk low enough to be acceptable.

As mentioned earlier, CISOs must report on the budget needed. Yet, it’s equally important to discuss the Return on Security Investment (RoSI) to see how security initiatives have reduced potential threats and added value to the organization. With a regular and tracked approach to risk remediation and treatment - CISOs can easily track threats, financial impact, and how implemented measures have reduced threats.

Cyber Risk Management Strategies

Risk treatment and remediation are vital in extending the life of your security operations and ensuring business continuity and resilience. Businesses can only succeed with an organized approach to cyber risk management, and how a security team manages cyber risk determines business success. Effective cyber risk management, of course, can only be done with the support of executive leadership and adequate funding. 

CISOs must get into the practice of collaborating with business-side leaders for strategic cyber decision-making. By doing so, business leaders will have a greater understanding of cyber and how it supports the business—employing measures for risk treatment and remediation rounds out a cyber risk management program. 

Risk identification and assessment are the first steps to management. Next is risk quantification to add further context to security risks and to determine how significant the organization’s risk appetite is.  

Risk treatment and remediation are the logical next steps for cyber risk management. What will you do with the identified risk? What can we do to address these vulnerabilities and fortify cyber defenses? By practicing these cyber risk management steps, CISOs can track and report on progress to further cement the importance of cybersecurity related to the business. 

CyberSaint supports each step of cyber risk management with automation and actionable insights. CyberStrong can support continuous compliance with the NIST CSF and other risk management frameworks to fortify your security posture. Learn more about CyberSaint’s unique approach to cyber risk management in a demo

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