Achieving Proactive Cybersecurity: A Guide for Executives

In an era where cyber threats are evolving at an unprecedented pace, achieving cybersecurity readiness has become a top priority. Shockingly, only 37% of businesses report feeling “confident” that their company was properly secured against a cyber-attack. Moving beyond traditional reactive approaches, a proactive cybersecurity strategy is now essential to safeguarding businesses against cyber risks.  

This blog post outlines a comprehensive approach to proactive cybersecurity, including key performance indicators (KPIs), gap assessments, execution strategies, education, and the pivotal role of buy-in from executives. 

Key Takeaways

  • Proactive cybersecurity aligns security with overall organizational goals and values. It’s a dynamic strategy that anticipates and prevents threats. 
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Gap Assessments are vital tools for identifying vulnerabilities, measuring progress, and ensuring the organization remains adaptable and resilient. 
  • Executives’ support is crucial. Demonstrating the business impact, legal risks, and brand reputation damage of breaches fosters their buy-in for proactive cybersecurity initiatives. 
  • Embrace cultural change as a part of the journey. Communicate the necessity of adapting workflows, policies, and daily operations to establish a new cybersecurity “normal.” 
  • Develop an effective reporting strategy to share cybersecurity progress across all organizational levels. Informed decision-making thrives on seamless information flow. 
  • Proactive cybersecurity is a collective effort. Engage employees, managers, and department heads to instill a sense of ownership and responsibility. 
  • Leverage external expertise through Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs). Their contributions amplify proactive strategies, enhancing efficiency and innovation. 
  • Proactive cybersecurity is more than a goal—it’s an essential mindset for organizational resilience. Executives play a vital role in driving and sustaining this transformation. 

Defining Proactive Cybersecurity for Businesses 

Proactive cybersecurity entails anticipating potential cyber threats and implementing preventive measures to mitigate risks before they escalate into breaches. For businesses, this means consistently staying ahead of malicious actors, securing sensitive data, maintaining customer trust, and safeguarding operations. Unfortunately, 89% of CEOs are still treating security strategy as just an IT function. 

The reality is that proactive cybersecurity isn’t just a technical practice; it’s a fundamental business strategy that aligns security with overall organizational goals.  

Take a deep dive into what true proactive cybersecurity means today.  

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Gap Assessment: Laying the Foundation 

In the realm of proactive cybersecurity, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Gap Assessments stand as pillars of strategic planning for executives. But it can also be a major challenge for leaders. A recent study by McKinsey found that 87% of security leaders report needing better ways to measure the success of their security measures.  

KPIs provide a meticulously crafted framework that not only measures and evaluates an organization’s cybersecurity stance but also propels it toward enhancement. These pivotal stages pave the way for: 

  • Identifying Crucial Improvement Areas: The journey begins by pinpointing the core areas that demand fortification. This crucial step is initiated through a comprehensive gap assessment, meticulously uncovering vulnerabilities, outdated software, inadequacies in employee training, and more. 
  • Conceiving Significance through KPIs: KPIs translate cybersecurity progress into tangible metrics. Your organization’s ascent is quantified through KPIs that mirror advancements, encompassing aspects such as quicker incident response times, heightened employee awareness, elevated compliance rates, and mitigated vulnerabilities. 
  • Communicating to the Board: The board, as a driving force, receives insights through regular KPI measurements and reports. These reports, concise yet impactful, unveil the outcomes of proactive cybersecurity endeavours. Such transparency fosters not only confidence but also invaluable support from stakeholders. 

By fashioning precise benchmarks and delving into the nuances of gaps, organizations amplify their cybersecurity barricades, curbing potential hazards, and nurturing a robust security stance that resonates throughout the business. 

Execution and Education: Forging a Path of Awareness and Collaboration 

The importance of obtaining team buy-in from all levels cannot be overstated. Rallying the entire organization around cybersecurity practices cultivates a united front against evolving threats and solidifies the foundation of a secure future. But how do you do it?  

  • Obtain Executive Buy-In: Garner support from executives by demonstrating the potential business impact of proactive cybersecurity. Outline the financial risks of breaches, potential legal consequences, and the long-term damage to brand reputation. 
  • Embrace Cultural Change: Acknowledge that cultural transformation is a part of the journey. Secure buy-in by clearly communicating that adopting proactive practices may lead to changes in workflows, policies, and day-to-day operations. This cultural shift is essential to define the “new normal” of cybersecurity. 
  • Effective Reporting Strategies: Develop a streamlined reporting mechanism that communicates cybersecurity progress to all levels of the organization. This ensures that the information flows seamlessly up and down the hierarchy, facilitating informed decision-making. 
  • Shared Accountability: Recognize that proactive cybersecurity is a collective effort. Spread accountability beyond the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). Engage employees, managers, and department heads in security practices, fostering a culture of ownership. 

Discover essential insights on effectively communicating cybersecurity to the board here.  

Elevating Internal Operations through Strategic Outsourcing 

Strategically leveraging external expertise is a cornerstone of proactive cybersecurity excellence. Identifying avenues where outsourcing cybersecurity services can amplify your proactive strategy, with Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) is a pivotal skill that empowers strategic leaders to amplify efficiency, bolster innovation, and drive sustained growth.  

Building A Proactive Security Program from Start to Finish with Difenda. Read the full case study here.  

Proactive cybersecurity is a multifaceted endeavour that requires a holistic approach, active participation, and unwavering commitment from executives and the entire organization. Executives play a pivotal role in initiating and sustaining this transformation.  

In this dynamic landscape, proactive cybersecurity isn’t just a goal—it’s the very essence of a resilient and secure organization. 

Building the business case for cybersecurity has never been this easy.

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Ken Perkins

Biography coming soon.

Megan Miller

Megan Miller’s energy and passion for learning flow into all aspects of her work. As the Growth Manager, North America, she brings a background in sciences which she has transitioned to the tech sector in her role at Difenda.

With a Bachelors of Science in Geology, Megan is a lifelong learner who is voracious about learning anything she can get her hands on about cybersecurity. Her positive energy has built a sales strategy with a focus on expanding in the United States while nurturing the Canadian presence. She is responsible for recruiting and training the sales team. Together with the company’s leadership, she creates the sales process and the company’s product strategy in order to better serve the customer base. This ensures that our customers have a highly trained and highly motivated team to help them every step of the way, Megan has completed Microsoft SC-900 training and working towards mastering Microsoft.

Whether at work or play, Megan is fully committed. She took her love of hockey all the way to the semi-professional level as a competitive hockey player. Megan loves all things sports including water skiing, scuba diving, cycling, and snowboarding. She also enjoys time with family and reading about alternative energy, innovation, and cybersecurity.

Natasha Phanor

As the Microsoft Partner Manager at Difenda, Natasha Phanor is responsible for driving growth within our Microsoft Partnership. With six years in the industry, she offers a fresh, energetic approach, and the ability to focus on our customer’s needs throughout the entire process. Natasha has the innate ability to foresee customer needs and solve problems before they arise, which creates a smooth road for each customer she encounters.

As the recipient of the Outstanding Services Partner of the Year Award in 2018, it is clear that Natasha responds quickly to customer needs, creates a platform for understanding a customer’s business requirements, and walks them through the process to ensure their complete satisfaction.

In her spare time, Natasha is as energetic and passionate as she is on the job. A self-proclaimed foodie-extraordinaire, she enjoys dinner parties, traveling, downhill skiing, hiking, biking, and reading. Natasha has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, specializing in Dance, from Ryerson University.

Lisa Templeton

Lisa Templeton is the perfect combination of human empathy and technological prowess. In her role as People Services Manager, she takes care of our team members to support them in their daily work, as well as on their personal life paths. Happy employees make for happy customers, and Lisa excels in giving our employees the tools they need for success in order to become the best possible versions of themselves. Along with employee formation, she shines in the service delivery support domain to continuously improve the process. Her 24 years of experience in IT Operations and Service Management help her create quality and efficiency at Difenda.

Having attended the Information Systems Management certificate program at Ryerson University, and with various other certifications to her credit, Lisa is perceptive and innovative when it comes to information technology, but also sensitive to the needs of her human constituents. Responsible for achieving the first privately owned company HDI Support Center certification in Canada, she has also designed and implemented Service Management excellence programs and 24×7 IT Operations departments for multiple IT organizations, and has created corporate rewards and recognition programs to keep her employees engaged and motivated.

On the personal side, Lisa passionately supports the cause of breast cancer research, having lost her mother to the disease. She reads voraciously in her spare time, and enjoys the art of home renovation. The summer months also bring time on her boat and exploring new hiking trails.

Miranda McCurdy

Miranda McCurdy uses her myriad super powers in all aspects of her job and personal life. As the Marketing Director at Difenda, Miranda McCurdy brings over a decade of experience to the table, which includes expertise in all facets of operations, brand management, and content marketing, as well as a multitude of successful strategies for the ever-expanding digital world. She is an expert at simplifying the message the company is trying to send, filling in gaps in the information, and strengthening the content in order to create compelling narratives that strengthen the brand and developing programs that bring teams together.

With several Addy Awards issued by the American Advertising Federation Cleveland to her credit, and her never say die attitude, Miranda understands both the broader picture and the minute details that are needed to successfully market a product. With her abilities to harness both the talent needed to spread the message, as well as to create the message itself, she is an integral cog in the company’s ability to communicate with customers and other stakeholders.

When she is not building a brand, she shares her ability to fill the gaps in her community by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, the Special Olympics, and the Charleston Food Bank. In her spare time, Miranda spends time with her family, enjoys fitness and health, paddle boarding, reading, and arts and crafts.

Juliana Zaremba

Connections are the name of the game for Juliana Zaremba. As Strategic Partnerships Director, she is responsible for Difenda’s channel partnerships and the development and ownership of the channel partner program. She is also responsible for the global Microsoft Partnership, including the creation of strategic plans with MSFT contacts that will facilitate the continued growth of the business and establish certification and training protocols in all security technologies. Her role is multifaceted, as she acquires partners, manages relationships with them, and develops strategies that will provide cutting edge security solutions to our customer base. Another integral aspect of her job is to facilitate growth.

With a Bachelor’s in Math from the University of Waterloo and 14 years of experience from her previous roles at Herjavec Group and CDW, her cutting edge focus and ability to develop long-lasting relationships and strategies provides world class security solutions to our customer base.

Juliana thrives on connections outside of work as well. She is a philanthropist and contributor with Women4Change based in Hamilton. This group of local women is passionate about supporting local causes, and she focuses her efforts around Women in STEM. She is also a member of Club Italia in Niagara Falls and supports their youth events throughout the year.

When not managing the Microsoft Global partnership, Juliana enjoys reading, often reading several books at once. Juliana enjoys exploring the Niagara Escarpment with her family, as well as sharing meals and experiences with her extended family. Juliana’s competitive nature has her always trying new things, like Whoop band challenges and Peloton.

Jeffry Jacob

Biography Coming Soon