A CISO’s Guide to Communicating Cybersecurity to The Board of Directors

You look in the mirror as you button up your shirt. Today’s your presentation to the board and you need to make sure that when you leave that room the men and women around the table understand the cybersecurity strategy of the company. As Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), you’ve spent weeks mapping out this strategy, but the people in the room can make or break the plan with their funding and support.  

You’re not walking in unprepared, though. You’ve laid the groundwork. You know how to articulate your points to the board, and you know they’re going to listen. 

In this blog post, we outline the top 5 best practices for communicating cybersecurity to your board.  

1. Know Your Audience

As a CISO, the most important step when presenting to the board is to remember who you’re talking to. All other strategies hinge on recognizing that this is the board of the company, and it has certain considerations and responsibilities, such as duty of care and loyalty. It helps to know a bit about each member, but you can assume they are intelligent, reasonable people who are interested in any well-developed plan to help the company. 

2. Present Your Strategy, not Your Tactics

The board isn’t concerned with the minutia of a CISO’s day-to-day plans nor with every tactic used to make the company networks more secure. The board members are interested in your overarching plan and how it links to the company’s objectives and goals.  

Demonstrate how your strategy will achieve or support one of the major aims of the organization, such as the company’s mission statement or business strategy, and you’ll have the board’s attention—and funding. 

3. Balance Between Focuses and Holistic Topics

The board’s focus is, and always will be, strategy. Board members think with a broad, holistic perspective that affects the entire company now and into the future. It’s acceptable to target one specific issue in your presentation; however, you need to make sure you connect this one issue to the company’s larger risk management plan. As CISO, your work is just a part of the board’s concerns regarding cybersecurity.  

You must link any focused element into the larger strategy, and always tie it back to the broad concerns and goals of the company. 

4. Plan and Believe Your Message

You only have a few short minutes in front of the board. Whatever your goal is as CISO, be it asking for more money or even just providing an overview update, you must plan what your message is—and you need to believe in it.  

Ask yourself what your goal is for this presentation, and ensure every word supports that goal. Prepare for questions; think through the likely follow-up questions you’ll receive (while keeping in mind who will be asking these questions and the broad concerns of focus).  

Finally, you must believe in your message or no one else around that table will. These people have trained themselves to recognize a lack of commitment. Walk in with confidence. 

5. Prepare Clean and Simple Materials

Just as you don’t have a lot of time to present, your materials need to be focused, clear, and helpful. You don’t want the board distracted by complicated support materials instead of focusing on your request. All visual aids, including slides and handouts, should be clear and easy to read.  

A presentation to the board is important, but it’s only one part of the discussion. As a CISO, the best way to make your impression is to ensure every board member knows this is an ongoing conversation. You should follow up with one-on-ones and regular updates regarding your strategy and its support of the company’s goals. 

By following these best practices, Board Members will come to understand the implications of a strong cybersecurity program. They not only begin to recognize the value of security but depend on their Security Leaders and CISO’s expertise for overall business advancement.

Discover all you need to get the “Yes” you want from your Board of Directors. Download The 2023 Ultimate Cybersecurity Playbook.

Additional Resources:

Case Study: Building A Proactive Security Program From Start To Finish

Communicating Cybersecurity in Uncertain Times eBook  

Your End-to-End Cybersecurity Roadmap  

Our Partners

Penetration Testing Whitepaper

Threat Intelligence

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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