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Basic cybersecurity terms unfamiliar to C-level executives in SEA
Wed, 22nd Feb 2023

Every fourth business executive in Southeast Asia prefers not to flag lack of understanding when discussing cybersecurity issues, a new report reveals. 

A recent Kaspersky study also reveals one in ten C-level managers have never heard of threats such as Botnet, APT and Zero-Day exploit. The same proportion appeared to be unfamiliar with cybersecurity concepts like DecSecOps, ZeroTrust, SOC and Pentesting.

According to a PwC study, while backing cybersecurity in every business decision has al-ready become the norm in every other company, more than half of executives lack confidence that their cyber spending is being allocated to the most significant risks their organisation is facing. Kaspersky conducted their own research to help IT and C-level find common ground and explore the root of their misunderstandings, where a total of 300 executives from the SEA region were surveyed.

The Kaspersky poll indicates that C-suite sometimes struggle to understand their IT security peers and are not always ready to show their confusion. Thus, 26% of non-IT executives here say they would not feel comfortable flagging that they don't understand something during a meeting with IT and IT security.

Although most of them hide their confusion because they prefer to clarify everything after the meeting or choose to figure everything out by themselves, more than half (55%) don't ask additional questions because they dont believe the IT peers will be able to explain it in a clear way. Almost two-in-five also feel embarrassed revealing they don't understand the topic and 42% don't want to look ignorant in front of their IT colleagues.

Also, even though all surveyed top-managers from SEA regularly discuss security related issues with IT security managers more than one-in-ten respondents have never heard of threats such as Zero-Day exploit (11%), Botnet (9%), and APT (9%). At the same time Spyware, Malware, Trojan and Phishing appeared to be more familiar for top-mangers.

More than one-in-ten top managers here admit they have never heard of cybersecurity terms like DecSecOps (10%), SOC (10%), Pentesting (10%), and ZeroTrust (6%).

"Non-IT top management do not have to be experts in complex cybersecurity terminology and concepts and IT security executives should keep this in mind when communicating with the board," says Sergey Zhuykov, Solution Architect at Kaspersky. 

"To establish efficient cooperation CISO should be able to focus C-level attention precisely on meaningful details and clearly explain what exactly the company is doing to minimise cybersecurity risks. In addition to communicating clear metrics to stakeholders, this approach requires offering solutions instead of problems."

On the other end of the communications spectrum, only 6% of IT security professionals in SEA admit facing difficulty in discussing aspects of their work to the C-level. 

"This means the majority of our technical workforce deem that their updates are understood by the decision makers," says Chris Connell, Managing Director for Asia Pacific at Kaspersky.

"To bridge this dangerous gap, security teams should also incorporate effective tools real life examples and use of reports and numbers to ensure that discussions are done effectively."

To ease the communication between IT security and business functions within the company, Kaspersky recommends the following:

IT security should be positioned as a driver for growth and innovation in the organisation. To achieve this the IT security team should move away from prohibitive tactics and rather explain how the business can achieve its goals while mitigating cybersecurity risks.

CISO should actively engage in operational activities and build relationships with the company's stakeholders. While fewer than 20% of CISOs have established partnerships with key executives in sales, finance, and marketing, it is hard for them to stay abreast of the needs of the business.

When communicating with the board, use arguments based on an overview of threats by experts, your companys attack status and best practices.

Explain the board what the main responsibilities of IT security team are. If possible, provide them with an opportunity to walk in a CISOs shoes to get insights on the most relevant IT security challenges.

Allocate cybersecurity investments in tools with proven efficacy and ROI. This means tools that lower the level of false positives, and reduce times of attack detection, the time spent per case and other metrics are important to any IT security team.