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Could CEO Be Considered the "Weakest Link" in Your Company's Cybersecurity "Chain"?

The weakest link in cybersecurity

In its report on The State of Email Security, Mimecast made a particular statement that requires some thinking exercise. 

The survey showed that almost 40% of responders agree that their organization’s CEO is the 'weak link' in their cybersecurity.

Let's find reasons which led the responders to such a conclusion by answering the following questions.

What Can Possibly Make CEO the Weakest Cybersecurity Link?

It is safe to say that there is always a certain degree of danger associated with doing business online. 

You always have to ensure the protection of your data and you run the risk of getting hacked. It is just how it goes. 

However, an average user – CEO included – still fails to recognize one thing.

Pulling off social engineering attacks is much easier than literally hacking through an organization's security. 

Hacking is pretty difficult and it does not make sense to target the most fortified area. It is just not worth the effort. Pretending to be a company executive and tricking someone into transferring money is substantially easier and has a much lower skill requirement. 

CEOs Are Perfect Targets for Social Engineering

First of all, CEOs are usually public figures. 

There is plenty of personal information available online. Hackers can do their homework and craft a sophisticated spear phishing attack without having to do too much research. 

Second, CEOs have all kinds of access. 

If there is sensitive data, then the CEO must be the one to know about it. Employees are also more likely to take an urgent request to, say, update a partner’s banking details from their CEO than middle management.

If you are trying to scam someone through faking influence, then you best pick a higher-up, right? It does not get higher than the CEO.

But neither of these things make the CEO the weakest link. The most desired target? Maybe.

What can make CEOs a threat to an organization's cybersecurity is an ignorant attitude. 

What Kind of CEO Behavior Undermines Security Practices?

Attitude defines how big of a security threat the CEO is to his or her organization. 

In no particular order, here are some prime examples of problematic CEO behavior. 

“Cybersecurity Is an IT Responsibility” 

A common misconception leads CEOs to believe that IT carries the entire burden of an organization’s security. 

While this is indeed mostly their work, security plays a major role in business in general. 

IT offers solutions, provides tools, and equips employees with the knowledge, but it is ultimately everyone’s personal responsibility to put that knowledge to good use and stay safe. 

“Businesses today are still thinking that security is IT-based. That’s where they fall short – IT is very good at what IT does, but IT doesn’t know business.” – Pamela Gupta, The Art of Email Security.

Like parents who teach their children to stay away from a hot iron. Obviously, they will always pay close attention to the child’s behavior when the iron is on, but if the kid decides to grab it when it’s hot – he will have to learn the hard way. 

Unfortunately, learning the hard way can cost companies a pretty penny. 

“Security Stands in the Way of Business” 

Where to begin with this one…

The thing is, it can be really difficult to truly appreciate the value of security. 

Here is why:

  1. Security is an investment and it can get expensive. 
  2. Security can introduce limitations and often requires additional steps to be performed daily. 
  3. Security works seamlessly.

Frequently, companies begin to question whether they need to spend this much money on security at all. After all, nothing happens, nobody is getting hacked. Perhaps we don’t need it?

When the company gets hacked, you will instantly regret not investing in security. 

It is as simple as that. When settling a data breach costs US businesses $7.9 million on average, any security solution suddenly doesn’t look like a big investment anymore. 

“Security Is for Everyone, but Not Me” 

This is ignorance at its finest. 

We have already talked about how CEOs are the most desired target. If anything, this means that CEOs need to be even more careful than the average employee. 

After all, shifting the blame to IT is unlikely will appease the board. 

What Is the ‘Right’ Mentality to Have?

If you are a CEO who is asking this question, then you are already on the right path. 

To make the organization a better – and a more secure – place for everyone, CEOs best get on board with these truths.

“We Are All in the Same Boat”

When the CEO believes that security is not just the IT problem, it instantly makes IT work much less of a living hell. 

Understanding this simple truth means IT won’t have to ‘push up’ cybersecurity initiatives against the resisting C-level anymore. 

You now are fighting the same fight. 

“Security Training Is for Everyone – CEO Included”

This one cannot be stressed enough. The single fact that the CEO takes the time out of his day to take part in corporate security training shows his support. It has a tremendous impact on the organization’s perception of cybersecurity as the CEO’s influence is arguably the biggest in the company. 

Once all employees start seeing that the CEO is on board, it will automatically become more valuable for them too. 

If anything, CEOs should be getting more security training than any other employee. 

How to Protect CEO Email Correspondence

Email by far remains a major business communication channel. It is used for both internal and external communication. 

Mimecast research also revealed that CEOs are actually more likely to mistreat sensitive data than an average employee. 

It can mean sending the file to the wrong recipient or failing to follow all security precautions, the list goes on. Part of the reason behind this is the fact that CEOs simply have access to more of that sensitive data.

Failing to control email often means higher risk of data being exposed too. 

Current email security solutions provide a certain degree of protection, but no one can really guarantee complete safety. 

Instead of trying to secure a failing channel, it is best to take your private data out of it and transfer using a secure communication channel that you have full control over. 

How StealthMail Secures Corporate Communication

StealthMail is a communication solution that allows you to establish a classified communication channel for your business. You can exchange messages internally and send external messages to your business partners. 

Utilizing patented Stealth Technology, StealthMail guarantees total security of all data sent. 

StealthMail is installed as an Outlook add-in and makes next to no difference in user experience in comparison with email while providing advanced data protection. 

No longer will you have to worry about your messages being altered, intercepted, or cloned. The data transferred using StealthMail is fully immune to email-based threats. 

StealthMail has also proven that security solutions don’t have to be difficult to use or stand in the way of business.To know more about how StealthMail can help secure your organization’s private data, download the StealthMail’s technical datasheet today.


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