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How to communicate the quality and effectiveness of your cybersecurity program 

Posted May 23, 2023  Joseph McKelvie, Security Strategist, GreyCastle Security 

For technology companies, effectively conveying complex technical concepts and procedures in a way that non-technical audiences can understand can be a daunting task. This requires a clear and concise communication strategy that considers the unique needs of the target audience.


Common Challenges Tech Companies May Face When Communicating their Cybersecurity Program 

Lack of Understanding or Interest From Potential Customers: Many customers may not fully understand the importance of cybersecurity or be unfamiliar with technical terms and concepts.

Difficulty in Differentiating the Company’s Cybersecurity Program From that of Competitors: With many companies offering similar services, it can be difficult for customers to understand how one company’s cybersecurity program is different or better than another. 

Difficulty in Demonstrating the Effectiveness of the Cybersecurity Program: Customers may be skeptical of a company’s cybersecurity program without evidence that it is effective in preventing data breaches or other security incidents.

Steps to overcome these challenges:

  1. Use Clear and Simple Language When Talking About How the Cybersecurity Program Uniquely Addresses Customer Concerns: Avoid using technical jargon and explain security concepts in a way that is easy for customers to understand. Be prepared to discuss how their cybersecurity challenges are addressed by your cybersecurity program. 
  2. Highlight Unique Aspects of the Cybersecurity Program: Emphasize any unique or innovative security controls or procedures that set the company’s cybersecurity program apart from competitors. 
  3.  Provide Evidence of the Cybersecurity Program’s Effectiveness: Use real-world examples, case studies, or third-party audits and certifications to demonstrate effectiveness.


Obtaining Certification or Attestation is a Common Way to Supply Evidence of Effectiveness and Quality of a Cybersecurity Program

Obtaining ISO 27001 certification or SOC 2 attestation to enhance and communicate the effectiveness of a company’s cybersecurity program can significantly affect all aspects of its business. Choosing the wrong standard may lead to missing customer and partner expectations as well as higher costs associated with maintaining unnecessarily complex security programs. Your approach to implementing and supporting a cybersecurity program can make or break you, as they say. When selecting a cybersecurity standard, it is important to consider challenges common to obtain a certification, such as: 

Defining the Management System: Developing and implementing a comprehensive information security management system (ISMS) that meets the requirements of ISO 27001 or SOC 2 can be a complex and time-consuming process. Over or under scoping can cause significant downstream impacts and is a critical success factor. 

Managing Resources: Implementing these standards effectively requires a significant investment in time, money, and personnel. It requires regular training, assessment, and potentially hiring of experts to implement the standard. If the scope and objectives of the program aren’t clear, these resources won’t be effectively used, adding time and cost to the implementation. 

Program Awareness: Ensuring that all employees and partners are aware of, and adhere to, the company’s security policies and procedures can be difficult, particularly as the workforce becomes more distributed and remote. Again, having clarity on scope, objectives and alignment with key resources helps mitigate this challenge. 

Maintaining Compliance: Maintaining ongoing compliance with the standards can be challenging, as it requires ongoing regular assessments, audits, and updates to security controls, training, and procedures. 

Take these steps to overcome these challenges:

  1. Establish the Scope of the Program: Clearly define the scope of the certification/attestation, including the systems and processes that will be included in the assessment. It isn’t uncommon to over or under-scope a program. Properly scoping a program before implementation will help ensure that the company is not overburdened with unnecessary controls and procedures. It will also help avoid having to rescope part way through the implementation. 
  2. Break the Process into Manageable Chunks: Dividing the certification process into smaller, more manageable steps can make the process less overwhelming and more effective. The use of project management tools and software can also help simplify the process, but the key is having clearly defined milestones that everyone is working toward.
  3. Ensure Clear Communication and Employee Training: Clear communication with all employees and partners about the importance of the certification process and the security policies and procedures is critical to success. Regular training sessions and assessments can help ensure ongoing awareness and adherence to the company’s security policies and procedures, and it can also highlight areas for improvement. Security is a two-way street and effective programs use feedback from partners and the workforce to keep current. 
  4. Continuously Monitor and Evaluate the Cybersecurity Program: Maintaining ongoing compliance requires regular internal assessments and evaluations of the cybersecurity program. This ensures the program remains effective and any necessary updates are made in a timely manner. It’s important to plan these in advance and clearly communicate the objectives and scope of the assessment so that all parties are prepared and understand the expected outcome. 

In Summary

Effective communication of a cybersecurity program is critical for tech companies to build trust with customers and differentiate themselves from competitors. To overcome the challenges of communicating technical concepts to non-technical audiences, tech companies should use clear and simple language, highlight unique aspects of their cybersecurity program, and provide evidence of its effectiveness. Obtaining certifications or attestations such as ISO 27001 or SOC 2 can further enhance the credibility of a company’s cybersecurity program but poses its own challenges. By establishing a clear scope, breaking down the process into manageable steps, ensuring clear communication and employee training, and continuously monitoring and evaluating the program, tech companies can effectively implement and maintain a cybersecurity program that meets the needs of both customers and the business. 


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