Maintaining firewalls, protecting servers and filtering malicious emails rarely make it onto the board agenda: these issues tend to be delegated to the company’s IT security experts.

But in the face of continuous and increasingly complex cyber attacks, boards of directors are under growing pressure to pay closer attention to cyber security.

Cyber attacks are becoming ever more sophisticated, as well as more frequent. Cloud computing, the proliferation of ‘big data’ and the growing use of mobile devices, tablets and social media are creating new and significant security challenges.

The impact can be far-reaching. Recent high profile incidents show that cyber attacks can not only strike a company’s financial performance, but also inflict unquantifiable reputational damage.

No-one is immune: large and small companies, governments and individuals are all at risk. 

As a result, boards are being called upon to address cyber risk alongside other risks facing the business. Directors are taking steps to increase their awareness and understanding of cyber security, and are starting to take a strategic view of its potential impact on business performance.

This paper looks at cyber security’s elevation to the boardroom. It considers the nature of the threat faced by business and offers practical advice on what board directors need to know.

The traditional approach to cyber security, driven by the chief technology officer and the chief information security officer, is only part of the solution – robust cyber security also requires the direct attention of the board of directors.

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Cyber security: what boards need to know

Clare Glackin

Clare Glackin heads the Industrial Practice of Odgers Berndtson in the United Kingdom. Her focus is on Board level executive and non-executive appointments in general, commercial and operational ma...

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