There are few things that keep non-executive Board Directors awake at night these days more than the worry they will someday wake up to read news headlines about a cyber-security breach of their company's critical business intelligence, intellectual property and customer data.
As many Boards invest time to consider effective risk management through multiple lenses, there is, undoubtedly, a calling for Directors to raise the question of the preparedness, security and response capabilities of the enterprise in the event such corporate systems are hacked.
For all the benefits and conveniences in living in our technology-rich times, the threat of cyber crime - be it committed by foreign interests, terrorists, competitors or rogue technology bandits - is a real one faced by most global companies and smaller ones, too.
Amid reports that some very large companies have had their systems and data compromised and a regulatory environment that demands the disclosure by publicly owned companies of such adverse events comes the responsibility for organisations and non-executive Board Directors to get out ahead of this issue lest they wake up one morning to a crisis they are ill-prepared to face.
One of the duties of Board stewardship requires Directors to probe the enterprise's real cyber-risk exposure and its preparedness to deal with such a potentially cataclysmic event. Even the most cursory of assessments will reveal myriad issues and challenges relating to cyber-security, from technology and crisis management issues to leadership communications, shareholder relations, marketing and regulatory reporting.
As with so many other business challenges, a company's ability to avoid or reduce the impacts of a significant threat like cyber-crime directly relates to the seriousness and depth to which its management and oversight authorities addressed the issue before it became a crisis.
In the case of cyber-security and the non-executive Board Director's stewardship of governance oversight, the old adage really rings true: a stitch in time saves nine.
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