C-level bosses in SEAsia glaze eyes on cybersecurity talk

One in very four business executives in Southeast Asia (SEA) prefers not to flag lack of understanding when discussing cybersecurity issues, and one in every 10 C-level managers have never heard of threats such as Botnet, APT and Zero-Day exploit according to a Kaspersky study.

Kaspersky also found that the same proportion appeared to be unfamiliar with cyber security concepts like DevSecOps, ZeroTrust, SOC and Pentesting.

Kaspersky conducted their 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 Southeast Asia 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 don’t believe the IT peers will be able to explain it in a clear way. 

About two in every 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 every 10 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 every 10 top managers surveyed 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,” said 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,” said Zhuykov. “In addition to communicating clear metrics to stakeholders, this approach requires offering solutions instead of problems”.

Chris Connell, Kaspersky managing director for the Asia-Pacific region, noted that 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,” said Connell. “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 that 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.