The security landscape encompasses a wide range of areas and considerations, all of which are critical for safeguarding organizations, individuals, and assets. The key components of the security landscape include information security, cybersecurity, physical security, network security, application security, cloud security, and compliance and regulatory security. In many respects, these components are interrelated and capable of functioning as an individual entity or a part of the unified structure to augment organizational resilience. However, like everything else, every component in this framework has risks and inherent vulnerabilities. It is necessary to inculcate a security-oriented culture which aligns with the organization’s strategic objectives to secure the entire spectrum of operations, from security breaches to unwarranted situations. In this, security professionals play a critical and leading role in ensuring security considerations are integrated into the overall business strategy to achieve desired effects. 

To enhance the strategic influence of security professionals within organizations, focus on fostering collaboration and proactive engagement with other departments, emphasizing the business impact of security measures, and engaging in continuous communication to build awareness and support for organizational-specific security initiatives. These initiatives are designed to align security goals with overall organizational objectives in an integral manner to achieve business success and resilience. 

As organizations grow and expand, they create several functional entities capable of operating independently. Often, the mindset of being independent creates several challenges which may impede the efforts of security professionals in building strategic influence within the organization. It is essential to understand the challenges commonly found in organizational culture. These challenges may include: 

Communication gap: The communication gap between security professionals and other stakeholders often stems from technical jargon and complex terminology. Security professionals may communicate in a language rich in cybersecurity specifics, which can be challenging for non-technical stakeholders to understand. This gap hinders effective collaboration and the ability to convey the business implications of security measures. Similarly, security professionals may focus on technical details and threats without clearly linking them to organizational goals. This lack of alignment with the overall organizational strategy can make it difficult for other stakeholders to perceive the significance of security initiatives. It is vital to understand the knowledge gap and use simplified methodology to convey the message while sufficiently highlighting the positive outcomes of security measures. The positive framing can create a perception security is an enabler of business objectives rather than a hindrance. Addressing the communication gap ensures stakeholders’ engagement, the impact of security decisions, and a shared understanding of the organization’s security posture and goals.

Resource constraints: Limited budget and resources such as personnel, technology, and infrastructure might hinder the implementation of comprehensive security measures. In the context of security professionals, these constraints can impede their efforts to effectively address and mitigate cybersecurity risks. Overcoming these constraints involves strategic planning, prioritization of critical areas, and effective communication to justify allocating resources to address the most pressing security challenges. 

Resistance to change: Organizations may resist adopting new security measures, especially if it disrupts established workflows. To overcome resistance to change, security professionals should communicate transparently, addressing concerns and emphasizing the positive outcomes of the proposed changes. It is also essential to involve key stakeholders early in the process, providing training and support and showcasing the long-term benefits which can help build acceptance and mitigate resistance within the organization. 

Lack of awareness: Many stakeholders might need to fully grasp the evolving threat landscape or more knowledge or understanding of cybersecurity risks, best practices, and the importance of security measures. Educating non-technical stakeholders and others about the significance of security and the potential consequence of neglect is essential. 

Silos within departments: Silos within an organization refers to isolated or compartmentalized units or departments which operate independently, with limited communication and collaboration between the teams. When silos exist, information and resources may not flow freely across different parts of the organization, hindering overall efficiency, effectiveness, and collaboration. Breaking down these silos and fostering cross-functional cooperation involves fostering a culture of collaboration and open communication across departments. Establishing cross-functional teams, encouraging knowledge sharing, and aligning goals across the organization can help integrate security measures more effectively and enhance the overall resilience of the organization against security threats. 

Mismatched priorities: Mismatched priorities occur when the goals and priorities of different departments or individuals within an organization are not aligned, leading to potential conflicts, inconsistencies, or inefficiencies. In security, this misalignment can manifest in several ways, including security vs. operational efficiency, short-term vs. long-term goals, compliance vs. innovation, and budget allocation. Misalignment between security goals and overall business objectives can diminish the perceived value of security initiatives. As a part of the awareness campaign, security professionals need to demonstrate how security supports organizational goals is essential. 

The strategic influence of security professionals is closely tied to business continuity and organizational resilience as they strive to accomplish the organization’s business goals, objectives, and processes. This understanding will enable security professionals to align security initiatives with the overall strategic direction for the organizational resilience and business continuity. Some of the vital security initiatives that align with organizational resilience are as follows:

Risk mitigation initiative: Security measures implemented by professionals directly contribute to identifying and mitigating risks. By addressing vulnerabilities and potential threats, they enhance the organization’s overall resilience, minimizing disruptions’ impact on business operations. 

Incident response planning initiative: Security professionals play a pivotal role in developing and implementing robust incident response plans. Their strategic influence ensures organizations are well-prepared to handle security incidents promptly, minimizing downtime and safeguarding critical business functions. 

Data protection initiative: Protecting sensitive data is integral to security and business continuity. Security professionals contribute by implementing measures to secure data, ensuring its availability and integrity during normal operations and times of crisis. 

Technology resilience initiative: Organizations heavily rely on technology and security professionals to ensure the resilience of digital infrastructure. The resilience initiatives include safeguarding against cyber threats and ensuring the availability of essential systems, aligning with business continuity objectives.

Crisis communication initiative: Security professionals often play a role in crafting and executing crisis communication plans. Clear and timely communication during security incidents maintains stakeholder trust and minimizes reputational damage, vital aspects of business continuity. 

Regulatory compliance initiative: Compliance with security standards and regulations mitigates legal risks and enhances the organization’s resilience. Security professionals ensure the organization meets industry-specific requirements, fostering a secure and resilient operational environment. 

Cross-functional collaboration initiative: The collaboration facilitated by security professionals across departments strengthens organizational resilience. By breaking down silos and fostering a culture of shared responsibility, they contribute to a more resilient and adaptable organizational structure. 

In conclusion, the relevance of security professionals extends beyond traditional notions of safeguarding data; it encompasses technology resilience, crisis communication, and compliance adherence. As strategic contributors, security professionals often contribute to continuous efforts to stay ahead of evolving threats to achieve the organization’s long-term success, with a focus on measurable outcomes and key performance indicators. Lastly, building a solid relationship with all stakeholders enables security professionals to establish trust across the organization. Such an approach facilitates the enhancement of the strategic influence within organizations while ensuring critical security considerations are integrated into the overall business strategy to achieve organizational resilience.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Suminda Jayasundera

Suminda Jayasundera, a retired military officer with the rank of lieutenant colonel, has a distinguished career which includes significant appointments, including a tour of duty in the United Nations. Post-retirement, he transitioned to the corporate sector, excelling in crisis management, global security management, and business continuity management. A holder of a master’s degree in defense management, Jayasundera is a graduate of the Army Command & General Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth, Kan. He furthered his education at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, specializing in emergency management and business continuity, and received training from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Jayasundera possesses certifications in business continuity management, cybersecurity, and risk and compliance management, showcasing his commitment to professional development and expertise in these critical areas.

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