Questions every CEO should ask about cybersecurity

cyber security

The digital age has brought immense business opportunities but has also introduced a new and evolving threat landscape – cybersecurity. While cybersecurity was once viewed as an IT department responsibility, cyberattacks’ escalating frequency and complexity necessitate a broader perspective. CEOs, board members, and senior executives must actively engage alongside information security and IT professionals for a truly effective cybersecurity program.

This article outlines a series of critical questions CEOs should ask to assess their organization’s cybersecurity posture and guide the development of a robust risk management strategy. By proactively addressing these questions, CEOs can ensure their company is well-equipped to defend against cyber threats and minimize potential damage.

1. What internal and external threats do we face?

CEOs should commence their cybersecurity evaluation by scrutinizing the spectrum of internal and external threats confronting their organizations. Understanding the nature and sources of potential threats enables proactive measures to mitigate risks effectively.

2. What are my organization’s critical assets and information? Can I prioritize what’s most important to continued business operations?

An organization’s critical assets and information form the bedrock of its operations. CEOs must ascertain whether they can discern and prioritize these assets to ensure continuity of business operations. This prioritization aids in allocating resources judiciously to safeguard the most crucial components.

3. What information does my institution manage, and where is it stored? Who has access to it?

Central to cybersecurity is the management of sensitive information. CEOs must interrogate the whereabouts of critical data within their institutions and evaluate the efficacy of access controls. Understanding who has access to vital information is pivotal in preventing unauthorized breaches.

4. Does my organization have a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)? If not, who is responsible for cybersecurity?

A CISO or an equivalent leadership figure dedicated to cybersecurity underscores an organization’s commitment to robust defense mechanisms. CEOs should ascertain the existence of such roles within their organizational structure and delineate clear lines of responsibility for cybersecurity.

5. Who is providing services to my organization? How do we ensure our vendors take care of their information and ours?

Organizations often rely on external vendors for various services, necessitating a thorough assessment of their cybersecurity posture. CEOs should ensure that vendors prioritize information security and adhere to stringent protocols to safeguard their data and that of their clients.

6. Am I receiving the cybersecurity information I need to make active risk management decisions?

Effective risk management hinges on the availability of pertinent cybersecurity information. CEOs must evaluate whether they receive comprehensive updates on cyber threats and vulnerabilities to inform proactive decision-making.

7. Do I routinely communicate relevant risk environment and management decisions to the board?

Transparent communication with the board regarding the prevailing risk environment and risk management decisions is paramount. CEOs should ascertain whether they routinely disseminate pertinent cybersecurity insights to the board to foster a cohesive approach to risk mitigation.

8. How can my budget be optimized to address cybersecurity concerns?

Financial resources play a pivotal role in bolstering cybersecurity defenses. CEOs must explore avenues to optimize budget allocation to address cybersecurity concerns effectively, ensuring a judicious balance between investment and risk mitigation.


Cybersecurity is no longer an isolated concern relegated to IT departments in the contemporary digital landscape. It demands the active engagement of CEOs and senior executives to fortify organizational defenses against evolving threats. By posing incisive questions and fostering a proactive risk management culture, CEOs can steer their organizations toward enhanced cyber resilience and safeguard their valuable assets from potential breaches.

Key Takeaways for Readers

  • Cybersecurity is no longer just an IT concern but requires active engagement from CEOs and senior executives.
  • CEOs should pose critical questions to ascertain their organization’s risk appetite and bolster cyber resilience.
  • Key focus areas include threat identification, asset prioritization, data management, vendor oversight, and budget optimization.
  • Transparent communication with the board and proactive decision-making are essential for effective cybersecurity governance.