Cyber criminals are more sophisticated and resilient than ever. Their ability to access sensitive information has destroyed reputations and organizations. As a result, CEO’s are investing major resources in cybersecurity. However, many organizations still experience attacks. So where are the sources of vulnerability coming from? Many signs point to the CEO.
CEO’s and other high level executives are valuable targets compared to the average employee. Not only do they have access to many, if not all, areas of their organization’s network, they also have access to classified information. By targeting CEO’s, cyber criminals can get their hands on this information and use it to their advantage, whether that be financial gain or public humiliation.
In addition to being valuable targets, CEO’s are also easy targets. Everyone knows the CEO of an organization. Within seconds a Google search can provide you with their name, contact information, and a plethora of personal details. Hackers can use this information to target CEO’s through various methods, such as phishing attacks and direct hacking.
CEO’s are responsible for maximizing the value of their organization and achieving any outcomes related to the organizations mission statement. Cybersecurity has become a valuable component to this task. However, just because a CEO invests in cybersecurity and preaches its importance, does not mean they are following the same strict regulations enforced on other employees. For example, a study on the practices of senior management revealed that many CEO’s use applications that were not approved by their IT departments. This activity was not detected prior to the study as organizations were more focused on regulating the behavior of lower level employees. This left C-level executives free to engage in activities that risked their organizations security, whether they knew the risks or not.
A CEO's job is never done. No matter where they are, a CEO is expected to be reachable and able to work with sensitive data crucial to the operation of their organization. This dedication, however, poses major security threats. While working at coffee shops, airports, and other remote locations, many CEO's are using public, unsecured Wi-FI networks. These networks typically have low security standards that allow cyber criminals easy access to devices and their data. When a CEO or any other employee connects to unsecured, public Wi-Fi, they become the perfect target for cyber criminals- and the results can be destructive. In a global study of the data practices of senior managers by data security firm Code42, 42% of executives stated their business would be destroyed if they lost data stored on their devices.