According to Recent Interview, Board of Director's Role in Cyber Security | Newport Board Group Thought Leadership

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According to experienced board director, Cyber security threats challenge boards of directors to fulfill their responsibilities

Rick Williams, a partner with Newport Board Group, has issued a call for corporate boards to go beyond their normal policies and procedures role with cyber issues. In a recent interview, he has emphasized that cyber security is a serious challenge for companies of all sizes. Williams’ perspective on the board’s role preparing companies for cyber-attacks and responses when attacks occur is presented in an Experts Interview hosted by the cyber security training company Threat Ready. Click HERE Geri Denterlein, founder of the prominent Boston based strategic communications firm Denterlein Associates, interviewed Williams on the board’s role in cyber security.

In the interview, Williams summarized his view of a board member’s role with cyber security. “As a board member, I am expected to ask the company leaders whether they have put in place policies and procedures that protect the company, its employees, its customers and its assets against cyber-attack. But my real responsibility is to be sure these procedures actually work.”

Rick Williams has been board chair of a quasi-public bank/VC firm and a medical device company. He currently serves on three technology company boards.

In the interview Williams made a number of key points. Cyber is a difficult challenge for boards because the technical issues are complex and companies have many vulnerabilities. The board’s influence is indirect, but is has direct responsibilities. As described in the interview, “bad actors can get access to the company’s systems and assets through the company’s online presence, employee emails, and connections to the internet, service contractors’ links into the company and subcontractor components connected to the company’s products or network. Building appropriate defenses is technically difficult and there are many not obvious pathways available to the bad actors.”

According to Williams, “the role of the board of directors is to review and guide the work of the company leadership as they address cyber security issues… The board must be sure that the company leadership understands the profile of cyber risks specific to the company. With that understanding, the board will ask whether the company has put in place appropriate policies and procedures designed to protect against these attacks and has developed responses in the event of an attack.”

According to the interview, Rick Williams’ bottom line recommendation to board members is: “The board must ask, “Does the company have defenses in place against cyber-attack?” If the answer is a simple “Yes.” That should be a red flag. There is no simple solution to the cyber challenge. Finding the proper balance of investment in cyber defenses against the risk of bad guy penetration is difficult.”

The full text of the interview is HERE.

Contact the Author:

Rick Williams, Partner
Newport Board Group

About Newport Board Group

Newport Board Group is a national partnership of corporate leaders who have had significant CEO roles in their careers. Newport provides advisory services to emerging, growth and middle market companies. Approximately 80 Newport partners across the US bring a wide spectrum of industry and functional expertise to client engagements. Newport draws on the deep operating experience of its partners to help clients grow, improve operations, align teams, and prepare for financing, acquisitions and sale. Newport partners also serve on client’s board of directors and take interim leadership roles. To learn more, visit the Newport Website.

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Mark Rosenman
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