Show Executives that Cybersecurity Drives Operational Resilience

3 minute read

March 2023

One strong approach to justifying your cybersecurity budget to executive leadership is to show how your cyber spend improves operational resilience – the ability to maintain critical services in the face of a cybersecurity event. Operational resilience saves your business money by preventing service disruption when interruptions occur, even as less prepared organizations suffer decreased revenue and lost trust. Reliable service is a cornerstone of good business, meaning operational resilience is foundational to the organization’s success. In this blog, we’ll walk you through the three steps to linking cybersecurity spend to operational resilience.

1. Analyze critical services 

Before making the case that your program protects the organization’s most integral services, you need to know the role played by each of your critical services and the actions necessary to protect them. To identify which services are essential and what protection strategy each demands, you should start by asking: 

  • Which digital assets are essential to your services? 
  • Which aspects of the service could be disrupted if that asset was breached? 
  • What vulnerabilities would need to be exploited to breach that asset? 
  • What protocols could be put in place to mitigate those vulnerabilities? 

Once you’ve answered those questions, you should understand the consequences of a critical service disruption and the actions necessary to mitigate that risk. Next, you must organize your services by criticality: if disrupting a service would cause a greater financial or operational impact over a longer period, then protecting the assets involved should be a higher priority. By identifying and ranking critical services, you both establish the assets and protections intertwined with operational resilience and prepare yourself for the next step. 

2. Calculate the cost of disruption 

Once you’ve identified your critical services, you can translate that technical knowledge into business-friendly data by calculating the cost of disruption for each. By determining the likelihood of a breach, how long a disruption would stall operations, which functions would be stalled while the breach was being managed, the amount of revenue lost during that time, and the fines levied in the case of a breach, you can determine how much money the organization would lose if it suffered an event it wasn’t prepared to recover from. Advocating for budget can be a challenge but demonstrating that the cost of inaction outweighs your funding request is a strong strategy for communicating with the line of business. 

 Beyond the direct cost of a service disruption, it’s also worth considering the substantial reputational and regulatory risk associated with service disruptions. Regulatory action results in fines, but just as important is the time your organization will spend dealing with regulatory proceedings and the impact such an event would have on your ability to do business moving forward. As a rule, people want to work with business that keep their data secure—if they don’t think you’ll do so, they’ll work with someone else. 

 3. Align cybersecurity projects to critical services 

Once you’ve calculated the cost of disruption for each of your critical services, you can identify the projects necessary to ensure cybersecurity resilience in each of these areas. For instance, maybe you’re a healthcare organization that stores private health information (PHI) on company servers. Once you’ve calculated the cost of a breach, which in this case would be very high, it’s easy to make a case for the significantly smaller cost of instituting advancements in protective cyber measures.  

 The concept of operational resilience is most persuasive when communicated with meaningful data, showing how it saves the business money over time. By comparing the cost of your planned cyber measures to the cost of inaction, you can argue convincingly that cybersecurity resilience is good business. 

As is demonstrated above, cybersecurity resilience doesn’t just involve the cyber team: it requires buy-in from the line of business, and strong practices on the part of the wider organization. One method for achieving cyber resilience is aligning cybersecurity practices with third-party risk management to ensure your data is safe in the vendor ecosystem. To learn more about operational resilience in cyber and third parties, read this blog about achieving resilience by aligning third-party risk with cybersecurity. 

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ProcessUnity is a leading provider of cloud-based applications for risk and compliance management. The company’s software as a service (SaaS) platform gives organizations the control to assess, measure, and mitigate risk and to ensure the optimal performance of key business processes. ProcessUnity’s flagship solution, ProcessUnity Vendor Risk Management, protects companies and their brands by reducing risks from third-party vendors and suppliers. ProcessUnity helps customers effectively and efficiently assess and monitor both new and existing vendors – from initial due diligence and onboarding through termination. Headquartered outside of Boston, Massachusetts, ProcessUnity is used by the world’s leading financial service firms and commercial enterprises. For more information, visit