The sad reality: Cybersecurity in Corporate Culture

Let's be honest: a lot of security work boils down to appearances over effectiveness. Checklists get filled, fancy presentations fly around, but are you actually safer? Often, the answer might be a disheartening "not really." This isn't about bashing specific people; it's about how the incentives within organizations push us toward this trap, and how we can start clawing our way out.

The Compliance Dance vs. True Resilience

Picture this scene: some shiny new buzzword "Zero Trust!" "XDR!", "AI Bots! makes the rounds, CEOs see it splashed across Gartner reports, and suddenly it's your problem. They shove a fistful of cash your way with a mandate to "Do the thing!" . Now, your top priority is to "do X thing," the latest hotness. Maybe it's ISO/IEC 27001, maybe it's implementing some high-priced vendor's magic solution. It doesn't matter if it actually fits your specific risks.

Of course, you might have an experienced analyst pointing out glaring deficiencies – servers unpatched for ages, critical data sitting wide open for anyone on the network, etc. But fixing foundational issues is less flashy than a shiny new compliance project. So, those high-dollar consultants sweep in, declare you almost ready (if you conveniently ignore certain things), and just like that, the fancy certificate arrives.

Execs are happy, security folks are demoralized, and actual hackers keep on hacking.

Why the Disconnect?

Here some of my theories...

  • Breaches Are Tomorrow's Problem: Compliance checkboxes feel good today, even if they won't actually block real-world attacks. Execs deal with what's on fire right now, future breaches can be someone else's mess.
  • Lost in Translation: IT teams explain vulnerabilities, executives want to know how that impacts their bottom line. If you can't bridge that gap, they'll happily fund expensive projects with impressive-sounding names.
  • Knowledge Gets Sidelined: Folks often get promoted away from hands-on work. If someone hasn't configured a firewall in years, but now leads your security team, their priorities can easily become divorced from reality.

What can we do about it?

Make your work more visible! Here some tips how:

  • Use News to make your work visible : Big vulnerability or breach hits the headlines? Don't wait for the panicked emails! Fire off a proactive note highlighting how your architecture, procedures, or coding standards render this irrelevant. Leverage competitor mishaps! "Saw this [breach]? Don't worry, we did [this to mitigate]!" or "This couldn't happen to us – our strict [policy/technology] keeps client data under lock and key." Now, security's not a cost, it's a selling point.

  • Stats Tell a Story: Security shouldn't be anecdotal. Track those thwarted intrusion attempts (Cloudflare/fail2ban/datadog, whatever tools you use). Don't just drop raw numbers, spin it: "Blocked X thousand intrusion attempts last week, a Y% increase... This proves we need [resource/tool] to stay ahead!"

  • Speak Business, Not Binary: "Outdated servers are vulnerable" won't cut it. Try making clear how all the work did in security directly ties into the things the leadership cares about – risk, reputation, profit. Try: "If XYZ system crashes, estimated down time is 3 days, costing roughly $500K." Connect tech issues directly to revenue or loss.

Shifting an entire company culture is slow and painful. True security comes from relentlessly fixing issues on the ground, not just aiming for some ever-changing compliance goalpost.