How Do You Communicate Complex Security Issues to Non-Technical Stakeholders?


    How Do You Communicate Complex Security Issues to Non-Technical Stakeholders?

    Communicating complex security issues to non-tech savvy stakeholders is an art, and we've gathered insights starting with a Cyber Security Consultant's strategy of using analogies and visual aids. Alongside expert advice, we also include additional answers that distill the essence of cybersecurity into digestible concepts. From employing familiar metaphors to demystifying issues with visual diagrams, discover how professionals across the spectrum ensure their message is both clear and impactful.

    • Use Analogies and Visual Aids
    • Start with High-Level Overviews
    • Simplify with Relatable Examples
    • Employ Familiar Metaphors
    • Gamify Cybersecurity Education
    • Craft Jargon-Free Security Briefs
    • Tell Impactful Security Stories
    • Demystify with Visual Diagrams

    Use Analogies and Visual Aids

    When I had to explain complex security issues to stakeholders without a technical background, I used simple language and analogies. I avoided technical jargon and instead compared cybersecurity concepts to everyday situations they could relate to, such as explaining a firewall as a type of guard or filter, similar to a door with a security lock.

    I also used visuals like charts or diagrams to make the information more understandable. For example, I would show how data moves through a network and where potential risks could occur, similar to showing the flow of water through pipes and pointing out where leaks might happen.

    I made sure to explain the consequences of security breaches in practical terms, like the loss of customer trust or financial damage, to highlight the importance of cybersecurity measures. Additionally, I provided clear, actionable steps they could take to improve security, ensuring they felt informed and equipped to make decisions without being overwhelmed with technical details.

    Chinyelu Karibi-Whyte
    Chinyelu Karibi-WhyteCyber Security Consultant, Cyb-Uranus Limited

    Start with High-Level Overviews

    When it comes to explaining complex issues to a non-technical audience, I always recommend starting with a high-level overview of the challenge, followed by a high-level overview of the solution you have in mind. Once those are understood, I would break down into more technical pieces how you get from point A to point B.

    Listen to how your audience is responding to the explanation and tailor your language as you go.

    Corey Schwitz
    Corey SchwitzCEO & Founder, Skydog Ops

    Simplify with Relatable Examples

    When we talk about complex security issues related to indoor air, I try to keep things simple for our stakeholders who might not know much about the technical side. At Your IAQ, we think of our buildings as if they are part of our family, needing protection from things that can't be seen but can harm us, like poor air quality. I like to say our buildings need a 'health shield' that spots and stops air problems before they affect us. I explain this using easy-to-understand examples and focus on what everyone cares most about: keeping our spaces safe and healthy. This way, everyone understands why it's important and feels they can help make our indoor spaces better. It's all about making sure the message is clear and connects with what's important to everyone.

    Gideon Ruben
    Gideon RubenCEO, Your IAQ

    Employ Familiar Metaphors

    When trying to explain complex security issues to those who may not be well-versed in technical lingo, it is effective to employ metaphors that draw on common life experiences. For instance, comparing a firewall to a bank's vault door can help non-technical stakeholders understand the concept of network protection. By relating cybersecurity to something familiar, one can bridge the gap between complex technical operations and the everyday experiences that the audience understands well.

    This approach can make the intricacies of cyber threats more tangible and less intimidating. To improve security awareness, consider starting a conversation using metaphors that resonate with your audience's regular activities.

    Gamify Cybersecurity Education

    Interactive, gamified cybersecurity training modules offer an engaging way to educate non-technical stakeholders about security issues. This method turns learning into an enjoyable activity, encouraging participants to focus on the content. Through games, quizzes, and challenges, users can learn about potential threats and the importance of maintaining security protocols in a stress-free environment.

    This hands-on approach can lead to better retention of information and a stronger grasp of the concepts presented. Foster a culture of security in your organization by setting up a cybersecurity game for your team to play and learn from.

    Craft Jargon-Free Security Briefs

    Crafting concise, jargon-free informational security briefs is crucial for communicating with non-technical stakeholders. These briefs should focus on the key points of security issues without overwhelming the reader with technical terms that might be unfamiliar to them. By presenting the facts clearly and simply, stakeholders can understand the urgency and importance of the security measures being discussed.

    Simplifying the information helps in making informed decisions to mitigate risks. Encourage your stakeholders to review these briefs regularly to stay updated on security concerns.

    Tell Impactful Security Stories

    Storytelling can be a powerful tool to convey the importance of cybersecurity to non-technical stakeholders. By creating a narrative around past security incidents or hypothetical scenarios, one can illustrate the consequences of security breaches in a relatable and memorable way. Connecting emotionally with the audience can also help emphasize the value of proactive security measures.

    A well-told story about the fallout from a data breach, for instance, may prompt stakeholders to take security more seriously. Share a story at your next meeting that underscores the importance of robust security practices.

    Demystify with Visual Diagrams

    Using diagrams to visually map out threats can make complex security issues more comprehensible for non-technical stakeholders. Visual aids like flowcharts, infographics, or threat models can break down the information into digestible parts, making it easier to grasp the overall picture of a security landscape. A well-designed diagram can highlight how different areas of a business are connected and may be impacted by various security threats.

    Visual representations can demystify technical concepts and foster a better understanding of why certain security measures are necessary. Present a diagram at your next briefing that outlines potential security challenges and their solutions.