Six ways to be a resilient leader in the face of cyber crime

20 April 2018 -

Cyber crimeFrom sharing responsibility for I.T to recognise where your biggest threats lie, these are the steps that managers need to take in the face of cyber crime

By guest bloggers Ian Robson and Russell Williams

The digital era is gathering pace. Machine code, artificial intelligence and quantum computing represent both lucrative possibility and devastating attack.

Corporate warfare is being waged between competitive giants behind the scenes. The global political arena is rife with talk of social media manipulation to enhance electability. And these threats create misunderstandings around concepts such as big data and data mining, as well as traditional theories of leadership and strategy.


We need to incorporate cyber security into our strategic thinking to protect the organisations we lead. Most organisations tackle cyber-crime at the tactical level rather than strategically, which means that the solutions are less durable and are too short term. Here’s how we can approach this strategy.

Understand who your hackers are – and why they’re a threat

Understanding cyber criminals is a key dimension of developing resilience. Hackers are individuals and groups of criminals who acquire unauthorised access into a data system to disrupt it and potentially steal resources. Hackers are technically adept and have a variety of motives – ethical, criminal, political and so on – though they can also be internal employees or contractors. Resilience in this setting also requires an understanding of the risk associated with dependence on technology.

Get active on social media

Cyber activity is pivotal in sustaining organisational direction and development. In the face of a hack, leaders need to stay on course with their own policies and strategies and share these through social media. This turns the tables on trolls and other potential sources and tools of disruption.

Plan for different scenarios

Communication is key but good strategy is based on the best possible data and planning. Scenarios can be developed imagine unexpected events and solutions. That said the resilient leader knows there is always the potential for change and crises to require fast action.

Recognise that change causes tension

Adaptiveness is no longer an independent attribute of great leadership. Leaders need to use their powers of sensitivity to sense the emergence of tensions that both require change and arise from it.

Maintain employee support

Leaders need to use informal leadership skills to motivate colleagues at all levels. As structures change and decision-making becomes automated, leaders should understand how to focus on project leadership and delegation with attention to process and progress.

Share responsibility for cyber-security

Responsibility for cyber issues needs to be clear within organisations. In many contexts, responsibility is deferred from the CEO and board down to IT middle management. This is exceptionally dangerous. Resilience can only be developed through shared cyber responsibility. This enables a team to collect, collate and share intelligence on cyber crime.

Dr Ian Robson FCMI FRSA is head of management studies at University of Aberdeen Business School

Image: Shutterstock

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