With Web-​​based threats becoming increas­ingly sophis­ti­cated and aggres­sive, top busi­ness exec­u­tives must pri­or­i­tize cyber­se­cu­rity just as highly as the bottom line and other crit­ical aspects of their com­pa­nies, according to Thomas A. Kennedy, chairman and CEO of Raytheon Company.

Cyber­se­cu­rity is now some­thing that we must treat in our busi­nesses just like we watch our bal­ance sheets,” Kennedy, the keynote speaker Tuesday morning at North­eastern University’s CEO Break­fast Forum, said to other busi­ness leaders in attendance.

North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun hosts the CEO Break­fast Forum series, in which leading CEOs share their exper­tise with audi­ences of other CEOs and senior exec­u­tives from the Greater Boston area.

In his remarks Kennedy noted sev­eral recent high-​​profile exam­ples of cyber­se­cu­rity making head­lines, including Sony Pic­tures’ data breach and researchers showing how they can remotely hack into and take con­trol of a Jeep Cherokee. He noted that in today’s dig­ital world, busi­nesses’ entire oper­a­tions are tied together in the cyberdomain—an approach driven in part by con­sumers’ increasing demand for the value, capa­bil­i­ties, and con­ve­nience the dig­ital realm provides.

The sources of Web-​​based risks, he said, include nation states attacking gov­ern­ments and busi­nesses, cyber­crim­i­nals searching for and selling indi­vid­uals’ per­sonal infor­ma­tion, “hack­tivists” with polit­ical or social agendas, and com­pa­nies’ own employees delib­er­ately or acci­den­tally acti­vating a vulnerability.

As a result, Kennedy said exec­u­tives must be aware of what’s going on in this domain, both in terms of the company’s infor­ma­tion tech­nology sys­tems but also the prod­ucts and ser­vices it delivers. He specif­i­cally out­lined sev­eral aspects of their com­pa­nies’ infor­ma­tion secu­rity plans exec­u­tives should know about, including cyber­se­cu­rity risk man­age­ment processes, whether all employees have been trained on cyber­se­cu­rity poli­cies and pro­ce­dures, how employees’ and cus­tomers’ per­son­ally iden­ti­fi­able infor­ma­tion is pro­tected, and what mea­sures are in place to track and ana­lyze a breach if one occurs.

The foun­da­tion to Raytheon’s own strategy for cyber­se­cu­rity, Kennedy said, involves pro­tecting the company’s infra­struc­ture, prod­ucts and solu­tions sold glob­ally, and cus­tomers around the world.

Our vision is to be one global team cre­ating trusted, inno­v­a­tive solu­tions to make the world a safer place,” he said.

Raytheon Com­pany, which was founded in 1922 and is now head­quar­tered in Waltham, Mass­a­chu­setts, is a tech­nology and inno­va­tion leader spe­cial­izing in defense, civil gov­ern­ment, and cyber­se­cu­rity mar­kets throughout the world. The com­pany has 61,000 employees world­wide and is one of Mass­a­chu­setts’ largest employers.

Kennedy joined Raytheon in 1983. He started off in engi­neering on radar devel­op­ment, and over the past 32 years has devel­oped a deep under­standing of the company’s oper­a­tions, tech­nolo­gies, and cus­tomers through a variety of lead­er­ship posi­tions. He became CEO in March 2014 and chairman in October 2014.

In wel­come remarks, Aoun hailed Kennedy as an accom­plished engi­neer and a strong leader. Aoun shared that when he asked Kennedy how he devel­oped his lead­er­ship skills, Kennedy pointed to his mil­i­tary ser­vice. Kennedy served in the U.S. Air Force, attaining the rank of cap­tain, and he earned his master’s degree in elec­trical engi­neering at the Air Force Insti­tute of Tech­nology. He also holds a doc­torate in engi­neering from the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­fornia, Los Angeles.

Over the years North­eastern and Raytheon have devel­oped a long­standing part­ner­ship. In addi­tion to phil­an­thropic sup­port, the com­pany has employed more than 450 co-​​op stu­dents since 2002 and cur­rently employs more than 600 alumni. Northeastern’s promi­nent alumni at Raytheon include Trustee Emer­itus Dennis J. Picard, LI’59, UC’62, H’89, the retired chairman and CEO of Raytheon Com­pany; Cor­po­rator Richard R. Yuse, E’74, ME’76, a Raytheon vice pres­i­dent and pres­i­dent of Raytheon Space and Air­borne Sys­tems; and Michael Del Chec­colo, E’91, vice pres­i­dent of engi­neering at Raytheon Inte­grated Defense Sys­tems and a member of the Col­lege of Engineering’s MIE Indus­trial Advi­sory Board.

The bottom line is our busi­nesses need talent, and we need the best talent we can pos­sibly get to com­pete in the global mar­ket­place,” Kennedy said. “I can tell you North­eastern has never failed us in pro­viding the talent that we need to be able win in our global market.”