How CISO’s Can Secure The Enterprise Today

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The role of Chief Information Security Officer or CISO today has become more strategic, just as it has become more complex and high impact. The CISO is now part of every executive leadership ecosystem and has a say in all the affairs of the business where IT and data are involved. As technology and data analytics have started becoming more crucial to the performance of every business function, the CISO’s ambit has also been expanding.
The risks are growing, and the consequences of any vulnerability being exposed are too. For instance, a breach of sensitive customer data could lead to disastrous consequences such as expensive lawsuits, hefty fines, and, more importantly, loss of trust from customers.
Just consider the example of Equifax which had to agree to a USD 700 Million settlement for a data breach incident in 2017 where the private data of nearly 150 million consumers was compromised. You may be tempted to think that Equifax was more at risk because it is a global giant that deals with financial credentials.
Unfortunately, in today’s highly digital world, information security is no longer a luxury relevant only to such companies. As all businesses turn to technology platforms and solutions to power every aspect of their operations, they acquire large volumes of data from their customers as well as build up volumes of their confidential data. That’ represents a giant prize for malicious elements.
This means the CISO has a key role to play today in everything from reshaping operating principles to securing the infrastructure required for the execution of expansion plans.
So, in challenging conditions, how can CISO’s secure the enterprise of today?
Define (and Drive) the Corporate Security Culture
In traditional business organizations, the workplace and key operational units defined their workflows, policies, and protocols while the IT department’s job was to follow and implement the policies that were created by the business. Today, it is the other way around as the IT team defines policies and protocols to be followed while designing (and automating) the process workflows for the business.
The CISO is tasked with identifying the most secure organizational workflow for business units to conduct their daily transactions. Beyond defining the practices, it is the CISO’s responsibility to foster a culture of secure information exchange and management within the organization. The influence of the CISO should be seen in all areas from HR to finance and in framing rules and processes for a range of activities such as employee on-boarding to security checks and compliance.
Create Governance Groups or Compliance Team
The CISO would do well to assemble a task force comprising IT-focused stakeholders from different business units. This is the team that will support the CISO’s vision and that adds heft to the implementation.
These team members would own the responsibility of enabling compliance in their respective business units or teams. The team members will be responsible for identifying unique instances and nuances in their team that requires attention and advice from the CISO to align with the organization’s singular focus on security and governance. All the issues and challenges related to budgetary approvals, roles, and responsibilities, and ongoing tweaks, etc. will be addressed within such a team, thereby preventing any delays to key business security priorities.
Evaluate New Platforms, Software, and Vendors
The security chain is only as strong as the weakest link. As more digital solutions get embedded into a company’s technology ecosystem it is important to ensure that they are compliant with the organization’s security and data integrity protection policies
From VPN’s to OS updates, CISO’s need to authoritatively enforce security norms to ensure the security of all business data and assets. CISO’s need to authoritatively define guidelines or checklists to be followed before selecting any software platform or technology partner for furthering the business’s digital ambitions. The ability of the software to comply with data governance rules would be a critical assessment factor to determine its suitability. Similarly, while selecting vendors or partners to assist with various technology initiatives, CISO’s need to frame audit processes and rules to help assess the alignment of these vendors with the business’s security policies.
Encourage Continuous Evolution of Information Security Measures
There’s no doubt that security and data protection will be a continuous battle. CISOs will have to become the guiding light for the organization to keep themselves ready to fight that battle. All the constituent elements of the organization need to learn about the latest cyber threats and their countermeasures. They need to be continuously aware of best practices followed in the industry and seamlessly integrate them into their operations.
The CISO should also drive the adoption of new technology on this path. Identifying areas where emerging technologies like Intelligent Automation and Machine Learning can be deployed for autonomous security monitoring is one example. CISO’s need to view security as a learning experience that empowers their efforts to continuously update the security posture of the organization.
With nearly 68% of businesses experiencing a spike in cybersecurity risks and the outlook looking even grimmer, CISO’s have a crucial role in protecting the organization today and shaping the enterprise of tomorrow. In upcoming posts, we will try to outline how CISO’s are re-defining corporate enterprise processes and culture to make security a permanent priority. There’s a lot to explore here and we aim to cover it all!

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