Cyberattacks are no longer the exclusive domain of the chief information security officer (CISO). In fact, cyberattacks have become the leading business risk. Survey data from PWC shows that 40% of respondents list “more frequent and/or broader cyberattacks” as a serious risk. Another 38% call these attacks a moderate risk.
Managing these threats will require broader input from the chief information officer (CIO) and chief technical officer (CTO). This article will look at how these roles relate to increased cyber risk.
The CIO represents something of an evolving role within most organizations. Most CIOs are granted a seat at the risk management committee table and may have a greater role in overseeing the way that systems operate together.
These adaptations create additional responsibilities for the CIO, especially when it comes to cybersecurity. Here are just some of the ways that CIOs are involved in cybersecurity across modern companies:
Much of today’s technology relies on digital integrations, which is to say tools that are designed to work and communicate together.
This approach involves connecting physical machines together as well as integrating different software applications for increased functionality. CIOs play a role in ensuring that these processes are secure from end to end.
Every CIO must be aware of the regulations that govern their industry or business. These regulations can greatly influence the company’s cybersecurity strategy and may also offer best practices to manage risk.
Technology changes by the second. CIOs will have to rely on the right tools to provide the right controls at the right time. This reality means staying informed about industry practices and the best available tools to protect the company.
A company’s CIO will play a major role in cybersecurity training. At a minimum, the CIO will work to bring awareness of cybersecurity concerns to the workforce and also provide specialized training to those who are using specific machines or applications.
While it’s tempting to associate CIOs with traditional IT departments, modern CIOs will partner with other departments to ensure a comprehensive strategy for managing cyber threats.
For example, a CIO might partner with the chief operating officer (COO) or chief marketing officer (CMO) to ensure that all business operations are run smoothly while minimizing risk.
When arranging contracts, CIOs play an essential role in helping vendors understand the company’s cybersecurity protocols and methods. This work often includes an extensive vetting process involving audits, on-site visits, and an analysis of each vendor’s security rating.
It’s important to recognize that due to the changing roles of CIOs, the final say regarding cybersecurity practices may come from a separate role outside of IT. Yes, the CIO will remain involved, but it’s possible that their responsibilities will be broader, leaving the final decisions about security and implementation to another ranking team member.
The CTO is seen as the technology leader in the organization and will therefore collaborate with the CISO and other professionals to manage and minimize risk. Let’s look at some of the ways that CTOs impact an organization’s cybersecurity protocols:
Every time a company connects to the internet, it risks exposure to outside security threats. The leader in the CTO role prepares the company for these external threats, such as by implementing secure email protocols or choosing technical tools and processes that mitigate risk.
The CTO can adopt a comprehensive approach that protects and manages every asset within the organization. But that also means that the CTO can prioritize data security, adding additional layers of protection on an as-needed basis.
To best protect the company, CTOs can work closely with those in the C-suite, raising awareness of cybersecurity threats and protocols and cultivating buy-in for new procedures or technology. The CTO, therefore, has a collaborative role and can even influence budgetary decisions as they relate to the company’s security risks.
The CISO plays a critical role in protecting the company against cyberattacks, which means that CTOs will partner with these individuals to augment the organization’s defenses.
For example, CTOs and CISOs might collaborate to ensure that new technologies can help offer full protection or that future integrations adhere to the highest standard of online safety.
The CTO should constantly be evaluating tools and platforms that can help the organization protect against cyberattacks. CTOs can identify the best and newest software, as well as oversee the maintenance and patching processes that create a secure line of defense against today’s digital threats.
The entire company’s processes and operations should be optimized with security in mind. CTOs can work closely with CISOs to ensure that every IT asset that the company deploys contains security features to protect valuable data.
This work also means ensuring that department managers understand the security protocols necessary to protect against outside threats and can include these practices in training for their employees.
Security standards also apply to vendors, and it’s important that CTOs help vendors understand the company’s needs and processes when implementing new technology. CTOs will therefore be responsible for vetting vendors, screening their products, and avoiding technology that compromises the company’s strict security standards.
One of the most important things to note about CTOs and CIOs is that their respective roles are continuing to evolve to meet modern challenges. While both of these professional roles are directly involved in a company’s security, they may also play an important role in working alongside other professionals and even senior management.
Understanding these roles ensures that your organization has end-to-end protection, no matter the challenges you face.
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