Enterprises can no longer afford to see their CISOs confined to the dark recesses of the IT department
By: Rakesh Shah
Jul. 22, 2014 10:15 AM
The threats facing network operators all over the world, spanning service providers, enterprises, cloud and hosting providers and mobile operators alike, are by no means stalling. While optimism is always the name of the game, we know all too well in security that trying to keep pace with the slew of attack vectors out there today is an unfortunate reality. As our 9th annual Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report reveals the magnitude of attacks is on the upswing once again and coupled with increasingly complex, multi-vector style attacks, the threat is all too real.
Winning the battle against those threats depends on many factors: the expertise of the security organization; response plans and resources; and the ability to put those plans into action. Increasingly, part of the challenge for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) is in getting the right support from their senior management. That's not necessarily a new hurdle for CISOs to overcome. Management buy-in has always been vital for dealing with IT security threats. But with threats becoming more complex, the priority for CISOs is ensuring that they have sufficient resources to deal effectively with those issues.
Executive and board-level awareness of these threats is already pronounced: recent research found that senior executives and risk managers within American and Canadian enterprises today are more concerned about losing money through cyber threats than they are through property damage or investments or securities failing. This growing board-level awareness as to the severity of IT-based attacks means CISOs have an opportunity to champion their own role as a risk manager and defender of the business. By showing leadership and engaging proactively with other heads of department, CISOs can show how their expertise adds a ‘return on prevention' value to the business.
However, when it comes to getting their voices heard, many CISOs face an uphill struggle from day one - everything from IT being seen as ‘just' the cost of doing business and not an asset, to board members with vastly different priorities (i.e., those who would rather wait for their house to be on fire to call the fire department versus taking preemptive action upfront). If CISOs are to deliver an understandable call to action and gain the credibility to push their strategic plans, they need to deploy a range of tactics to make their voices heard including:
These days, no enterprise risk assessment and business plan is complete without taking into account the operational risk represented by cyber security attacks intended to have a negative effect on the availability of key online services. Enterprises can no longer afford to see their CISOs confined to the dark recesses of the IT department because as DDoS attacks and other cyber threats have become increasingly high-tech and more complex, enterprises need a technologist with a seat at the table.
But with greater responsibility comes the challenge of gaining and maintaining credibility within the C-suite. And it is only by conveying this threat in a language the business understands - by demonstrating the potential outcomes using examples familiar to other business heads - that the CISO will be able to get the buy-in they need to do their job properly. This is the challenge and the opportunity - the opportunity for the CISO to get the recognition they deserve and the backing to deal with the ever-growing threat faced by organizations today.
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