Security Must-Dos for CIOs in 2021

What should be on top of your priority list of cyber security? Transparency, talent, and testing for starters.

Cyber risk has emerged as the number-one concern of executives in advanced economies as the sophistication of attacks, technologies designed to defend against them, and global regulations evolve rapidly. The sheer volume of cyberattacks has made cybersecurity more than just a technology concern, it is now a significant existential threat to every business and organizations are looking to CIOs (Chief Information Officers) to manage this business risk. Simultaneously, cybercriminals have cast a wide net covering every aspect of vulnerability from old-school email compromises to sophisticated methods of cryptocurrency mining to unlock doors into a company. In this article, we talk about seven of the most important actions IT leaders can take as they plan their cyber security activities and agenda for 2021-22.

1. Test Security Protocols and Correct

The most efficient and effective things a CIO can do to protect their company is to prepare. This involves not just working with a CISO (chief information security officer) and business partners to pull together key elements of cybersecurity prevention and response plan, but also thoroughly and regularly testing it to see well it serves the organization as it evolves. Remember it is a smaller investment to practice for a digital disaster than to respond to one. Therefore, CIOs must make sure to think ahead, determine reporting mechanism, practice a communication plan. Accordingly, this exercise often highlights vulnerabilities where you may need outside partners to assist you with an incident response and recovery plan. We also recommend rehearsing full restores and investing in ongoing cybersecurity assessments and penetration testing.

2. Stay Informed

It is imperative for CIOs and their key cybersecurity team members to educate themselves on offensive and defensive advances. Nation-state hackers don’t just target countries, but also attack private companies. Hence, be sure to go over alerts from DHS and FBI to evaluate the risk facing your company. Nevertheless, cybersecurity attacks and criminal tactics are constantly evolving, it is important for IT leaders to comprehend advancing minds to be able to better respond. Finally, attend cybersecurity conferences, follow latest cybersecurity information on social media accounts, read cybersecurity articles, and explore free guidance available like the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.

3. Align Security and Business Strategy

CIOs often treat security in silos. However, when security is inadequate, the entire business falls prey. Therefore, cybersecurity strategy must be considered an enterprise and business strategy. CIOs are responsible not just for the technical aspects of cybersecurity, but the business impacts as well. They must evaluate the business priorities of their organization and how security relates to these priorities.

CIOs must acknowledge the significant implication a negative event can have on a company’s reputation and do everything in their power to balance implementing technologies and creating interoperability while also fending off cybercriminals.

4. Design for Humans

Accept the fact that the best laid cybersecurity plans can go awry. Security must be designed for humans. You cannot enact processes and procedures that are so complex that a regular non-tech employee finds ways around them. You must assume that your employees will use free WiFi hotspots, they will recycle passwords, they will respond to that phishing email, and then prepare yourself for that.

5. Get to Know Physical Security

The lines between physical and digital are merging, and that will have implications on cybersecurity as well. Smart buildings, for instance, can introduce several new attack surfaces.

6. Be Transparent

All CIOs know it’s not a matter of if, but when, their systems are breached, yet they may still view cyber incidents as a professional embarrassment. Looking ahead, IT leaders must evolve that mindset by practicing – and encouraging – more openness on the cyber front. If you plan and still fail but recover quickly, that’s a success story.

7. Widen the Talent

Net CIOs and C-suite executives often tend to chase the same degrees, resumes, colleges, and IT security certificates.

Furthermore, many of the security intelligence employees do not have a traditional background. Therefore, a CIO is required to be purposeful and mindful of how a candidate looks beyond the paper. We at CSG Technologies retrain and retool insatiable problem solvers which we find is crucial to innovation and success. You can always have us be an extension of your IT team and allow us to be your guide to navigate the cybersecurity landscape.

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Matt Parks

About the Author: President & CEO, Matt has over 20 years building and leading high functioning teams
delivering exceptional results