What Does a Chief Security Officer Do?

According to Forbes magazine, corporations now recognize the need to employ Chief Security Officers to reduce various risks. This includes IT security, legal compliance, operational procedures, strategic planning, financial controls and brand management.

Chief Security Officer – Corporate Compliance

A Chief Security Officer who focuses on corporate compliance will manage security policies and procedures for global business operations and legislative compliance. They will oversee the integration of continually changing security controls and principles. They work closely with Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) to ensure that human and digital vulnerabilities are minimized and properly managed. They may serve as the principal liaison with Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies. They will also closely work with the company’s IT, legal, compliance and HR units.

They may be asked to define and lead security teams who ensure that data, assets, people, facilities, technology and intellectual property are protected against loss, harm, disruption or reputation damage. They usually lead and manage business programs, such as crisis management, business continuity, security awareness, fraud detection and emergency response. They may also direct internal security investigation and intelligence programs. They ensure that effective digital, physical and procedural controls are implemented to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of company assets, technology and operations.

Chief Security Officer – Corporate IT

A Chief Security Officer who focuses on IT will supervise the development of corporate security policies and standards. They will prepare financial forecasts for security operations, define maintenance costs for security assets and provide leadership and guidance to personnel. They work with senior executives to ensure that IT protection policies are being properly implemented, effectively reviewed and timely maintained. They maintain awareness of the most recent industry trends, security policies and professional publications.

Chief Security Officers who mainly deal with IT support engineering teams who design, develop and improve software and applications for various systems and networks. They are the key adviser for creating systems that comply with new system security policies. They provide technical support to security analysts and testers who investigate and resolve security attacks and breaches. These Chief Security Officers will usually have a master’s degree in computer science or cyber security and at least 10 years of experience in system security engineering, managing security operations and reviewing security infrastructure and enterprise architecture.

Expected Core Competencies

Chief Security Officers must have the ability to navigate disruptive and fast-paced environments that come with deadlines and pressure. They promote technological innovation to continually mitigate emerging risks and vulnerabilities. They will need to have a demonstrated record of results-driven program management. They will also need to have a proven record of strategic and risk based planning that proactively balances security objectives, business needs and financial limitations.

Chief Security Officers will be expected to initiate meaningful engagement with executive management by providing valuable advice and cautionary recommendations. Many Chief Security Officers have previous employment experience in the fields of corporate intelligence, formal investigations, enterprise security and federal or military security systems. Chief Security Officers must have the ability to gain trust and credibility across a wide range of business and external stakeholders. They will also need proven analytical, judgment, confidentiality and problem solving abilities.

Anyone who wants to become a Chief Security Officer can pursue a graduate degree in cyber security, which includes specializations in network security, software development and cyber security policy or management.

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