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The new face in the C-suite: Chief Information Security Officer

Collin Penman, Regional Business Unit Executive, IBM Security Systems, Southeast Asia | Jan. 2, 2015
As more and more businesses around the world fall victim to data breaches, a rising number of companies are welcoming Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) to the boardroom table.

In the world of IT, the role of watchman is becoming increasingly difficult. For all the excitement surrounding the growing power of mobile, cloud and big data, cyber attackers are also becoming increasingly sophisticated, well-funded and difficult to detect. Security breaches can now take weeks or even months to be discovered, which increases the damage inflicted and the likelihood that valuable data will be stolen and compromised.

As more and more businesses across Singapore and around the world fall victim to data breaches, a rising number of companies are welcoming Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) to the boardroom table. The growing respect for this role is a testament to the elevated status of enterprise information as the new crown jewels.

Welcoming the rise of the CISO
IBM recently released its third annual CISO study, which underscores the rapid ascent of the CISO. From the study, it was found that 90 percent of security leaders strongly agree that they have significant influence in their organisation with over 76 per cent voicing that they have seen a significant increase in their degree of influence over the last three years.

Keeping information assets safe in today's landscape is certainly proving to be an uphill battle, which cannot be done in isolation. According to the study, 40 percent of security experts believe that sophisticated external threats remain their top challenge and will require the most organisational effort over the next three to five years.

At the core of this will be technology with nearly 50 percent agreeing that deploying new security technology in data, cloud and mobile being the top focus area for their organisation.

  • Data-driven security intelligence capabilities are top of mind – Over 70 percent said real-time security intelligence is increasingly important to their organisation. Despite this strong agreement, the study found areas such as data classification and discovery, and security intelligence analytics have relatively low maturity (54 percent) and require a higher need for improvement or transformation.
  • Cloud security continues to lead the agenda – While concern over cloud security remains strong, close to 90 percent have adopted cloud or are currently planning cloud initiatives. Of this group, 75 percent expect their cloud security budget to increase or increase dramatically over the next three to five years.
  • Significant mobile security needs still remain – Despite the growing mobile workforce, only 45 percent stated they have an effective mobile device management approach. In fact, according to the study, mobile and device security ranked at the bottom of the maturity list at 51 percent.

With this transformation comes a corresponding growth in the role of CISOs. While in previous years, many security professionals aspired to be strategic influencers, 61 percent of this year's respondents categorised themselves as such. This shift is evidence of the maturing role of security leaders within their ever-more aware organisations.


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