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10 tips to help CIOs reduce stress

Paul Rubens | May 3, 2016
Too much work-related stress is unhealthy, but reducing it may be easier than you think.

The role of CIO can be a stressful one, and living under stress is something everyone should avoid. That's because overexposure to cortisol and other hormones that are released in times of stress can lead to health problems including anxiety, depression, sleep problems and heart disease.

The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to help remove the stress associated with a C-level position. Here are some tips from fellow executives.

Security stress

Tip 1: Know your network architecture like the back of your hand

A key to a good night's sleep is knowing exactly what you're responsible for -- how many data centers you have, where they are, where your critical applications are located and so on -- says Jeff Schilling, CSO of cybersecurity company Armor. "I am always surprised when I meet a CIO or senior IT leader in an organization and they can't describe their IT architecture," he says. "I lose sleep at night if I don’t know how my network is put together and what I need to do to protect it."

He suggests that to be in a position to do this you may need to make an investment in tools that help discover and track infrastructure in a change mManagement database if you don't have them already.

Tip 2: If you don't know it, block it

The last thing you want on your network is activity that you're either not aware of or uncertain as to its cause. But thanks to next-generation firewalls it's now possible to get a complete handle on what applications are in use on your network, and who is using them. What's more, you can control who can use what, and block everything else, says Rick Howard, CSO of enterprise security company Palo Alto Networks.

"If a CIO already knows the authorized applications and the users that run them, then any malicious behavior that pops up, like Command & Control activity and unauthorized data exfiltration, is by default an unknown application that can be blocked automatically," he says.  "Impact: CIO stress reduction."

Tip 3: Get serious about policies

It's exposure to risk that's a significant cause of CIO headaches, but IT security is all about risk management.  By judiciously applying appropriate policies to regulate what systems and data different users can access -- both internally and externally -- you can reduce these headaches, says Andrew Wertkin, CTO at software defined networking software company BlueCat Networks.

"Put controls in place to limit access to services or systems that aren’t necessary to support the business and your risk exposure goes down dramatically," he says.

 

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