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State of the CSO 2012: Ready for anything

Joan Goodchild | Oct. 2, 2012
The saying goes that in every crisis, there is an opportunity.

The saying goes that in every crisis, there is an opportunity. Compliance requirements, data and privacy demands, and the threat landscape are constantly evolving, forcing companies to realize the importance of security and invest accordingly. As security concerns expand, so does the role of the security leader.

Our annual State of the CSO survey finds a continuation of a two-part trend that we have been tracking for many years: First, there is more awareness of security and risk among companies, and second, in response, many organizations are using more formal enterprise risk management (ERM) programs. These policies, processes, methods, metrics and measurements help shape the strategic decisions for their organization. The goal is to make security strategy both targeted and holistic, proactive and defensive.

The survey gathered responses from 228 security professionals in a broad range of industries. Among those polled, 66 percent say their organization's leadership (that is, the CEO and board of directors) placed more value on risk management in the past year. That's a solid number, even higher than the 61 percent result in 2011.

[Also read The decade of the CSO]

And with that perceived value comes corresponding support, in the form of money and staff. Thirty-two percent of respondents expect to add to their full-time security headcount, and 45 percent expect their organization's overall security budget to increase in the coming year. Another 42 percent think their budget will stay the same; just 11 percent expect it to decrease. (Two percent were not sure.)

While the budget is growing, the prevalence of formal ERM programs is holding steady. The survey found that 56 percent of those polled say their organization now uses a formal ERM process or methodology that incorporates multiple types of risk and that goes beyond just physical and IT security. That's consistent with our findings in the past two years.

The State of the CSO results demonstrating the maturation of the security leader role are mirrored in IT-specific research from Wisegate, a professional network for security executives to share information. Wisegate found that the CISO's role is shifting from "a glorified IT security administrator, babysitting firewalls and cleaning malware from infected systems, to holistic risk management--from firefighting security breaches to anticipating fires before they start."

According to a recent Wisegate member poll, close to 100 percent of participants say they have combined information security and risk management responsibilities. Growing compliance requirements and the general threat landscape were cited as the two primary drivers of their increasing risk management responsibilities.

Philip Agcaoili, CISO with Cox Communications, the third-largest cable operator in the United States, has been a security executive for over a decade. A self-proclaimed "joiner," he says he has been networking with others in security since he became Verisign's first CSO in 1998, and he has since held several CSO positions. He has seen these changes coming for years, he says.

 

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