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CIO and Chief Risk Officer (CRO): Roles in Cybersecurity

Cio and chief risk officer (cro)

Today, both the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and the Chief Risk Officer (CRO) have become crucial to building a successful cybersecurity program. 

In this post, you’ll learn about both the CIO’s and the CRO’s responsibilities when it comes to safeguarding against cyber threats.

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Roles of Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Risk Officer (CRO)

As an organization grows in complexity, it becomes increasingly important to implement a sophisticated cybersecurity program. 

After all, the larger an organization is, the more complex and vulnerable its digital ecosystem becomes. Also, bigger organizations typically have more valuable digital assets, making them a ripe target for financially motivated attacks.

To bolster defense, many companies hire more than one officer tasked with cyber security. Below, we’ll look at a few of these roles and how their responsibilities differ.

Chief Information Officer (CIO)

The Chief Information Officer (CIO) is the senior-most IT leader in many organizations. 

Naturally, the exact nature of the role will differ from organization to organization.

For the most part, however, CIOs tend to be responsible for:

  • Managing IT operations and services
  • Reviewing and recommending new technologies to business leaders
  • Designing and leading digital transformation initiatives

In recent years, the role of the CIO has been expanding to include other areas, such as business strategy, data management, and cybersecurity. 

As a result, they must often work closely with other senior executives and IT leaders, such as Chief Data Officers (CDOs), Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs), and Chief Risk Officers (CROs)

Chief Risk Officer (CRO)

You can’t have a cybersecurity program without a detailed knowledge of its risks.

The CRO position is designed to respond to the risk environment and make the right decisions at the right time for the organization. 

Among other things, CROs perform tasks such as:

  • Assessing potential risks that could impact the entire organization
  • Designing risk mitigation plans and risk frameworks
  • Monitor the effectiveness and performance of risk mitigation efforts
  • Working with senior leaders to develop business continuity, emergency response, and disaster recovery plans

Naturally, since cybersecurity represents an increasingly important part of today’s technology-driven organization, CROs will need to collaborate closely with IT leaders, including CIOs and other security professionals.

Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs)

The Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) specifically focuses on IT security and information security. 

Their responsibilities include:

  • Designing and managing cybersecurity programs
  • Working with outside vendors to procure and deploy security solutions
  • Monitoring trends and developments in the cybersecurity world
  • Collaborating with CIOs, CROs, CDOs, and other relevant IT leaders

The CISO will sometimes report directly to the CIO, and sometimes they will report to the CEO.

Regardless of the reporting structure, the CISO is instrumental in building a cybersecurity program that works.

How CISOs, CIOs, and CROs Can Work Together to Maximize Cybersecurity

There are several roadblocks to ensuring that an organization stays secure in the modern era. These can range from internal conflicts to funding issues to the workplace culture.

Here are a few ways that senior executives can work together to minimize cybersecurity-related risks:

Train employees on security best practices

While many cyber threats come from sophisticated attacks – which require sophisticated cyber defenses to counteract – many more come from employees themselves.

For instance, phishing attacks are attacks that use deception to acquire sensitive information, such as passwords or financial information. These types of attacks can occur regardless of how sophisticated a company’s cyber defenses are – after all, they exploit people, not IT systems. 

Employee training can significantly reduce risks such as these, which will only become more common as people continue to work from home.

Clarify, standardize, and document the responsibilities of IT leaders

A risk management framework is a good place to start. These frameworks are designed to systematically:

  • Assess and categorize risks
  • Develop standardized risk management procedures
  • Implement and monitor those procedures

In IT, these types of frameworks can significantly reduce uncertainty around risks, while also streamlining risk management procedures.

Become proactive instead of reactive

Since the threat landscape moves so quickly, security professionals need to stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and focus on detecting threats before they occur – not reacting to them after the fact.

By implementing cutting-edge defenses before they are needed, IT security leaders can minimize risks of an attack.

AI-powered cyber defenses, for example, can proactively analyze systems and predict attacks before they occur.

Focus on well-being

Though at first glance this may seem like an issue unrelated to cybersecurity, burnout can actually become a problem for security workers and, as a consequence, their organizations. 

According to research from Nominet, for instance:

  • 88% of CISOs remained moderately or tremendously stressed out
  • 48% said stress has a detrimental impact on their mental health
  • 31% said stress impacted their ability to do their job

There are, of course, many strategies for reducing stress and the chances of burnout, from meditation to corporate well-being programs to improving the business environment.

The important point here is to experiment with different approaches and reduce stress as much as possible – after all, employees who are less stressed will be happier and more productive.

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