CIOs have long been responsible for keeping an organization’s IT and computer systems secure. While providing these functions and securing networks were the primary roles in the past, the landscape has changed and the future of the CIO now looks very different.
BYOD Brings Big Changes
One reason for this involves the BYOD (bring your own device) phenomenon that has swept the world by storm. Most of these are devices not issued by the company. This is a double-edged sword that many organizations are learning to work with.
On one hand, it means that IT departments don’t have to expend resources managing these devices and making sure they’re operating. Instead, cloud providers and other web-based services and third-party applications take care of that for them. Further, this can actually enhance the ability to respond to business challenges and ultimately make that business more competitive in the marketplace.
Bring Your Own Security?
On the other, the decentralization of IT creates perhaps too much freedom and flexibility. Chief among their concerns, CIOs point out that these apps, programs, and services can open up considerable security breaches.
This is because many of the individuals using these programs, services, and providers fail to install the necessary security controls to keep data safe and secure. For many, the decreased performance that results in doing so is something they’re willing to risk in order to conduct business faster and with fewer disruptions.
Ironically, not securing these devices often has the opposite effect and can cause serious disruptions and damage to the work that’s being completed. Knowing that users have gotten lax and that IT departments are not as active in securing a business’s data these days, hackers have loaded some of the most popular applications and programs with malware. This malware is designed specifically to steal data and make it available to the highest bidder.
Thus, BYOD ends up posing a potentially serious risk that CIOs are justifiably concerned with mitigating. It’s one of the greatest challenges faced by today’s CIO, and it must be balanced with operational strategy as well as company objectives.
Solving BYOD Security Issues
The solution requires CIOs to provide oversight that meets both the employee’s requirements and the needs of the organization. This means that CIOs need to create and set policies that are broad but firm. Further, CIOs need to establish mechanisms that make it easy to track threats and to quickly respond to breaches as soon as they occur.
At the same time, the CIO must take an active role in advising and maintaining ever-present awareness of operational objectives and security issues. Often, if employees are made cognizant of security threats and risks before they occur, they can and will take steps to protect their devices as directed by the CIO.
Call it proactive medicine, but studies have shown that this type of notification has had a positive impact and helped organizations prevent security breaches from taking place.
When everything is said and done, CIOs should spend as much time in the boardroom aligning their activities with the strategic objectives of the business and helping to manage the operational risks of today’s technological environment. This centralized oversight role is the best way to assure that security, innovation, convenience, and collaboration are ensured and allowed to thrive.
From that standpoint, today’s CIO is the greatest enabler of a business’s generative future.