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        Jeff Orr's Analyst Perspectives

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        Digital Security Requires CIO and CISO Leadership

        With the growing threat landscape and increasing reliance on technology, digital security has become a critical concern. What constitutes digital security, and how is it different from cybersecurity? How are the roles of the chief information officer and chief information security officer evolving to meet digital security needs? To explore these questions, we must understand the impact of digital transformation and modernization and identify strategies for success. I’ll also set the stage for near-term digital security topics requiring further exploration.

        Cyber has become a buzzword applied to everything from digital to physical security, even though these disciplines have separate skill sets and supplier ecosystems. Digital security encompasses the protection of digital assets, information and systems from unauthorized access, use, disruption or modification. It also includes ramifications to an organization’s business goals and external factors such as regulation and economic impact. We align with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s definition of cybersecurity which addresses the technical considerations of digital security. Physical security deals with tangible assets of an organization including protection of the people, equipment and facilities.

        Digital security is not exclusively the role of the CISO; the CIO also plays a crucial role, as do others. The CIO focuses on the strategic implementation and management of technology infrastructure, ensuring that security is integrated into all areas of the organization's technology landscape. The CISO is often responsible for setting the security strategy, establishing policies and procedures and managing day-to-day security operations. However, roles and responsibilities should remain fluid in response to the needs of the organization. We assert that through 2025, over two-thirds of organizations will converge cyber and information security efforts into digital security programs to ensure effective governance and protection of physical and digital assets.

        The CIO plays a pivotal role in orchestrating digital security efforts that not only enable innovation and efficiency but also safeguard against emerging cyber threats. Organizations pursuing digital transformation and Ventana_Research_2023_Assertion_Security_Cyber_InfoSec_Converge_JO_33_Smodernization initiatives must consider security as an integral part of the process; it should be baked into every digital project, from the design phase to implementation and beyond. Digital security must be assessed and enhanced to align with current threats and vulnerabilities, recognizing that legacy systems may require additional measures to maintain a secure environment. By strategically aligning digital security efforts with the goals of transformative and modernization initiatives, the CIO establishes a resilient and secure foundation for the organization’s growth and success.

        The stage is set for aligning the roles of the CIO and CISO with the business objectives of the organization. Near-term digital security actions include:

        • Ensuring robust security measures. This includes prompting the importance of safeguarding sensitive data and protecting against cyber threats in all business strategies.
        • Establishing a culture of security awareness and education. Training sessions, best practices and a sense of responsibility among the workforce build engagement. This form of cyber hygiene creates a strong line of defense against cyberattacks and enables everyone to recognize and respond to potential threats.
        • Implementing a robust governance framework. Organizations that establish clear guidelines, conduct regular audits and involve key stakeholders in policy reviews build resilience to emerging threats and evolving industry standards. A framework-based approach creates structure and accountability for digital security.
        • Collaborating with other executive roles — such as the chief financial officer, chief human resources officer and legal departments. These relationships encourage digital security as part of the overall strategic roadmap for the organization and help align security objectives with business goals.
        • Fostering strong partnerships with trusted vendors and industry peers. Organizations within a common locale or industry can collaborate to strengthen the overall security posture and stay ahead of emerging threats.

        In future perspectives, I will take a deeper dive into the business aspects of digital security, including the financial implications, risk management and ROI of robust digital security practices. Organizations should understand the benefits and implementation strategies for real-time threat visibility and response. A digital security discussion would not be complete without emerging technologies like zero-trust architecture, secure DevOps and artificial intelligence-powered security tools that CIOs and IT leaders should prioritize to enhance digital security initiatives.

        The CIO and CISO are intricately linked in support of digital security. Digital transformation and modernization are both viable paths to enhance the security posture of the organization while enabling innovation and growth. Understanding the synergies of organizational roles and applying technological strategies to address the needs of a digital business enables organizations to navigate the complexities of the digital era with confidence and resilience.


        Jeff Orr


        Jeff Orr
        Director of Research, Digital Technology

        Jeff Orr leads the research and advisory for the CIO and digital technology expertise at Ventana Research, now part of ISG, with a focus on modernization and transformation for IT. Jeff’s coverage spans cloud computing, DevOps and platforms, digital security, intelligent automation, ITOps and service management, intelligent automation and observation technologies across the enterprise.


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