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Chief Information Officer Perspective

What is the role of the CIO in the event of a cyber-extortion attack?

Cyber extortion (Cy-X), such as ransomware, presents a clear and real threat to business innovation. As strategic leaders, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) have a critical role in leading digital transformation, and enabling the organization to do so securely.

The role of the CIO in cybersecurity is growing. According to the 2022 State of the CIO survey, 76% anticipate their involvement in cybersecurity to increase over the next year, and 51% say they are currently focused on security management in their role. Security and risk management was just one of five tech initiatives the study highlighted that would be driving IT investment in 2022. However, as a  business and tech leader, the CIO may be expected by their C-Suite colleagues to play all the roles required when a cyber attack occurs.

While these threats can come in multiple forms, the growth in Cy-X attacks means that most organizations will likely need to deal with one sooner rather than later. Understanding the threat landscape, ensuring resources are deployed appropriately, and managing any risks are crucial.

To help achieve that, CIOs need to enable the C-Suite to address three key challenges when planning for a Cy-X event.

Questions you will face

What is the worst-case scenario?

Every member of the C-suite will have a different view of what the worst-case scenario is. For the CIO, it’s likely to revolve around whether critical systems are affected and whether the business can still operate without its core technology.

Part of the challenge the CIO faces is getting colleagues to understand how vital it is to protect things non-tech leaders never see. This will be particularly important when securing additional resources to protect the sort of infrastructure that only IT is aware of.

How to balance protection and innovation?

The CIO role today is often about business enablement. One question they need to answer is how they balance protecting operations while still allowing the company to innovate and operate in an agile manner. With digital transformation remaining high on the agenda, being able to safeguard increasingly decentralized workforces and assets adds an additional layer of complexity. All while also factoring in legacy systems and the issues they bring, both in transformation and security.

How do we keep things running while under attack?

The challenge of how businesses remain operational while dealing with an attack is closely tied to that need for balance. The impact of a ransomware attack can last an average of nearly three weeks, depending on what’s been targeted, a company could stand to lose millions in revenue. 
Having the appropriate business continuity and disaster recovery plans in place is essential. However, recent research found that nearly half of organizations relied on infrastructure and plans put in place over a decade ago. This could seriously impact getting up and running after a ransomware attack and needs addressing urgently. 

Pinpoint your key challenges and actions

These are just some of the issues keeping CIOs awake at night. Effective Cy-X defense comprises several factors, ranging from proper preparations to being able to respond effectively.

To find out what those include,discover our CIOs guide.

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