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CSO (Chief Security Officer)

A Chief Security Officer (CSO) is the employee responsible for the physical security of a company, including its communication and business systems. The job of a CSO is to protect people, assets, infrastructure and technology. An asset can be a digital asset, such as software or intellectual property, or it can be a financial instrument, such as a trading document or currency. An asset can also be a physical asset such as a building, a shipping container or an electronic device.

The CSO provides the executive leadership necessary for identifying, assessing and prioritizing risk and directing all efforts concerned with safety and security. A primary responsibility of every CSO is to understand which assets need protecting and how to protect them. Because the CSO is involved in both the business and technical aspects of security, he or she is likely to be involved in planning for and managing disaster recovery.

Depending on the size of a company and how security is integrated into company culture, a CSO may report to the Chief Information Officer or the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), the Chief Risk Officer (CRO) or the Chief Executive officer (CEO). A CSO may also work with Human Resource Management (HRM) departments to train employees on security awareness and work with the Chief Procurement Officer (CPO) to research more effective security products.

In a large enterprise organization, the CSO may work closely with the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), the senior-level executive responsible for developing and implementing an information security program, which includes procedures and policies designed to protect enterprise communications, systems and assets from both internal and external threats. In a smaller organization, the CSO's job responsibilities may overlap with those of a CISO. If the company does not have a designated CISO or CSO, security responsibilities may be carried out by the CTO or CIO. Such responsibilities often include:

  • Establishing and implementing standards and procedures to prevent the unauthorized use, modification or destruction of physical and digital assets.
  • Overseeing technologies used in physical asset security, including IP cameras used in video surveillance, mobile and desktop point of sale terminals and biometric authentication.
  • Creating and implementing a communication plan to alert stakeholders when security events occur.
  • Creating and implementing an incident response plan.
  • Ensuring that documentation demonstrates the level of response and containment effectiveness required for compliance to internal and regulatory policy.
This was last updated in April 2017

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How important is it for the CSO to be aware of both physical and digital security threats?
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Will oversee and coordinate security efforts across the company, including information technology, human resources, communications, legal, facilities management and other groups, and will identify security initiatives and standards
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