In today’s world, the role of the chief information security officer (CISO) is generally defined by the responsibilities of accounting for day-to-day information security governance, ensuring compliance with respect to regulatory requirements and setting the vision in the organization so that it aligns with business priorities.
These days, many organizations have put some kind of data or applications — or both — on the cloud. Cloud-based services will soon host most of the enterprise data driving information security policies and governance. The concept of borderless security and cloud-based technologies is becoming more common in the enterprise information technology (IT) landscape.
Does this scenario necessitate having a chief vendor information security officer (C-VISO) who aligns the strategy for IT services provided by vendors with the business goals and compliance requirements of the organization?
In my opinion, the answer is yes. We do need a dedicated function within the organization to focus primarily on information security compliance for vendors and third parties for hosting. With cloud providers promoting security as a shared responsibility, the primary responsibility of C-VISOs will be to warrant that cloud providers ensure compliance and make documentation and evidence available in the case of an audit. However, with third-party hosting providers, C-VISOs have to ensure information security is given its due importance and that enterprises do not miss out on compliance and governance.
For example, if you use Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) hosting environment for applications, then AWS takes care of security at a physical layer, but it’s the client who is responsible for security at the application layer. This could include deploying host-based firewalls and intrusion systems, data loss prevention and integrating with security information and event management to minimize the footprint of the threat.
The commoditization of cloud-based services led to organization data leaving organizational boundaries. However, as accountability for the safety of data still lies with organizations, having a dedicated C-VISO to minimize the threat footprint and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements is still a good idea.