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CIOs under pressure



Published: Fri, March 7, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

data security

Associated Press

NEW YORK

The departure of Target’s chief information officer in the wake of the company’s massive pre-Christmas data breach highlights the increased pressure facing executives who are charged with protecting corporate computer systems from hackers whose attacks are on the rise and becoming more sophisticated.

Years ago, the job of a CIO focused mainly on the upkeep of computer systems. In their largely behind-the-scenes roles, most of their major decisions centered on the kinds of technological innovations a company would adopt, when and how much to pay for systems upgrades and the creation and maintenance of company websites.

But the rise of computer crime in recent years changed the job description. At the same time, the surging use of personal smartphones and tablets in business settings has given CIOs even more technology to manage, along with countless new points of entry for hackers to breach their systems. As a result, CIOs have their hands full and a much more high-profile role than ever before.

Target Corp.’s breach sent shock waves through the profession. And CIOs from companies in all walks of business —from retail to banking and drug discovery— are using the breach as a rallying point to call attention to their struggle and garner additional funds and manpower to fight digital threats.

For a host of companies, the Target breach was a pivotal event that permanently altered the way they approach data security.

Many CIOs say they’re receiving more support, but they say the trade-off is that they’re facing increased scrutiny from their CEOs and other executives. If their fortress walls fall to hackers, their jobs will be on the line.

The number of potential ways to breach any given computer system has soared in recent years with the rise of smartphones and tablets, which along with home computers are used to remotely access company systems.


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