Driving digital transformation while also implementing a successful security strategy will be challenging for CIOs in 2017.

The UK government recently invested in a £1.9 bn cyber security strategy, which aims to protect the UK and businesses online by reducing the risk of cyber-attacks.  

The increase of cyber threats has led to organisations’ confidential information being hacked and stolen and executives are starting to pay more attention to security.  

CIO UK looks at some of the biggest security concerns, as well as comments from leading CIOs and digital experts on how they are ensuring they are keeping on top of security in 2017.  (See also: 4 challenges for CIOs in 2017)

Security challenges for CIOs in 2017: Retaining security talent

A lot is expected of CIOs, as Gartner challenged organisations in 2016 to tackle issues such as hiring security professionals to ensure data is protected.

According to the Spiceworks tech career outlook survey, 62% of IT professionals see cybersecurity as a key skill to develop for 2017.

CIOs need to hire and retain security talent who will be responsible for delivering a security roadmap.

Organisations should align a security and technology strategy by identifying ideas, costs and risks to reduce the risk of threats. This can help ensure security remains a priority for organisations.

Security challenges for CIOs in 2017: Ransomware

Ransomware will be a security challenge for CIOs in 2017 as businesses are becoming more prone to attacks.

The increase of ransomware has seen organisations block access to their business systems, encrypt files and shut down company networks until a fee is paid. Hackers target employees through search engines and social networks for sensitive data hoping to gain company and employee information.

CIOs should implement anti virus and firewall software to help protect users from potential attacks and prevent hackers from accessing company data.

Businesses should be aware of the current security risks of ransomware.

Through implementing mentoring, skills workshops and security training programmes CIOs can help restrict, protect and ensure the business is secure from any possible attacks.

Security challenges for CIOs in 2017: Restricting budgets

Budget restrictions have been a concern for CIOs and digital leaders tackling cybersecurity, and Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of IT Nicola Graham sees collaboration as a way to tackle the issue.

“I think being in the public sector the government need to make sure data and cybersecurity are governed and secure, particularly as we go towards more online services,” she said.

Graham, who is also the chair and Vice President of SOCITM, (Society of Information Technology Management), works on improving local government and the user’s online experience.

“Cybersecurity is definitely a big thing for us at the council and in Aberdeenshire. As a whole we need to communicate and collaborate more and get better at working across different sectors,” she said.

Security will remain a priority and an ongoing challenge for businesses in 2017, and as CIOs implement the latest security software, employees and executives need to be aware of the risks for ensuring a secure environment and prevent malicious attacks.  

Security challenges for CIOs in 2017: Password protection

A challenge for CIOs in 2017 will be putting password management strategies in place.

Indeed, protecting personal data will see CIOs investing in security tools to ensure the business is protected from breaches.   

As more businesses move to a cloud service to share information, CIOs should implement a system which rotates and validates passwords on a regular basis. (See also: 7 of the best security tools for your home office)

Password management tools will allow employees to store and encrypt their passwords while also preventing a loss of data. This will reduce the use of weak and reused passwords while ensuring a secure work environment.

Security challenges for CIOs in 2017: Employee knowledge and engagement

Cybersecurity will remain a challenge for CIOs as a lack of employee and businesses engagement is an ongoing issue.

CIOs should educate organisations that data needs to be secure, stored and backed up to prevent cyber attacks.  

Securing the business and educating employees has been cited by several companies as a concern, and

Telefonica 02’s CIO Brendan O’Rourke sees cybersecurity as a key issue for every organisation.

“I think it’s important that we make it very clear to the executive teams what is going on in security and their online activity,” he said. “It will demonstrate how attuned staff and executives are with technology and how aware they are with the security issues.”

The telecommunications company runs four security programmes in IT infrastructure and IT networks, helping CIO O’Rourke set clear goals and targets every year at Telefonica 02.

Indeed, some key areas such as password protection, connecting mobile devices and using cloud services remain a focus for CIOs by raising employee and business acknowledgement while also ensuring the business is secure.  (Read next: 8 steps for implementing a successful security plan.)