The Role of the Head of IT & CSOs in Securing the Corporate Record

Lauren Mcmenemy
6 min read

Entity data and the corporate record are not the sole domain of governance, compliance and legal operations professionals. Far from it. Many roles across the whole organization will touch the corporate record at some point – from an ad hoc, once-a-year approval through to accessing it every day as part of regular operations – and when any data set is touched by so many human hands, the very real question of its security comes into play.

Diligent recently published a series of articles looking at various senior management roles in relation to governance – from the head of finance to the head of tax and beyond – and how those roles leverage entity data to ensure the organization stays compliant with global and local regulations. Having made the conclusion that each of those senior roles would benefit from using entity management software to streamline operations, it’s time now to consider the all-important security aspect and explore the role of the Head of IT and the Chief Security Officer (CSO) in ensuring the security of the corporate record.

What Do the Head of IT and the CSO Do?

The Head of IT in an organization is, obviously, in charge of all IT and technology infrastructure. Where an organization has a board-level role for a Chief Security Officer (CSO), sometimes known as the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), the Head of IT will work alongside this person to ensure the organization’s infrastructure is secure. However, smaller organizations may ask the Head of IT to take on both roles. For the purposes of this article, we will assume both roles are one and refer to the CSO. We will also be talking about the Chief Security Officer, not the Chief Strategy Officer, though the latter can go by the same acronym.

The CSO is the executive responsible for the organization’s security posture, often both physical and digital, and has the big-picture view of the company’s operational risk. They can be tasked to look after the security of personnel, physical assets and information in both physical and digital form. Needless to say, this is a role that has increased in importance in the cyber age.

However, the role is not quite so clear-cut, especially in the world of modern corporates where security transcends metaphorical and geographic borders. Some CSOs have within their remit the physical security and safety of employees, facilities and assets as well as cybersecurity, while others will focus purely on the technology side of security. In any event, the role will usually own or participate in business continuity planning, loss and fraud prevention, and privacy.

The CSO can be seen as a problem-solver for the organization, says one CSO, working with a diverse set of IT and engineering teams to envision, strategize and execute on a multifaceted program within a rapidly changing scope of compliance and governance. This makes them an essential partner to those looking after the organization’s compliance process and puts the security of the corporate record squarely in the hands of the CSO’s team.

Why the CSO Must Protect Entity Data

Once was a time the all-important corporate record was stored in a filing cabinet in the office of the company secretary. It was relatively easy to protect it back then – make sure there’s no duplicate keys and assess the area for fire safety, and Bob was your uncle.

Today, though, as the corporate record moves online – stored either in a local network or somewhere in the cloud – that protection becomes trickier, though no less essential. As a result, the CSO has its job cut out for them. Let’s look at a few reasons why the corporate record falls under the CSO’s remit, and why the CSO must both leverage and protect entity data.

Sensitive corporate information requires protection

Whether the corporate record is still held in physical form or it has been moved to the Cloud, it must still remain secure. The corporate record holds sensitive information regarding how the organization is run, its ambitions for growth, its financial information and more. It’s the top-secret file that every aggressive competitor would love to get their hands on.

This sensitive nature means the CSO must step in to secure the corporate record, especially as modern governance means that the corporate record is more likely to be stored online and to be at risk of cyber-attacks. We’re not just talking about data privacy regulations here – though the fines for breaches of data protection acts are increasingly huge – but also about protecting the privacy of the very essence of the organization.

Identity and access management bring headaches

As an organization grows, so too does its compliance footprint – but more compliance needs also means more hands touching the corporate record. Everyone within the organization will have a need to access different aspects of the corporate record to do their job. It might be the company secretary who must organize board meetings and file minutes, or it might be the in-house accounting team who must file annual accounts with local regulators, or it might be the responsible director who has signatory powers for a specific entity – all need permission to access secure information.

All these individuals do not need to access the entire corporate record, but the question of levels of permissions can prove a headache for the IT team. How can the CSO ensure the right people have access to the right things at the right time, without turning on parts of the corporate record that individual should not legally be able to see? Each permission level brings with it fresh security risks.

Integrations can prove a weak link

Adding to the permissions headache can be the number of different platforms used within an organization to handle compliance and governance. There might be a separate board portal, entity management software, communications system, cloud storage – all manner of different systems that all need to either talk to each other or be able to seamlessly and securely share information.

Without some form of secure bridge between systems the CSO puts entity information at risk of introducing human error into the chain, but they also must ensure that the bridge is watertight. In terms of cybersecurity, every link in a chain is a security risk, a potential door for a hacker to walk through and compromise the entire organizational infrastructure.

Securing the Corporate Record Through Cloud-Based Storage

With so much potential risk, and so many threats to business continuity, the CSO’s role in protecting and securing the corporate record is an essential one. So how can they ensure the right people get the right information at the right time in the right format, while also ensuring disparate systems are linked securely and that the entire infrastructure is safe from hackers?

Entity management software, such as that offered by Diligent, can integrate entity data from around the business into a single system of record. It helps organizations to centralize, manage and effectively structure their corporate record to improve entity governance, which, in turn, helps to better ensure compliance, mitigate risk and improve decision-making through an integrated governance solution.

It’s that word “integrated” that is music to the CSO’s ears. Diligent’s entity management software integrates seamlessly with its board portal to bring an all-in-one Governance Cloud, ensuring board decisions are logged and shared at entity level, while entity operations are accessible by the board. It also introduces secure messaging to enable safe and secure communications between board members, with total control over data retention.

Get in touch and schedule a demo to discover how Diligent’s Governance Cloud can help those in charge of IT security to leverage entity data while ensuring the corporate record remains safe and secure.

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Lauren McMenemy

Lauren has been writing about the world of compliance and governance for half a decade, but she's been a journalist and copywriter for longer '' that's 20 years spent writing for media, for agencies and for businesses across sectors including finance, professional services, healthcare, technology, energy and entertainment. As an editorial strategist, she has set the tone for national and multinational companies, and loves nothing more than getting to the heart of great stories. An Aussie in London for 13 years, and married to a true English eccentric.