What does a Chief Security Officer do?

Cassie L. Damewood

A chief security officer is responsible for the overall security of a company or corporation. He may work in private, public, profit or non-profit sectors. His job normally requires him to oversee the security of the physical and intellectual property of an organization.

Chief security officers may be responsible for installing software and technology that prevents hackers from stealing sensitive information.
Chief security officers may be responsible for installing software and technology that prevents hackers from stealing sensitive information.

Depending on the size and nature of the business in which the company is involved, a chief security officer may be in charge of securing a few or many departments. In a small company, his job may include the protection of the work site and the firm’s private and confidential files. These files may be hard copies or electronic files stored on a computer system. A larger organization may require him to guard the information technology (IT) for many departments, such as the legal, communications or human resources divisions.

To be competent in his position, a chief security officer is typically expected to be well versed in a wide range of physical and computer-related security systems and structures. These generally include property protection systems, such as motion-sensitive alarms, voice and handprint recognition systems and closed-circuit video monitoring. The IT security measures often implemented and monitored by the officer are computer firewalls, password access protection, anti-virus software and embedded language and codes to prevent the intrusion of computer hackers.

The job of chief security officer normally requires him to train, manage and supervise a staff of protection specialists and security directors. He customarily meets with management personnel to ensure the overall security goals and objectives are being met. If new or improved measures are required, the officer is generally expected to research available options and present them to management.

If a breach of security occurs, the chief security officer is often the first contact of law enforcement and the company’s leaders. He is generally expected to identify where the security break occurred and offer insight as to how it happened. In the course of investigation, he may be required to interrogate company personnel to gain information on the situation and determine if they have any knowledge of how the violation could have occurred. If disciplinary action is required, the chief security officer is frequently the one who chooses and administers the punitive measures.

No formal education is normally required for this position, although a high school diploma or equivalent is typically required. Applicants who succeed in landing these jobs frequently have background in law enforcement or in the private security sector. Knowledge of security systems and IT technology are strongly preferred for those seeking positions as chief security officers.

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