Chief Information Security Officer: A CISO’s Roles, responsibilities, and challenges

Chief Information Security Officer  A CISO’s Roles, responsibilities, and challenges

Every company must make sure that their data about customers, plans, staff, services, and much more are always secure. Particularly since the era of digitalization and online data storage, the company’s focus on data security has become a crucial part of its responsibilities.

To make sure that this job is done well, hiring a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) can be an option. This could be an important step, because as the online world is constantly evolving, so are malware and phishing software.

A CISO will make sure that your company is protected from those threats in the best way possible. Basically, CISO responsibilities include:

  • Cyber Risk Management
  • Security Operations
  • Cyber Intelligence
  • Prevention of Data Loss and Fraud
  • IAM (Identity and Access Management)
  • Security Architecture
  • And much more

By taking care of these areas, a CISO protects the company by discovering and getting rid of risks. One of the ways a CISO works is with software and systems like SAP: Therefore, in the following article, we will talk about a CISO’s role in SAP, shed light on CISO challenges and goals regarding his or her responsibilities mentioned above.

CISO – goals and aims

Providing a solid security base for the company is a good start. However, in the long run, a CISO must make sure to keep the system running, taking into account the company’s goals and strategies.

To implement a successful long-term security strategy, a CISO aims to:

  • Implement cybersecurity measures to crucial applications like SAP
  • Be aware of security patches and scan the system for possible risks
  • Map crucial compliance frameworks
  • Implement gained knowledge about cyber risks into the company’s security software
  • Prioritize tasks and report risks to the management

For this, it is crucial to understand what using SAP means for the company and for the CISO.


Managing the SAP system is one of the responsibilities a CISO has. Since some parts of SAP systems are not subject to constant security monitoring, a CISO must make sure these areas are nevertheless well protected. This makes CISOs responsible for SAP ERP, which is the SAP system that the company’s security measures are based on.

But there are additional challenges too, which include:

  1. Language barriers, since the German software company might use different terminology in their technology.
  2. The SAP software’s complexity. Other than a common system, which is made up of 60 million lines of code, SAP Business Suite contains 320 million lines of code – this is a massive amount of complex and technical information, which might make it hard to monitor the entire system.
  3. The technology SAP use since it’s different from regular operating systems when it comes to storage and exchange of data. This requires special security tools that must be implemented to secure the company’s database.
  4. The high cost for SAP-specific security measures might give CISOs a hard time when arguing in favor of a suitable security strategy. It must be found out whether it is more cost-efficient to fix a security breach or deal with a cyber-attack, or to implement SAP security measures right from the start.
  5. Corporate Structure. SAP systems used to be seen as separate entity that was not run by the IT department. This is sometimes still the case today, although a complex system like SAP must be implemented and connected with all areas of the business. To ensure maximum security, the SAP department must be closely connected with the IT department and common efforts must be taken to deal with cyber risks. This is often not the case, which makes it hard for the measures to work perfectly.

These reasons are obstacles for a CISO in his task to implement idea security measures. However, although SAP systems are difficult to implement and require smooth communication between departments, they’re an important step towards cyber security.

CISOs role in fixing challenges

To ensure a functioning security system, the IT department must work together with the SAP department and consider the company’s security a common responsibility. This way, the company’s CISO can make sure that risks are identified and removed. To ensure smooth communication, however, the CISO takes up the role of a communicator that mediates between the departments, shareholders, and customers, which is another of his or her roles and crucial responsibilities.

Conclusion: what roles, responsibilities, and challenges do CISOs face?

As the digital world grows, so do a CISO’s roles and responsibilities. By taking the role of the security expert, a CISO must know how the underlying systems and software work. Additionally, however, a CISO cannot only rely on his or her own efforts but is also responsible for smooth communication between the departments. Furthermore, CISOs are in constant exchange with the upper management, which makes them crucial mediators.

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Chief Information Security Officer: A CISO’s Roles, responsibilities, and challenges