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The role of the chief information security officer in the management of IT security

Erastus Karanja (Department of Computer Information Systems, North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina, USA)

Information and Computer Security

ISSN: 2056-4961

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




The aim of this study is to advance research on the position of the CISO by investigating the role that CISOs play before and after an IT security breach. There is a dearth of academic research literature on the role of a chief information security officer (CISO) in the management of Information Technology (IT) security. The limited research literature exists despite the increasing number and complexity of IT security breaches that lead to significant erosions in business value.


The study makes use of content analysis and agency theory to explore a sample of US firms that experienced IT security breaches between 2009 and 2015 and how these firms reacted to the IT security breaches.


The results indicate that following the IT security breaches, a number of the impacted firms adopted a reactive plan that entailed a re-organization of the existing IT security strategy and the hiring of a CISO. Also, there is no consensus on the CISO reporting structure since most of the firms that hired a CISO for the first time had the CISO report either to the Chief Executive Officer or Chief Information Officer.

Research limitations/implications

The findings will inform researchers, IT educators and industry practitioners on the roles of CISOs as well as advance research on how to mitigate IT security vulnerabilities.


The need for research that advances an understanding of how to effectively manage the security of IT resources is timely and is driven by the growing frequency and sophistication of the IT security breaches as well as the significant direct and indirect costs incurred by both the affected firms and their stakeholders.



Karanja, E. (2017), "The role of the chief information security officer in the management of IT security", Information and Computer Security, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 300-329.



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