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Global Security: Security Opens Borders

Sep 30, 20043 mins
IT LeadershipIT StrategySecurity

A world of risk is also a world of economic opportunities. The challenge for CSOs is to help their companies balance the two.

Overseas markets are tempting because that’s where the fastest growth is. But global business is tricky business. Take, for example, the dilemma of the CSO of a Fortune 500 food-industry company, who says, “There are countries where being aggressive [about branding] might draw unwanted attention. We’ve taken down our logo from a number of facilities overseas, and I know many of my peers have done the same at their companies.”

To reap the rewards of those high-growth markets, your company must get security right. In that light, the CSO is a crucial player in crossing the borders to worldwide economic opportunity. But when you talk to your CEO about taking down the company’s logos, he won’t feel like you’re throwing open the door to prosperity. Therefore, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly, nor one that invites a one-size-fits-all edict from corporate headquarters. In which specific countries does the risk created by putting your logo on a corporate warehouse outweigh the benefits?

That, in the proverbial nutshell, is the challenge of the Global CSO. From country to country, you’ll find different risks, different regulatory requirements, different cultural expectations. CSOs need to understand those things in great detail and know which mitigation strategies are allowable and desirable in each local context to combat each specific kind of threat. Getting it all right is going to require a witch’s brew of business knowledge, security experience, local information sources, metrics and intuition. But perhaps most of all, it will require discussion. Lots and lots of discussion. “We give advice every single day where it’s like: ‘If you do this, it will probably save the company money,'” says the food-industry CSO. “What I’m finding is, with our number of countries and facilities, we have to hold case-by-case discussions. It’s very difficult to create blanket [worldwide] security policies. So we’ve published guidelines and best practices, and how our business units choose to implement those things is up to them.

“We give them the best information we can, and they take it and knit it into their environment.”

This special issue of CSO delves into broad themes of securing global commerceprinciples for limiting loss in the supply chain, how law enforcement agencies around the world are forging cooperative structures, and how to educate executives and other employees to minimize the dangers of travel to risky locales. But it also details the specific threats and challenges of various countries. We hope these stories will contribute to the discussions that are sure to continue at your own business, as you seek to build profitable and safe worldwide operations.

-Derek Slater