Security experts in high demand at major US companies

Big companies including JPMorgan Chase and Pepsi are bringing on chief information security officers to limit their exposure to major hacks.

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The recent rash of corporate hacks has scared major companies into investing more into security experts, a new report from Reuters says.

Several big US companies, including JPMorgan Chase and Pepsi, are in the process of hiring chief information security officers (CISO) to build out their defenses against possible hacks, Reuters is reporting on Friday, citing people familiar with the companies' plans. Historically, the CISO reports to the chief information officer (CIO). Due to concerns over security, the companies aiming at putting CISOs on the same plane as CIOs -- a first in the IT industry.

That bump up the corporate ladder also comes with a serious salary increase. According to Reuters, major corporations have been paying CISOs between $500,000 and $700,000 per year to secure their data networks. CISOs hired years ago were brought on for between $200,000 and $300,000 a year, according to Reuters.

The rash of corporate hacks over the last few years, but especially the last several months, has prompted the companies to take a more serious approach to corporate security. Late last year, Target was hit with a massive data breach that left personal information of 110 million customers available to hackers. Mt. Gox, the world's largest Bitcoin exchange at the time, was hacked earlier this year, costing its customers hundreds of millions of real dollars.

The trouble continued earlier this month with eBay's announcement that its servers had been hacked, leaving personal information, including addresses and e-mail addresses available to hackers. The company believes at this point that financial information stored on its servers has been kept safe.

All of that, along with several other smaller breaches, have caused a massive uptick in black market activity. Earlier this year and after the Target breach, security experts reported that prominent black market sites were selling user information at a rapid pace. Depending on the quality of the information, user information was going for as little as $10 and as much as several hundred dollars.

The recent hacks suggest that many big companies are failing to take adequate security measures -- in several cases, hackers were stealing information for weeks if not months before the breaches were discovered.

In addition to hiring new security officers, companies are also eyeing placing prominent security experts on their boards of directors, according to Reuters. The firms, which weren't specifically named, believe that the board must have a better grip on security and the implications of it in the event something goes awry. That expertise will help the companies react more swiftly to problems and mitigate some of the issues already-affected companies have experienced.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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