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IT Manager vs. Security Officer: What’s the Difference?

Distinguishing between information technology and cybersecurity can be challenging since both fields utilize computers and information systems. While these areas have some overlap, they serve distinct purposes, and the differences between an IT manager and a security officer mirror these.

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What Is an IT Manager?

An IT manager is responsible for managing computer-related initiatives. Tasks may include:

  • Prioritizing technology goals: An organization may have competing technology objectives that cannot be accomplished simultaneously, so it’s an IT manager’s job to determine which are most essential.
  • Overseeing projects: IT managers frequently act as project managers, monitoring initiatives from inception to completion to ensure they stay on track.
  • Managing budgets: Technology can be expensive, so IT managers must oversee the budget carefully to maximize ROI.
  • Maintaining relationships with technology vendors: Not only is maintaining relationships with technology vendors important for acquiring the right solutions, but it can also make negotiating the best rates easier.
  • Implementing computer systems: When new equipment, systems, or software is introduced, an IT manager oversees the implementation process.
  • Monitoring performance of information technology systems: Continually assessing a system’s operational health helps IT managers optimize its performance.
  • Developing IT infrastructure: A well-designed IT infrastructure improves a company’s efficiency and prevents unnecessary frustration.

The role of IT manager requires strong project management, problem-solving and budgeting expertise, in addition to technical skills related to programming, computer science and network architecture.

What Is a Security Officer?

A security officer is responsible for ensuring strong information and data security posture. Responsibilities may include:

  • Monitoring the latest threats that could affect the business: The threat landscape is constantly evolving, so a security officer must be aware of the latest trends.
  • Analyzing threats: A business may be more or less susceptible to certain threats, depending on its nature and its security stance. A security officer must weigh these risks to determine how to protect the business.
  • Triaging and investigating incidents: A cyber incident can jeopardize data and put your systems at risk, which is why a qualified expert must investigate its origin and the extent of the potential damage.
  • Overseeing internal data use and access: Controlling data access within the organization can be key to preventing it from falling into the wrong hands, so security officers set up access controls.
  • Shaping the security architecture, including selecting appropriate hardware and software: While IT managers work on the structure of the system as a whole, security officers develop its security architecture.
  • Maintaining cybersecurity standards: Businesses frequently have standards in place to maintain compliance and prevent, detect, and respond to incidents. It is a security officer’s responsibility to uphold these.
  • Conducting risk assessments: Regular risk assessments help identify potential threats and how they could impact the business.
  • Conveying the importance of security initiatives to leadership: Since C-suite executives often view cybersecurity as an IT problem rather than a business problem, security officers must serve as educational resources to secure buy-in from leadership.

The role requires a firm grasp of relevant regulations and technical expertise in programming, system administration, authentication, DNS, VPN, routing, proxy services, DDoS mitigation, threat modelling, ethical hacking, detection and prevention protocols, and more.

Differences & Similarities Between IT Managers & Security Officers

IT managers and security officers work on different aspects of the same systems. While IT managers focus on system health and infrastructure, security officers aim to enhance its defences. Some overlap between the two positions occurs. For instance, implementing system patches or updates may fall on either role.

An IT manager may on occasion ignore or bypass cybersecurity policies to ensure that staff can remain productive (i.e. whilst working from home) and although this is important it leaves the company vulnerable to attack.

Both IT managers and security officers often lack the skills, time, and/or resources to conduct assessments and audits in-house. Small companies frequently task IT managers with cybersecurity duties to save on staffing costs, and even businesses with a dedicated security officer may not have the bandwidth to conduct regular tests.

Partners can help clients improve their cybersecurity postures by talking to the company’s IT manager or security officer about GuardYoo’s platform which remote compromise assessment and remote digital forensics. GuardYoo uses automation to make these processes faster and more affordable, allowing IT managers and security officers to focus on the other tasks essential to keeping the company’s systems at peak performance. Connect with GuardYoo via email or our chat feature to learn more about how we can protect your clients from costly attacks.