New Delhi: Privacy is of utmost importance to the corporate world and companies are now adding an extra hand to their top-management teams - Chief Privacy Officer - to shield business secrets.

The role of this new C-level executive, the latest in the list of top-management titles like CEOs, CFOs and COOs, is safeguarding important business data from rivals and this position is being created increasingly across organisations, say experts.

The appointment of people for this new post has seen an increase of more than 100 per cent in the last four years, as per a new study by consultancy major PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

In some companies this position also goes by the name of Chief Security Officer (CSO) and is largely being seen on the lines of other C-level posts like the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Information Officer (CIO).

The PwC study titled "Changing Landscape of Security and Surveillance" in Information Technology area, found that the rise of 113 per cent in the appointment of CPOs is highest for any C-level position in the past four years.

The second-highest growth of 67 per cent was seen for the appointment of COOs, found the survey conducted among 7,000 CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, vice-presidents and directors across 119 countries.

The appointment and creation of this new designation is being seen as part of growing focus on data protection, prioritising security investments and creating strong practices to combat security and identity thefts.

 "The creation of the rank of the Chief Privacy Officer has seen a remarkable growth in the business world. These people not essentially hired from outside but are present within the establishments with a technical bent of mind," Executive Director at PwC Sivarama Krishnan.

The CPO acts as an enabler for all security related functions and measures in the organisation and ensures that the company uses latest intelligence for business promotion and creates a focused group in this regard, Krishnan said.

The study also underlines new challenges faced by organisations when it comes to creating in-house cyber security defences and protecting the brand, Intellectual Property and other assets of the company. (The study found, "Today's cyber criminals are keenly aware of the typical defensive measures taken by most companies and the current advanced criminal techniques present a bigger challenge than monitoring for malicious code patterns or changes to system configurations with intrusion detection

Meanwhile, a private detective who plans corporate intelligence for reputed firms in the country said, "Business firms and corporate houses have begun putting in place a CPO who functions as the nodal officer for securing and formulating all internet, electronic, brand related and communication policy issues of the entity,"

Requesting anonymity, the detective said, "This person develops a framework to provide secure and flexible model for the corporate entity and its employees to function. The CPO office also liaises with IT solution providers and government agencies like the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In)."