The Importance of a CISO
In the world of technology, change is constant. As new platforms and software emerge, businesses must adapt to stay competitive. Technological adaptability is essential in all industries, especially the financial sector. Rapid changes in technology can profoundly impact how customers interact with banks and other institutions and how they transact with business. Therefore, companies employing cutting-edge technologies must have a comprehensive information security strategy to protect their data and customers.
Unfortunately, many organizations are still not taking information security seriously enough. A recent Security Magazine study found that over 45% of businesses do not have a CISO on staff (Security Magazine, 2021). This lack of preparedness could have severe consequences for companies and their customers later. All businesses—regardless of size or industry—should prioritize information security. That means having a CISO on board to help spearhead efforts to keep data safe.
What Is the Role of a CISO?
CISO stands for Chief Information Security Officer. They are responsible for planning, implementing, and overseeing an organization’s security posture, including physical and cybersecurity (Fruhlinger, 2021). CISOs ensure that an organization’s data and infrastructure are protected from threats and are responsible for developing and implementing security policies and procedures, as well as overseeing the work of security staff. They also work closely with other executives to ensure security is integrated into all aspects of the business.
What Attributes Does a CISO Need?
To be an effective CISO, strategic thinking and effective communication skills, paired with strong technical background, are imperative. They must also work well with others and think outside the box to design creative solutions to problems.
Typically, they wear many hats and adapt to different situations, so working well under pressure and making quick decisions are essential. They must also think on their feet and devise solutions to possible problems.
CISOs must work with various people to be effective in their role, including other security team members, employees from different departments, and all other third parties.
They should be well-versed in different security technologies and understand how they work. CISOs must also grasp networking concepts and troubleshoot various types of security issues.
Lastly, CISOs must take responsibility for their actions and be accountable for their decisions. They must ensure the security team is doing its job and that the organization’s data is safe. CISOs must also be able to report to the Board of Directors and other senior management on the state of the organization’s security.
What Are a CISO’s Job Responsibilities?
A CISO’s responsibilities can be broadly divided into two main categories: security strategy and implementation and security operations.
Regarding security strategy, the CISO’s responsibility covers development and implementation, which includes working with senior management to identify and assess security risks and developing plans to mitigate these risks (Fruhlinger, 2021). In addition, they must ensure that the organization’s security posture is aligned with its business objectives.
CISO responsibilities also include overseeing the organization’s day-to-day security operations, managing security incidents, monitoring security alerts and vulnerabilities, and verifying that security controls are effective. Plus, the CISO is responsible for developing and maintaining security policies and procedures.
Do All Organizations Need a CISO?
With the increase in cyberattacks and data breaches, more organizations recognize the importance of hiring a CISO. Particularly organizations that handle sensitive data, such as personal or financial data. Although laws don’t require CISOs, many organizations choose to appoint CISOs to protect their data and reputation.
What Are the Common Pitfalls When Hiring a CISO?
The CISO’s responsibilities are vital in any organization to secure the company’s data and systems. However, hiring the right CISO for your organization may be challenging. Here are a few common pitfalls that companies should avoid when looking to fill this role.
1. Inadequate experience or qualifications
One of the most common pitfalls of hiring a CISO is appointing someone who does not have the relevant experience or qualifications. CISOs need to have a deep understanding of information security to be effective in their role (Samuels, 2020). The CISO must have the ability to articulate this understanding to senior management and the board to gain their trust and support. To that end, CISOs should have several years of experience in information security and relevant qualifications, such as the CISSP or CISM.
2. Lack of support or resources
CISOs need adequate resources and support from senior management to be successful. CISOs should have a seat at the table when it comes to decision-making and should be given the budget to fulfill their responsibilities. Without this support, CISOs will struggle to implement adequate security measures. For example, CISOs may not implement necessary security tools or hire sufficient staff without the support of senior management, which can lead to CISOs feeling overwhelmed and frustrated and eventually leaving the company.
3. Failing to establish trust
CISOs must establish trust with senior management and the board to be effective. This can be difficult if the CISO is perceived as overly negative or excessively cautious. CISOs need to strike a balance between being an advocate for security and being realistic about the risks and threats that the organization faces (Security Magazine, 2021).
4. Underestimating the importance of cybersecurity
Many organizations still underestimate the importance of cybersecurity and the CISO’s responsibilities in protecting the organization from cyberthreats. This can lead to CISOs being given a low priority within the organization and seen as a cost center, not a critical part of the business. CISOs need to make a case for why cybersecurity is important and how it can help the organization achieve its business goals.
5. Lack of organizational structure
Companies must have an organizational chart that specifies a CISO’s reporting manager and their direct reports. The CISO should also understand the organization’s security posture and how their efforts fit into the bigger picture. A solid organizational framework minimizes ambiguity and bolsters a CISO’s ability to be effective.
6. Not having a clear understanding of the CISO’s role
One of the most common pitfalls with hiring a CISO is not clearly understanding the role of the CISO. CISOs are generally responsible for securing the organization’s data and systems, but they are also expected to provide guidance and advice on all aspects of cybersecurity (Donegan, 2020). CISOs need to have a deep understanding of information security and articulate this understanding to senior management.
Why Should You Get Certified in Cybersecurity?
The importance of cybersecurity is more evident now than ever before. As our world becomes increasingly connected, the need for individuals knowledgeable in information security increases. EC-Council provides training and certification programs that equip individuals with the skills they need to protect our digital infrastructure. Get started in your cybersecurity training today.
Security Magazine. (2021, November 24). | 45% of companies do not employ a CISO. https://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/96597-45-of-companies-do-not-employ-a-ciso
Fruhlinger, J. (2021, April 21). How the CISO role is evolving. CSO Online. https://www.csoonline.com/article/3332026/what-is-a-ciso-responsibilities-and-requirements-for-this-vital-leadership-role.html
Samuels, M. (2020, March 20). What is a CISO? Everything you need to know about the Chief Information Security Officer role. ZDNet. https://www.zdnet.com/article/what-is-a-ciso-everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-chief-information-security-officer/
Donegan, J. (2020, July 28). Issues to consider when hiring a DPO and CISO. ManageEngine. https://insights.manageengine.com/privacy-compliance/issues-to-consider-when-hiring-a-dpo-and-ciso/
About the Author
Shelby Vankirk is a freelance technical writer and content consultant with over seven years of experience in the publishing industry, specializing in blogging, SEO copywriting, technical writing, and proofreading.