The role of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is to make sure a company is adequately protected against the changing, complex threat landscape.
We’ve outlined what a capable CISO should look like, and recommendations on how you can source one.
How has the CISO role involved?
Back when cyber security was seen as an operational technology issue, the relatively new CISO role was an entirely technology role. Fast forward a couple years, the role has took a dramatic turn and has become much more critical to manage enterprise risk. With the changing threat landscape, cyber security is now preserved to be a strategic technology issue and a business wide need. Whilst many businesses can run perfectly well without an in-house IT department, having a cyber security expert on hand would help prevent attacks and minimise damage and loss.
CISO’s are also expected to not only possess the fundamental technical expertise and skills, but also have a strong suit in leadership and understanding security priorities from a business perspective.
Investing in a CISO: Key capabilities
As a critical member of the executive team, these are the top capabilities a CISO must have. Today’s security landscape needs security leaders who have broader skills and capabilities, but not necessarily all technical in nature.
Obviously, the CISO should have vast security knowledge and understand the technical environment. By doing so, they can identify goals and executive security initiatives within the business when needed to make a decision.
Security knowledge goes beyond identifying potential threats. CISO’s understand that the security landscape is shifting and has become much more complex. With complexity, comes the need to be more agile and conscious.
A conscious CISO recognises that there are various solutions to tackle security issues, but, security solutions aren’t ‘one size fits all’. Not all security products and services complement one another, and not all solutions fit to a business’s requirements. That’s why it’s crucial that the security strategy is tailored to the architecture of the company.
Regulatory rules are constantly changing, but the most common pressure currently is data centric, focused around data privacy and protection, mostly accelerated by the pandemic. Rapid changes requires adaptability to situations and CISO’s should be able find the balance between data security and compliance requirements.
Security architecture plays a pivotal role in the life of a CISO. They should make sure that IT and network infrastructure is designed with best security practices in mind. As part of security infrastructure, a CISO should keep in mind that they are working in line with various security frameworks. Working with these guidelines, provides the CISO with guidance on designing, implementing and measuring tailored security solutions.
With businesses constantly evolving, look for a CISO who is also committed to their own personal development. Are they interested in acquiring certifications? Training and development programs not only helps the CISO but also gives value to the business as these programs will have up to date industry knowledge and information regarding emerging technologies.
Leadership and executive presence
There’s never a given time of when your business can be the next target of an attack and causes a wide spread disruption, possibly resulting in downtime and restricting business continuity. CISO’s should have the ability and drive to make tough decisions, particularly during unpredictable situations, but also in a timely manner. Whilst CISO’s oversee the entire security operations and decisions, a leader will be able to influence other executives by outlining and aligning the solution with the security goals and objectives of the business. When identifying and assessing threats, CISO’s should be able to translate the risks into a language that other executives can understand.
One of the most important factors for a CISO to consider is if they can establish a successful and effective security program by developing a process to determine a security strategy. Your CISO should align this with company goals and work strategically and proactively to prepare plans which are both short-term and long-term.
They should also work to determine how security investments can bring value to the business. Deep business knowledge is also key to providing business-centric advice on how risk management can help a business. With regards to security and business resources, a good strategy planner ensures that they are aligned with one another, in order to deliver the anticipated results.
In-House vs vCISO
Making a decision on whether to hire a CISO in-house or work with a virtual CISO (vCISO) from an MSP can be challenging. But if you look at this from a cost element, outsourcing is considerably cheaper. With hiring an in-house CISO, you’ll be looking at an estimated exceeding cost of around £77,000 ($105,000), it’s important to note that this is as entry level. Someone who is vastly experienced will take home roughly £118,000 ($161,000) annually. If this isn’t blending in with your budget, you may want to consider a vCISO. Working with a provider will give you the expertise and oversight of a CISO, but for a reduced cost and most likely on a monthly subscription.
Steering away from the cost side, you would have to factor in the recruitment and training element which takes up time and money resources. Working with a virtual vCISO means your provider will equip you with an experienced experts. Your recruitment team may not know exactly what your business needs and what expertise would benefit you as a business. A security provider is specialised in hiring the right individuals to support vast customer security needs, so they will tell you what you require and when.
vCISO’s are widely available and we know that cyber breaches do not come with a time stamp, so you need someone who is reliable and can offer 24/7 support. It’s also important to note the importance of adequate governance of cyber security policies. A dedicated vCISO will ensure that they are up to date with knowledge, based on evolving security measures, threats and vulnerabilities.
Cyber criminals are becoming more sophisticated and constantly changing their tactics and using new methods to attack businesses. To avoid being left behind and have a better chance of protecting your business, consider a new approach to security. Your current team can focus on prevention, but CISO’s understand cyber resilience, so they’re well aware that prevention alone isn’t enough to keep the hackers away. They will work with you to develop a full proof plan based on prevention, detection and response.
Looking to learn more on the vCISO? Get in touch with our security experts today and find out more on how sharing the burden of your cyber security responsibilities can help your business.