The overarching goal for a CISO is to protect the organization’s information and assets from security threats and vulnerabilities. A typical day might involve managing and overseeing the organization’s security operations and strategies. Overseeing the implementation of security protocols and technologies, monitoring network and data security, and responding to security breaches or incidents.
The CISO is also charged with developing and implementing security policies and procedures, training employees on security best practices, and staying up to date on the latest security threats and trends and continuously assess and improve the organization’s security posture. Additionally, the CISO may spend time collaborating with other members of the organization’s leadership team and working with external partners and vendors to ensure the security of the organization’s systems and data. Ultimately, the CISO’s primary goal is to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the organization’s information and systems.
The strength or performance of a cybersecurity program is often measured in terms of the organization’s ability to protect its information and assets from security threats and vulnerabilities. Common metrics include the number and severity of security breaches or incidents, the effectiveness (read awareness, adherence, conformance, # of exceptions) of security policies and procedures, the level of employee awareness and compliance with security best practices, and the organization’s overall security posture.
To achieve a high performing program, a CISO needs to have:
In addition, a CISO’s success and the success of the cybersecurity program will be much greater if he/she is able to align the organization’s security strategy with its business goals and objectives and build strong relationships with other members of the leadership team and coalitions with other departments or external partners.
As with most leadership positions, The CISO should be mindful of potential challenges and pitfalls that may be encountered. For example:
The CISO is sometime but not always part of the organization’s leadership team and may receive support from other members of the leadership team, including the CEO, CIO, and CTO. The CISO is typically supported by a team of security professionals who help with implementing and managing security practices and technologies. Being supported by the company’s employees, or at least trusted, is sometimes overlooked. It can be very tough to implement practices without the support of the staff in the company.
As a friend of mine used to say: “You don’t have to play the game, but you gotta know the rules.” So last but not least, a smart CISO will often have a cast of characters outside the company, which includes external partners, vendors, and trusted advisors, who provide security-related services and technologies but more importantly, critical advice. The trusted advisors serve the ever-important role of being a sounding board and resource for the CISO’s internal political game of getting budget, staff or even an office with a window!
Today’s successful CISO is a business savvy and strong leader with a sufficient amount of technical expertise and knowledge (or sidekicks) and with the ability to think strategically and adapt to changing circumstances and maybe most importantly, excellent communication skills.
Stig Ravdal is the President & Founder of Ravdal, Inc., a leading cybersecurity strategy and solutions company. He is widely considered an expert in the field and is available for speaking engagements.