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What is a CISO?

A CISO is a specialized type of Chief Executive. Also known as: Global Head of Information Security, Information Security Officer, Chief Security Officer, Corporate Security Officer, Chief Security Architect, Chief Information Security Officer.

A CISO (chief information security officer) is a senior-level executive within a company that is responsible for setting out and executing a security program in order to make sure a company's information and technologies are protected from both internal and external threats. Their role has evolved from being focused solely on implementing and managing security control technology, to more of a consultative, business process, risk management professional. The CISO may also work alongside the CIO (chief information officer) to keep up-to-date with cybersecurity products and services.

Throughout the world, a growing number of organizations in business, government, and non-profit sectors have a CISO on board. These executives are in high demand, as they have a strong balance of both business acumen and technology knowledge.

What does a CISO do?

A CISO is an enterprise risk management executive who identifies, develops, implements, oversees, and maintains a company's information security program. This includes setting out procedures and policies that protect the company's communications, systems and assets from information technology risks and threats.

A CISO's job is to increase shareholder value by protecting the company's market share, revenue and brand. In order to win management support for security, they need to show how they have prioritized, modeled and priced risk. For each new project, they need to identify, analyze and evaluate the risks, measure the costs of securing the services and present viable options. This information helps decide how to allocate resources and also proves the CISO's value to the company.

It's important for CISO's to prioritize what's most important to the company and what generates the most revenue, then apply the appropriate security for that piece of the corporate world. They need to be able to develop a strategy for an overall architecture and delegate the technical responsibilities, all while still providing guidance and oversight.

A CISO's responsibilities may include:

  • responding to incidents
  • establishing appropriate standards and controls
  • managing security technologies
  • establishing and implementing policies and procedures
  • establishing information-related compliance
  • anticipating new threats
  • working to prevent threats from occurring
  • working with other executives to ensure security systems are working
  • conducting employee security awareness training
  • developing secure business and communication practices
  • identifying security objectives and metrics
  • choosing and purchasing security products from vendors
  • ensuring the company is in regulatory compliance with the rules
  • enforcing adherence to security practices
  • ensuring the company's data privacy is secure
  • managing the Security Incident Response Team
  • conducting electronic discovery and digital forensic investigations

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What is the workplace of a CISO like?

As information security breaches continue to make the front pages, companies and organizations need to ensure that appropriate protection of their data and systems is in place. Many organizations are considering how they are addressing their cyber risk and what the role the CISO can play within their business.

The CISO typically works with other C-level executives, and is aligned to a company's corporate strategy. They report progress and challenges, and receive corporate support should a ‘security event’ happens.

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Further Reading

  • 2017 Best Cities for Cybersecurity Professionals www.goodcall.com

    It’s a good time to be working in cybersecurity. As hackers continue their onslaught, stealing information in sectors ranging from health care to retail sales, businesses will need experts in digital security to fight back.

  • The Evolution of the CISO Role and Organizational Readiness www.csoonline.com

    If we look at the headlines surrounding recent data breaches, we might conclude that the role of the chief information security officer (CISO) has never been more critical to the success and sustained well-being of an organization.

  • What Is the Role of a CISO? www.infosectoday.com

    Andrew Wild has spent over 25 years developing effective, customer-driven information security, incident response, compliance and secure networking programs for IT and security organizations. Here he discusses the role of the CISO, how it has changed over the years, and what tools and skills a CISO needs.

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Should I be a CISO?

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  1. Take the Sokanu Career Test

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