Chief information security officers are the cream of the crop in the information security world, literally and figuratively speaking. There is no higher aspiration in information security than to become a chief information security officer.
It’s a c-suite level position in companies, which means it’s one of the most important and prominent officers in the business, and it usually reports directly to the CEO. As a result, comprehensive experience, understanding, expertise, and hands-on skills in as many areas of information security as possible are needed.
Five steps to becoming a chief information security officer
1. Self-evaluation: Becoming a chief information security officer is not for everybody. It necessitates exceptional motivation, ambition, commitment, organisational skills, the ability to plan ahead, and a willingness to stay up to date on the latest industry developments.
Chief information security officers interact with most other divisions within the same company, as well as high-ranking executives from other businesses and government agencies, by virtue of their c-suite roles. To be effective, CISOs must have a high level of each of these qualities, as well as others. So, before choosing to pursue a career as a chief information security officer, be frank with yourself in your self-evaluation.
2. Education: Laying the groundwork for a career as a chief infosec officer, a role with such broad and varied responsibilities, can take a variety of forms. An undergraduate degree in any information security discipline or business administration is obviously a good place to start, but almost any computer-related or business management area will suffice. Security awareness for people and buildings may also be a good place to start. Of course, additional education is often, if not always, required of c-suite officers such as CISOs. Under the infosec umbrella, master’s degrees and, where needed or necessary, doctorate degrees in more oriented fields will better serve you.
3. Career path: Similar to schooling, career paths will lead to roles as chief information security officer in an almost infinite number of ways. There are far too many possibilities to mention here. Watch this CyberSpeak interview with long-time infosec professional and current CISO Joshua Knight of Dimension Data for insightful insight into how to better work toward being a CISO and how the role is changing now and in the near future. It’s also a good idea to study the EC-education Council’s and experience criteria for an applicant to be qualified to take the exam for chief information security officer certification.
4. Professional certifications: There are hundreds of professional certifications that can assist an applicant in achieving the CISO standard. It’s probably best to remember to include certifications in any specialty you’ve served in, as well as any ancillary specialties that may be relevant to the roles on your resume.
The CCISO certificate is the highest honour bestowed upon chief information security officers. OSCP (Offensive Security Certified Professional), SANS Technology Institute, ISFCE (International Society of Forensic Computer Examiners), IACIS (International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists), GIAC (Global Information Assurance Certification), and CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) are among the organisations that provide training and certifications. Basic certifications like CompTIA A+, which certifies IT organisational and technical support skills, can also be beneficial. ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association) provides two certifications: Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT) for information security managers and Certified Information Systems Auditor for information security auditors.
5. Stay current: As with most cybersecurity careers, it’s important to stay up to date on what’s going on in the industry. CISOs are in charge of determining how all of a company’s various infosec tools will be deployed now and in the future, so keeping their expertise and knowledge up to date with the latest developments is even more important. Infosec representatives must be members of any and all related information security trade groups and training organisations.
The International Society of Forensic Computer Examiners®, or ISFCE, and The Scientific Working Group on Digital Evidence are two such professional trade associations (SWGDE). SearchSecurity is another source of papers and knowledge on particular topics of information security. On its CISO Resources page, EC-Council also offers blogs, podcasts, and other resources from other CISOs. The Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) is a fantastic place to learn and network with other professionals. Infosec Institute provides information security practitioners with a range of tools and training. The ever-changing infosec world and the CISO’s constantly evolving position within the industry are discussed in this interview by IBMBusinessInstitute with Glen Gooding, Director of IBM Institute for Advanced Security.
What is a chief information security officer?
Chief security architects, corporate security officers, security managers, and information security managers are all terms used to describe CISOs. Some businesses entrust this officer-level employee with all aspects of the company’s security, including employees and facilities. In these situations, the role may be known as chief security officer.
Any CISO, regardless of title, is in charge of all information security operations within a company. Chief information security officers typically report to the CEO (chief executive officer) and are sometimes given a seat on the board of directors. CISOs are responsible for deciding the overall course of the information security services within their domain, allocating those resources among the different disciplines, managing all of the staff in their department, and coordinating with all other departments within the organisation. In interactions with outside players, CISOs are often the face of an organization’s information security operations. Dealing with government oversight, administrative agencies, politicians, and law enforcement agencies is a common occurrence in larger businesses.
Chief information security officers skills and experience
Employers are likely to ask for specific ability qualifications, such as:
- Significant business management expertise as well as a working knowledge of information security risk management, cybersecurity technology, and strategy are needed.
- Strong knowledge of Linux, virtualization, and networking concepts is needed.
- Awareness of industry security requirements such as NIST, ISO, SANS, COBIT, and CERT
- Knowledge of existing data privacy laws, such as GDPR and regional norms.
Strong knowledge and experience with Secure SDLC, DevSecOps, or security automation are needed.
- Capable of recognising and communicating the effect of information security activities on the organization’s business and profits.
Since chief information security officers are at the top of the information security food chain, there aren’t many certifications available for the job. Certified CISO, or CCISO, is the most sought-after software offered by EC-Council.
Employers are looking for soft skills such as superior interpersonal, written, and oral communication skills, the ability to work under pressure, being coordinated and versatile, and having experience in strategic planning and execution.
What do chief information security officers do?
In the twenty-first century, information security has become one of the most important functions of any business. The chief information security officer is in charge of all aspects of the information security activity, including providing guidance, procedures, and services. And, to keep up with developments in the information security environment at large, as well as enforcement, regulatory, and legal standards, the course and processes must be revised, reimagined, and revamped on a regular basis. The CISO must also be a motivator and a communicator of an organization’s information security direction and processes through departments and organisations.
Under the purview of a traditional CISO, there are five “towers” of obligation. Each of these towers needs a chief infosec officer with extensive experience and expertise.
- Risk management and governance (policy, legal, and compliance)
- Controls for information security, compliance, and audit management
- Management and operations of security programmes
- Main competencies in information technology
- Finance, sourcing, and vendor management are all aspects of strategic planning.
The relative weight and value of each varies by organisation, but these are the areas where you should concentrate your efforts in order to be competitive for a CISO role.
Chief information security officers job description
Any or more of the following tasks can be included in the tasks:
- Create a plan for an information protection programme that will fit and scale with the company’s development.
- Lead security evaluation and testing procedures, such as penetration testing, vulnerability detection, and safe software creation, among others.
- Develop and expand the organization’s security tooling and automation efforts.
Proactively recognise security vulnerabilities and possible threats, and develop processes and frameworks to track and defend against them on a continuous basis.
- External audits, regulatory enforcement programmes, and overall information management assessments are just a few of the compliance activities you’ll be in charge of.
- To the c-suite officers and board of directors, communicate information security organisational priorities, direction, and market effect.
External stakeholders, partners, compliance agencies, and regulatory and legal authorities are all consulted.
- Provide strategic risk advice and consultation for corporate IT programmes, including technical requirements and controls assessment and recommendations.
To efficiently detect, respond to, contain, and communicate a reported or confirmed incident, develop and enforce an incident management process.
Outlook for chief information security officers
According to the InfoSec Institute, there is a nearly three million cybersecurity specialist shortage worldwide, with half a million in North America alone. In virtually every discipline under the information security umbrella, demand for skilled workers far outnumbers supply. When we move up the organisational chart, the deficit becomes more pronounced as a percentage of demand. The scarcity of candidates capable of overseeing an organization’s entire information security operation becomes even more apparent. It’s an even more difficult problem to solve because grooming applicants for these higher-level positions takes so long.
For trained CISOs, there is no shortage of interesting, prestigious, and exciting opportunities. The National Security Agency (NSA), several major national and international banks, at least two state governments, and several large healthcare firms are among the organisations with open positions, according to a fast search of open positions.
How much do digital forensics experts make?
Chief information security officers earn between $105,000 and $225,000 a year, according to Payscale.com, with an average annual salary of $160,000. Annual bonuses, fees, and profit-sharing can add up to $350,000.
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