Traits of a CISO

5 Most Desired Traits of a CISO

Before now, the responsibility of guaranteeing that an organization’s technology was secure fell to the Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO). However, with the evolution of cybersecurity and the mounting value for security, most businesses now have the role assigned to an individual who reports back to the board.

More recently, it has become a standard practice for businesses, administrations, and non-profits organizations to have a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). The job description of a CISO has extended to include risks found in customer privacy, information security management, and other organizational processes.

Combining the CISO function with the IT team is no longer a standard trend. It is even better to have a Certified Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO), as they can adequately balance the act of deciding what is good for the business and what’s good for security.

Whether you’re an IT professional, a cybersecurity professional, or a cybersecurity enthusiast, if you want to climb up the ladder within your field, you should learn what it takes to be a CCISO and how to land a CISO job.

What does a CISO care about?

The Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is the high-ranking executive whose responsibility within an organization is to ensure the optimum security of the business information and data. Although, in the past, the role of a CISO has been barely demarcated, in recent times a CISO is implemented interchangeably with the function of a VP of security, CIO, CTO, and CSO. This suggests a broadened responsibility within the organization.

A CISO also supervises security technologies, oversee the incident response team, promptly administrates the creation and application of policies and procedures, and also launch suitable standards and controls. The CISO is considered the peak of the IT profession and is given a lot of importance within the IT security department.

What makes a good CISO?

A good CISO is also able to make and implement risk-based business decisions. It is not enough to make these risk-based decisions, the CISO must also be able to communicate this to the board. You need to strategize a means to demonstrate how the projected modifications will explain the cost it will invite, and better still how it will produce more effectiveness, productivity, and generate more revenue for the organization.

You can obtain risk management certification online. To learn more about risk management certifications, click here.

Most likely, the most effective way to comprehend the role of a CISO is to learn about their daily responsibilities. The control of a good CISO spread across the entire organization. The common responsibility of a CISO include the following:

  • Cybersecurity
  • eDiscovery, IT investigations, and digital forensics
  • Information privacy
  • Information security and information assurance
  • Computer security incident response team (CSIRT)
  • Computer emergency response team (CERT)
  • Information risk management
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity management
  • Information security operations center (ISOC)
  • Identity and access management
  • Information technology controls for financial systems
  • Governance risk and compliance (such as FISMA, PCI DSS, HIPAA, SOX, and GLBA)

For a deeper dive, checkout EC-Council’s CCISO program and training.

What is the difference between a CSO and a CISO?

The role of a chief security officer differs from that of the Chief Information Security Officer. The CSO is a high-ranking executive whose responsibilities encompass the whole security requirements and challenges faced by an organization. Whereas, the CISO is saddled with the responsibility of constructing security plans alongside the organization’s objectives and security programs.

Given the ever-increasing network security threats and unique cyber-attacks, the CISO is becoming a more essential and significant position for both large and medium-sized organizations. Although most CISO has non-technical certifications, you need a security officer training and/or an equivalent certification training to have an extended technical prowess. This would place you in high demand and your compensation would rank with most C-level positions.

If you are an aspiring CISO then this session is for you:

What are the five most desired traits of a CISO?

A CISO must possess both technical and soft skills. Although some skills are more indispensable than others. Understanding how managers perceive the position of a CISO and their performances when they submit their reports back to the board will help you prepare for your journey into this field.

1. Technical Knowledge and Experience

One of the core traits of a CISO is their level of technical savviness. While business acumen is a requirement, top board members will only hire a CISO that can prove their technical prowess. This does not necessarily mean that you need the shrewdest technical skill to be able to land a CISO job. However, you need to have more than the basic knowledge about the technology and incident you want to handle. Being a certified Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO) is also a basic requirement.

Some necessary technical requirements include:

  • A CISO should understand governance risk and compliance assessments such as SOX, PCI, GLBA, NIST, and HIPAA.
  • Must understand, develop, and define network security architectures.
  • They should understand protocols that can manage firewalls, intrusion discovery, and intrusion prevention.
  • Have a sound experience with computer networking components, including DDoS and DoS mitigation approach, DNS, authentication, TCP/IP, and VPN proxy services. Communication and Diplomatic Skills.
  • Must be able to formulate an incidence response plan.
  • They can work with frameworks such as COBIT, ITIL, and ISO 27001/27002.
  • Must be conversant with Windows and Unix-like operating systems. They can also handle programming languages such as Java, Python, and PHP.

Ready to acquire a CCISO? Test your skills here!

2. Deft communication and diplomatic skills

The field of information communication and technology (ICT) is an interdisciplinary field that requires deft dexterities to be operative. A good CISO is an individual that acknowledges that information security is an endless business procedure, which necessitates both individual and collective inputs.

A CISO should possess first-rate communication competencies and should be able to handle diverse shareholders and other C-level experts within the company. The board wants more than an assurance that all the necessary security measures are implemented. Since they most likely won’t possess the same level of technical knowledge nor speak “infosec”, it is the responsibility of the CISO to successfully communicate the security needs and situation of the organization.

Communication to the board would include giving progress reports, asking for financial aids to ensure improved progress, guaranteeing that the organization’s data security aims and objectives are accomplished, and when necessary enlighten the board a new approach is necessary. Out of the entire communication, CISOs will conduct during their professional experience, the communication that will occur during a crisis situation or incident would be more critical.

You can read this whitepaper to learn more about incident handling.

3. Strong leadership skills

Being a CISO can be very demanding since there is no one-size-fits-all approach to security. More often than not, a smooth team effort means good security. CISOs occupy the leadership position during information security projects. They oversee the project from the innovation stage, coordination, and planning, to the implementation and administration of security programs.

CISOs realize that an enforcement obligation is required, but they naturally choose not to be perceived as the individual whose major answer is often a rebuff. The ideal strategy is to lead through influence instead of issuing strict proclamations. For instance, the CISO might launch a security officer training or a team of internal risk counselors who are readily accessible to assist other business divisions in conducting vulnerability assessments and draft functional network security policies.

Furthermore, CISOs should be able to join forces with the top executives and develop solid relationships with the many divisions within the organization. They must be able to enforce governance risk and compliance and handle all forms of regulatory requirements. This is what differentiates a control-centric relationship, which dictates commands and an influence-centric relationship, which influences others to manage the business’s information security vulnerabilities or risks.

4. Align business mission with security objectives

An impressive CISO knows that their position is not to direct the business but to permit them to execute their tasks in a rationally secure approach. CISOs are saddled with the responsibility of constantly balancing the act between what is good for business and what is good for security. Not only do CISOs need technical dexterities, but they also need to master business acumen. While it is good to have a tightly locked security network, if the business needs are ignored, the security may do more harm than good.

Great CISOs must demonstrate efficiency in security planning through their management approach, project requirements, and risk assessments, among others. Their strategic approach should align with the business mission, governmental regulations, and the expectations of the board of committee. When the CISO can see the bigger picture, their contributory position becomes significant.

5. Dedicated to self-development and security training

With the evolving environment of cybersecurity and cyber-attacks, CISO must be committed to improving their security skills and knowledge. The stakes have been raised by malicious hackers. The role of a CISO is to widen the gap between the activities of cyber-attackers and the organization’s security measures. Based on this, the CISO must continue to learn, relearn, and unlearn.

CISOs seek security officer trainings to keep abreast of cybersecurity happenings, novel compliance requirements, emerging technologies, and continuous need for developments. You need a CCISO program to turn you into a certified security expert in the field of information technology

About EC-Council CCISO: Certified Chief Information Security Officer  

The EC-Council CCISO program offers unified learning progression and certifies the CISO in the knowledge of, and experience in all five of the CCISO Information Security Management Domains. The five core domains you’ll be exposed to include, Governance and Risk Management, Information Security Controls, Compliance, and Audit Management, Security Program Management & Operations, Information Security Core Competencies, and Strategic Planning, Finance, Procurement, and Vendor Management. Visit our course page to learn more about the CCISO program. You can also fill our contact form and we’ll get back to you ASAP!

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