Chief Information Security Officer

What is CISO? Roles, Responsibility, Career, Salary and Requirement for becoming CISO

Have you ever wondered what is CISO? What is their Job? What are CISO roles and responsibility? How to become a Chief Information Security Officers and what is the shortest path to become one. How you too can join the elite club of highly paid cyber security expert. If you are looking for answers to all these questions, this article is going to help you.

CISO – Defined and Explained

A Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is a top-ranking executive position in an organization. He/she is the topmost authority for handling security risks, sometimes reporting only to the CEO. It is a C-level executive position. A CISO, in layman’s terms, is responsible for every security measure in an organization. It is the job of a CISO to help the board of directors or non-technical members of the organization understand the security risks involved in their decisions for the company’s current and future vision.

A CISO’s responsibility involves:

  • Monitoring that the utmost care is in place to implement security measures against potential threats.
  • Evaluating if the security measure implemented are being carried out effortlessly.
  • Accrediting the proper third-party vendor transactions with the organization.
  • Maintaining the right professional business background to help the organization carry out its transaction swiftly with the right vendors.

A great CISO must have the ability to efficiently manage security planning, taking into account project requirements, risk assessments, and management point of view to implement domain-specific security measures. The leadership position is required to prepare the organization with the right tools, skills, resources, relationships, and capabilities to align with the business mission, governmental regulations, and expectations of the board of directors.

A Chief Information Security Officer has to understand the current and future security challenges that an organization needs to be ready for and implement the measures required to mitigate any potential risk. He/she can take on various tasks and responsibilities to tackle the organization’s security measures to safeguard it from any potential security risk disruption in the future. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India, has taken reasonable steps and advises every organization/department to have a CISO appointed to fight against security risks before they occur.

Role and Responsibilities of a CISO

A CISO’s primary objective is to identify any possibilities of current or future data breaches. His/her job is to take imperative measures to avoid and mitigate all risk factors before it is too late. If the CISO is not active and not trained well in handling security measures, it could cost the company heavily.

The Chief Information Security Officer’s duties include conducting regular employee-security-risk training camps and identifying all security metrics and standards. He/she helps develop secure and trustworthy business communications, chooses and purchases security products from safe and authentic vendors, ensures that all regulatory compliance and the organization agreements are in place, and enforces suitable security measures.

A CISO plays a very vital and essential role in an organization. The responsibilities of a CISO vary with the size of a company and its regulations. The first-ever CISO, Stephen Katz, took on the role of a CISO at Citigroup in the ’90s to fight against Russian hackers. Check out how he breaks down the responsibilities of a CISO in this CNBC interview.

To summarize, these are the main responsibilities of a CISO:

  1. Security operations: Security operations are practices that are implemented to improve security measures, identify and assess security risks, and mitigate potential security threats.
  2. Cyber risk and cyber intelligence: This involves having up-to-date knowledge of potential security threats surrounding the organization. A CISO must also help the board of directors understand what potential security risks are entailed in their business decisions and ensure third party risk management (tprm)
  3. Data loss and fraud prevention: According to IBM, the global average total cost of a data breach in 2020 alone was $3.86 million. Data loss is a matter of utmost importance. Organizational security measures are not “set and forget”; once the best practices are implemented, hackers try to find a way around it. CISOs should always be active in implementing new fraud prevention training to safeguard the organization from internal data loss.
  4. Security architecture: It is always important to check if the IT hardware and software are risk-free. Ultimately the tools, people, and processes make a security architecture. It is a CISO’s job to determine if the tools used are virus and cyber risk-free, if the vendors are authentic, and if the system for security measures is up to date.
  5. Governance: A CISO should make sure the relationship with vendors runs smoothly. There should be proper management for implementing security measures, and the stakeholders should understand the potential risks to an organization.

Qualifications and Certifications Required to Become a CISO

A CISO is typically a high-level executive who can lead employees, show top-notch management skills, and have an upper-hand knowledge of information technology and security. A CISO must be effectively able to communicate complex security concepts to technical and non-technical employees. CISOs are required to have risk management and on-site risk examining skills as well.

Several companies seek CISOs with an advanced degree in business, computer science, or engineering, along with having extensive years of experience working in information technology and security. CISOs are typically required to have an industry-level certification like EC-Council’s Certified Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO). They could also have a Master of Science degree in Cybersecurity, Computer Science & Digital Forensics, etc. You can check your readiness to become a CISO here.

Salary Bracket of a CISO

CISOs are a relatively new addition to the organizational hierarchy. Since there is a wide range of responsibilities of a CISO, there seems to be a wide range of salaries too. The earnings may vary for Fortune 500 companies paying the higher bracket and other smaller companies shifting the scale as per job requirements.

According to, the average annual median salary of a CISO in the United States is $223,403 as of February 2021. A CISO’s median yearly salary typically falls anywhere between $195,073 and $258,014, whereas it can go as high as $420,000 in top cybersecurity firms.

According to, the average Chief Information Security Officer’s base salary in India is ₹2,355,581/year as of February 9, 2021.

The Way Ahead for CISOs

Companies faced various difficulties like business disruption, employee layoffs, client loss, etc., in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they mustn’t neglect cybersecurity. Hackers are always trying to take advantage of weaknesses, and 2020 was no different. On the one hand, companies outsourced their work to increase profit and productivity; on the other hand, there is a vast array of potential threats looming if vendor authenticity goes unchecked. Ultimately, saving the company from a data breach and business disruption depends on its security measures. All this shows the need for a central managing figure to oversee all security checks and assess risk. A CISO fills this central authority figure in an organization.



What makes a great CISO?
A great CISO is someone who can proficiently manage the third-party vendor relationship, oversee the potential business risk an organization faces, and take measures to overcome it.

Read more: 5 Most Desired Traits of a CISO

Why do you need a CISO?
Today, when security measures are of utmost importance and businesses are moving to outsource their workforce, CISOs serve as an authority figure to manage all security risks. CISOs take the appropriate steps needed to mitigate threats.

Read more: Why Does Your Business Need a CISO?

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