10 Key Roles a CISO Plays In an Organization

In our previous blog, we took a quick look at what is a CISO. In this blog, we take a closer look at what are the specific roles and responsibilities of a CISO in an organisation. 

10 key roles a Chief Information Security Officer can perform for your organisation: 


Implementing and overseeing your organisation’s cybersecurity program

A key responsibility for a CISO within your organisation is to provide guidance on your cybersecurity program on a strategic level. Along with guidance, it is a CISO’s responsibility to make sure organisations remain compliant with cybersecurity standards, policy, regulations and legislation. 

Aligning cybersecurity and business objectives 

Another responsibility of a CISO is to make sure that the objectives of your organisation’s cybersecurity program are in line with the goals that your organisation hopes to achieve. One key function of this role is to ensure clear communication between security personnel and key stakeholders. For example, certain cybersecurity concepts and language need to be put in a format that is easy to consume for non-technical individuals. It is also vital that CISOs guide businesses on security measures that need to be put in place when new projects are started. 

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Reporting on cybersecurity 

CISOs play an important role when it comes to providing business leaders with intelligence on key cybersecurity trends. For example, providing the board of directors or senior executives with information like; the security risk profile of the organisation, any cybersecurity improvements in motion, notable cybersecurity incidents the return on investment on past cybersecurity initiatives. It is vital that CISOs provide upper-level management with a consolidated and comprehensive view of their organisation's cybersecurity posture. 

Monitoring Incident Response Activities 

Another key role a CISO plays in an organisation is during a security incident, it is the CISO’s responsibility to oversee how well internal teams handle a cybersecurity incident when it is identified. If needed a CISO is expected to step in and manage incident response, i.e. in a major security breach 

Crisis management is the responsibility of the CISO. During a security incident, it is the CISO’s responsibility to bring a level of clarity to the critical internal and external stakeholders. To be able to communicate information regarding incident response effectively to upper-level management, CISOs are required to monitor every single information security incident that occurs, however small it is. 

Managing business continuity and disaster recovery

Implementing existing business continuity and disaster recovery plans is another key role of a CISO. 

Security incidents can have numerous effects on an organisation’s wellbeing, for example, ransomware incidents can cause downtime as the business recovers. A CISO can play a vital role in managing business continuity in the aftermath of a security incident. 

Promote a culture of strong information security 

Another key role of a CISO is to promote a culture of strong information security, and to facilitate broad security cultural change across their organisation, the CISO should act as a thought leader, continually communicating their strategy and vision. This can be effectively achieved by tailoring communications to different parts of the organisation and being topical for the intended audience

Managing vendor relationships

There is a significant risk to your organisation’s information security via the suppliers and service providers you work with. A CISO can help ensure that consistent vendor management processes are in place to mitigate these information security risks. For example, a CISO can advise and assist employees when assessing supply chain cyber threats and provide them with an understanding of the information security impacts of entering into vendor relationships. 

Utilising cybersecurity budgets effectively 

It is also the responsibility of a CISO to use the allocated budget for an organisation's cybersecurity program efficiently and effectively. A CISO can help an organisation make decisions when it comes to investing in cybersecurity smartly. 

Overseeing cybersecurity personnel within the organisation

Cybersecurity isn’t the sole responsibility of a chief information security officer, he or she requires a team to ensure the well-being of an organisation’s information security. Therefore the CISO is responsible for your organisation's cybersecurity workforce, this includes plans to attract, train and retain personnel so that cybersecurity functions are being carried out in a timely manner. 

Cybersecurity awareness and training 

Finally, CISOs are also responsible for increasing the overall awareness of the importance of information security within the organisation. Cyber threats are constantly evolving with criminals adopting new and clever ways to trick employees, therefore it is the CISO’s responsibility to ensure everyone within an organisation is well informed about the latest cyber threats. The development of an effective cybersecurity awareness and training program and overseeing its implementation is another vital role that a CISO plays. 

To perform their role effectively Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) require a multitude of technical and soft skills, such as the ability to make quick decisions, lead, communicate effectively and build relationships. Additionally, CISOs must adapt in order to maintain pace with the cyber threat landscape and new technologies, constantly learning on the job and picking up new skills. In this ever-shifting cyber world, great CISOs require innovation and imagination in creating and delivering cyber security strategies for their organisations.

That said, there are several organisations that do not find it feasible to have an in-house CISO. Maybe it's because of the size of their business or budget constraints, but having a full-time CISO does not make sense in the context of their business. And in such cases, a virtual CISO or an outsourced CISO can be a viable solution. 

StickmanCyber's CISO on-Demand offers you a dedicated, outsourced Chief Information Security Officer to strategise, manage and optimise your cybersecurity practice. 

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