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As digital technology evolves at pace, businesses are embracing myriad transformation projects. But, at the same time, protecting against cyber-attacks has raced up the agenda. Security specialists have grown in stature from high-end consultants to executive leaders working across every part of a business. In today’s world, the role of a chief information security officer (CISO) is pivotal. It hasn’t always been this way, of course. CISOs have spent years calling for more to be spent on security. But, in many cases, when a business suffered a cyber-attack, the executive leadership team would ask: ‘Why didn’t we prevent it?’ Then the penny dropped, and they realised the CISO was right all along. In the past three years, however, expertise, communication and leadership skills have come together. A new generation of security leaders has emerged, and they are tackling one of the biggest challenges faced by businesses today. CISOs have, quite rightly, earned their seat at the boardroom table.
Communication, knowledge and proactivity
Here are three reasons why it’s crucial to have a CISO on the board. One, they can directly communicate security matters; two, they understand how security impacts every part of a business; three, they can instil a proactive approach among their colleagues.
- If a CISO is on the board, they can directly communicate what is happening in the business. If they aren’t, security matters can get lost in translation. Security is a technical subject, and it needs to be explained in a way executive teams understand. A CISO is the best person to communicate the latest regulations, for example: where a business stands, what it should do next, and the pros and cons of these choices. But if messages are passed on from others, the nuances can get lost. A CISO in the boardroom will certainly improve the quality of security-related decisions.
- A CISO also understands how security is changing; they are mindful of the evolving nature of the industry and the complexity of cyber threats. For example, they can help an HR director understand the security implications of new software, or a chief financial officer concerned about protecting financial data. A CISO can share the latest insight with c-suite colleagues and help everyone to see the bigger picture; they can help others consider security in their own departments.
- A CISO takes care of the present state of a business, but they are focussed on the future, too. They are constantly monitoring systems, but they are also developing policies, training plans and updates. In the boardroom, they can help everyone take a proactive approach to security, because their vision will influence others. For example, executive leaders are more likely to improve their security posture before the business is attacked. A proactive approach is much better than a reactive one when things go wrong.
The modern CISO
A modern CISO is someone with deep technical expertise who can communicate to every department. They are skilled leaders, influencing the strategic decisions of their c-suite colleagues, and those using technology every day. Their role impacts everyone; their specialist knowledge helps to protect against the devasting impacts of a cyber-attack.
In the future, more CISOs will combine business acumen and technical skills. Some will even report directly to the chief executive, reflecting how important their role has become. One thing is for sure, they won’t be the lone voice in the corner asking for more budget; they will be a trusted adviser in the boardroom, influencing strategic decisions.
Hiren Joshi is currently working as a Branch Director with Robert Half based out of Toronto, ON. He has been with Robert Half for more than 7 years and has more than 15+ years of IT recruitment experience.