Technical expertise can only take you so far. Today’s CISO also needs to understand how the business of their organization works to earn a seat at the executive table.
The majority of presentations and conversations at security-related conferences revolve around technology, certifications, and policies; it’s often rare to hear security people talk about the factors that contribute to revenue in their business.
Even though being a security professional is the topmost criteria for getting hired, being a business leader is something the CISOs must learn to be recognized as a member of the executive team.
Executives perceive CISOs as technology experts and do not think they can participate in business conversations. The last few decades have seen CISOs fight for their place in the executive leadership team, but often they have not done the background work to take advantage of this opportunity.
On a day to day basis CISOs deal with General Data Protection Regulation, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or the Payment Card Industry . But what about other business situations, such as competition risks, market risks, political risks, inflation risks and operational risks?
Business leaders think about it every day and CISOs don’t need to be experts, but it is of utmost importance to be familiar with these discussions. It is necessary for CISOs to be familiar with the basics of how the company makes money to properly evaluate the security program that is right for them.
When a security executive with vision truly understands the business, the security program will be tailored to what is significant to the company. Having a security program that’s agile enough to track how the business is growing, monitor and respond to market changes can provide true and appropriate risk mitigation.
Understanding the business will make security programs more meaningful to executives and executives will value and respect security more because the link to the business is clear. This is how the CISO sits at the executive table.
CISOs have to realise in order to be of value, they must rise above the different domains of business and technology. This hybrid of business and technical skill is key to shaping the security leaders of the future.
The business landscape is rapidly evolving. In response, organizations require CISOs to take a more dominant and strategic role. The essence of it is to move beyond the role of enforcers and compliance monitors to integrate better with the business, manage information risks more strategically and move towards a culture of shared cyber risk ownership across the organization.
The demands on CISOs and organizational leaders will grow as cyber threats evolve with technological advancement. The significance of fostering an environment of risk awareness, security, and shared ownership of cyber risk and cyber resilience will keep growing.
CISOs with the ability to step beyond a tactical and technical level will more likely gain credibility and support among leaders across the organization, including board members and business unit leaders.
By earning a seat at the leadership table, helping instil a shared sense of responsibility for cyber risk management, providing counsel on how organizational leaders and employees can meet that responsibility, CISOs can become the key drivers to the strategic security organization.