Successfully onboarding a CISO in such critical times

onboarding a CISO

Transitioning between two CISOs today is difficult, as the uncertainty in the marketplace makes every minute of security business-critical. Hence, it is essential that CISO follow certain steps to make a seamless CISO transition happen.

In today’s dynamic marketplace, CISO plays a critical role in making their enterprises secure. As the attacks are continually surging, CISOs’ jobs have only become that much harder.

Add to the surmounting challenges, when a CISO leaves, the enterprises are at one of the most vulnerable times. Very often, enterprises’ nightmare related to their security seems to take the shape of reality during these transition times.

Even after a new CISO is hired, the nightmares won’t end until the new executive is well aware of the nuances of the enterprise’s security infrastructure.

Hence, a successful transition between the CISO is critical, and the existing CISO can play a key role here. They need to support the new one to gain the required knowledge and skills in as short a time as possible, which is crucial for ensuring a smooth transition.

Below are a few steps departing CISOs can take to successfully onboard their replacement:

  • Being supportive

CISOs should support their successor in their journey of understanding the nitty-gritties of the enterprise business. Both the CISO should have a one-to-one transition behind closed doors where each of them makes the other feel secure and comfortable.

The outgoing CISO needs to appraise the new one of the typical challenges they face, so he or she is ready to hit the ground running, instead of facing downtimes. A very important factor in this comfort level is that both the team members should be able to come to the same page, even if they are not totally aligned with the strategies adopted- to present a unified front.

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Developing a Transition Plan

As the transition progresses, CISO should work with his or her successor to develop a foolproof plan and set the expected timeline. The predecessor should keenly evaluate their roles and responsibilities. They must identify which part of the job description can be easily given so that the transition follows a gradual, structured roadmap.

The predecessors should help the new ones build a solid management foundation, especially in the areas of employee soft skills. They should make them aware of the management style, the team’s expectations and help them understand the factors that motivate the team in rough times.

  • Letting the new CISO know about business and security activities

Unless the CISO is a current employee of the existing enterprises, they won’t know about the exact details and lack the required knowledge to successfully carry out the roles and responsibilities.

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Also, CISO must help their successor fully understand the status of all their security-related activities, including compliance requirements, governance issues and the ongoing and planned security initiatives.

As the transition process will take the required momentum, but the CISO must ensure the established business activities do not face any outage or downtime. They should be given a clear picture of the strategic direction of the enterprise and the objectives that have been set by their c-suite counterparts.

  • Documents related to Practices and Security Tools

Accurate documentation of the practices and security tools is the best thing CISO can leave behind for their successor. The document comprises required governance and compliance as well as application and network architecture information.

Incoming CISOs have an immense challenge ahead of them while learning about the priorities for cyber security, in their new organization.  Clear briefs of the enterprise’s security programs, including the current state of the enterprise security, the current plans and initiatives of the projects, and the reasons to support them – can be their best ally to ensure a smooth transition.