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How a CISO Can Help Achieve Enterprise by Helping the Organisation Achieve "Security Objectives" A CISO is responsible for executing information security programmes which include security governance, risk & compliance (GRC) policies, standards, leading and coordinating security processes, procedures meant to protect the information assets of an organisation

By Remesh Ramachandran

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Having a CISO or Chief Information Security Officer can be immensely beneficial for any new startups, enterprise or an SMB (Small Medium Businesses) in several ways. It will help organisations prevent any costly litigation, regulatory or financial issues, and even save companies from bankruptcy in extreme cases.

Before deep diving into the title of this article, let's first get you updated with the basic definition of a CISO or a chief information security officer.

Who Is A CISO?

A Chief Information Security Officer or in short CISO is a senior management position whose bearer reports either directly to the CEO or the Board of Directors of an enterprise. A CISO is responsible for executing information security programmes which include security governance, risk & compliance (GRC) policies, standards, leading and coordinating security processes, procedures meant to protect the information assets of an organisation.

Why Does An Organization Need A CISO?

Let's have a look at some of the interesting facts, the facts on the table as reasons to have a dedicated qualified CISO:

Target Breach of 2014, which resulted in the loss of personal information of 70 million customers, data of 40 million credit and debit cards, resulting in the loss of job for both CEO and CIO. Target was later criticised for the "root cause" of the breach, which was not having a chief information security officer appointed.

Equifax's famous data breach of 2017 which resulted in chief security officer Susan Mauldin losing her position post the widespread breach and was at the centre of a firestorm of public outrage for not having formal training in technology space (She studied music as major at university)

A CISO also maintains regular communication in an organisation between top management and the security professionals responsible for the safety of its information systems. The reports will, at any given point in time can be accessed and analysed to see the current security posture of an organisation and also during an incident. This is something a typical head of information cannot do.

The responsibilities of a CISO are varied and many and required a dedicated and specialised skill-set which is usually rare in the labour market.

The Pillar of Business Growth: A CISO oversees the organisation's security initiatives and programs, supports in digital transformation, and he is the one who helps driving business growth by allowing the board and other C-suite executives to focus on business objectives and deep technology integration of cybersecurity.

A Qualified Cyber Security Expert: A CISO is an information security specialist who can help organisations' build-security-in', not only in your application, systems and networks but also an organisation's culture to ensure that everyone is aware of his or her security responsibilities.

Building An Excellent Security Team: He hires and guides security professionals with right aptitude, technical and quick decision-making skills, finds out the resource and skill gap in organisation's security posture and builds a team that can quickly identify, analyse and thwart a security threat from exploiting a vulnerability in the system.

Overseeing The Physical Security: Unlike CIO or CTO of a company, a CISO is more qualified to assess and report on physical security readiness and security related issues with regards to the security of information in physical form or in place.

Laws And Regulations: Interestingly in the ever-changing digital world a new phenomenon is taking place where in many countries the laws and regulations are going stricter when it comes to customer data protection and mandate the naming of a qualified CISO. So if you plan to go truly global in doing business, this is the time you must think of hiring a CISO.

Keeping The Board Updated: A CISO is a qualified person who understands the technical issue from the security teams and translates into a language that board or business people understands. This helps them in the decision-making process by assessing the priority and severity of the issue or incident. He keeps the board updated with the current security posture of the enterprise.

The Ultimate Saviour: A CISO knows and understands more about physical security, Identity & Access Management, Application security, Network security etc. He has a vast knowledge of various security domains that is very less likely in a person in the management hierarchy. He will have a holistic view of an organisation's security than anybody else in the enterprise.

Types Of CISO Services

Options Available To Startups And Other SMBs
It might be daunting to consider hiring a new C-level officer specially when it comes to finances, and budgetary constraints startups or SMB can have, but there are several economical alternatives available such as on-demand CISOs, contract CISOs etc.

Hiring A Dedicated CISO On Permanent Role

The CISO might not be a technology expert but is information security oriented, an experienced individual whose outlook is to manage technical security issues, monitor firewalls and so on. Though the most expensive option, on a permanent position organisation will have a dedicated CISO who is playing a significant role that includes coordination and analysis of security policies, standards and assessing related activities regularly.

Hiring A Dedicated CISO On A Contract Role
A CISO is a business officer who leads security issue specific to the business. For instance, customer information is protected by a dedicated person. If you do not have sufficient budget to allocate to hire a permanent CISO position at this stage, you can always choose to go for hiring a CISO on a contract role who will perform security assessments to identify the problems in the enterprise architecture and give you a prioritised list of issues to be fixed.

A CISO On Demand
The last type of CISO and the most economical one is that you can hire at a very early stage of your business is a CISO on demand, which is available for you as and when needed and can be employed when you are designing your application & systems or security architecture of your organisation. He will act as the strategic officer who helps in translating business requirements to achieve the mission and goals of the company when needed.

Virtual CISO or vCISO

The most economical option for start-ups and SMBs. This is yet another form of a CISO is a Virtual CISO or vCISO, also referred to as CISO-as-a-Service, is an outsourced security practitioner who takes on the role of a Chief Information Security Officer in your organisation and offers companies access to a pool of security experts and security practitioners on an on-going basis, generally part-time or remotely. He is especially valuable in the situation where small companies, start-ups and SMBs cannot afford a dedicated Cybersecurity team or security experts and costs associated with security tools and specialist expertise.

The conclusion can be drawn as "A CISO Will Help Achieve Organisational "Security Objectives" And Let Enterprise Focus On Achieving "Business Objectives" and make the seamless security experience for the enterprise."
Remesh Ramachandran

CISO | Security Researcher | Ethical hacker

Remesh Ramachandran is an ethical hacker. He has solved several sophisticated cybercrime and real-world hacking cases, and has worked for the government and various other national and international agencies. Remesh is currently working as a CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) for an organisation.

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