Build a Stronger Security Culture with a BISO

February 1, 2022 | By IANS Faculty

The Business Information Security Officer (BISO) serves as a trusted security advisor to the lines of business in an organization. A liaison between groups, the BISO translates business priorities to the security team, helps the business understand security policies and communicates metrics to senior leadership. Still a relatively new and slightly controversial discipline in cybersecurity, the BISO role can be challenging because many organizations don’t understand how to make the role work and may not feel it is necessary.

BISO roles are coming into focus now as CISO roles continue to shift from significantly technical to a strategic function with a broader business perspective to navigate a complicated risk and regulation landscape. 

This piece explains why the BISO role is important, the skills BISOs need for success and how to effectively integrate the BISO into an organization. 

Does Your Organization Need a BISO? 

BISOs are beneficial in organizations that have specific business units with differing goals or customer bases. This includes large multi-unit companies, or organizations functioning as a collection of businesses, but with separate operations, regulations and markets. Many industries like financial services, insurance and manufacturing operate in a risk-filled environment,  which is why cybersecurity should be viewed as a risk management function.

What Makes a BISO Role Effective? 

When structured and integrated correctly into the information security and business groups, the BISO can be a valuable resource. However, if the BISO role has accountability but no responsibility or authority, then the role can be perceived as unproductive and create strained relationships.  The security team, business execs and leadership should be included in the role development process to collaborate on what each group needs for the role.


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Checklist for BISO Success

In partnership, BISOs and CISOs work together to interact more with leadership at the strategic level. Effective BISOs can help integrate security smoothly into business processes, sensitive data assets and employee best practices. 

  1. Excellent communication skills – BISOs must speak to both groups using their own language, translating security and business principles to each group while building strong relationships along the way. This ensures leadership is educated and employees stay informed about potential threats and best practices.
  2. Executive presence – BISOs engage with the board and leadership clearly to negotiate and influence.  BISOs should be able to explain how security investment decisions help the bottom line and mitigate security risk to the organization.  
  3. Understand both business and security - BISOs should possess broad security and strategic knowledge to work cross-functionally.  Collaboration is key, along with knowing how to invite the right people to the right meetings.  BISOs can help change the organization mindset to consider security as part of almost every business decision and vice versa. 
  4. Strategic problem-solving – BISOs must possess skills in both business intelligence and strategic thinking, as well as the ability to identify critical issues and provide innovative problem-solving.
  5. Risk mitigation management skills – BISOs understand and stay focused on risk mitigation for business enablement. This includes risk identification, risk acceptance, solution development and risk mitigation implementation support. 
  6. Clear business metrics – BISOs must have awareness of customer-facing business services and value to stay focused on metrics that have meaning and relevance to business leadership.

READ: The BISO Role: Where Business Meets Security

BISOs Build Stronger Security and Minimize Risk 

If effectively empowered and aligned, BISOs openly support the CISO and the business, enforcing a strong security culture. BISOs fill and bridge gaps, providing seasoned cybersecurity leadership. They speak the right language, minimizing risk for the business, employees and customers. 

Ultimately, communication skills and relationship-building are keys to BISO success, enabling collaboration with different functional groups. Each function has different needs, so BISOs must speak directly to them.

Although reasonable efforts will be made to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the information contained in our blog posts, no liability can be accepted by IANS or our Faculty members for the results of any actions taken by individuals or firms in connection with such information, opinions, or advice.

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