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CISO and security leadership roles are ever-evolving, and expand to cover almost every aspect of daily organizational operations, from software development to HR, accounting, and beyond. Companies need to entrust information security strategy to leaders
with skillsets that complement their unique IT and organizational infrastructure.
This piece details some emerging security leadership roles in the modern enterprise space. These roles expand upon the traditional CISO leadership roles in various ways, addressing some of the major challenges organizations face when hiring security leadership.
When it comes to defining their information security leadership roles, today's organizations have more options than ever before. To illustrate just how dynamic the CISO role has become, it's helpful to review the traditional responsibilities this role
READ: What Is the Ideal CISO Reporting Structure?
Organizations working to fill a CISO role often face looming challenges that have multiplied in recent years.
Almost every organization’s CISO role requirements are unique and always evolving. No two organizations share the same cybersecurity risk profile, making each CISO approach completely different. In fact, the position's responsibilities can vary
widely between organizations. It's not uncommon for an individual to be a star-performer at one company, only to produce lackluster results after moving to another.
These challenges are responsible for several innovations in the CISO role itself. Modern enterprises are increasingly looking for specific variations of the CISO archetype, hoping to find an individual with the ideal fit for their needs.
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There is no one-size-fits-all solution to cybersecurity leadership. It’s helpful to define your organization’s CISO role fully and filter leadership candidates to attract individuals better suited to the particularities of the organization
and open position itself.
Many of the defining characteristics of these variations that complement the CISO role are not set in stone. However, it is possible to draw a few broad conclusions about each, so that business leaders can better identify the security leadership role
that best fits their needs:
Unlike other security roles, the CIO is not a new role. However, it does have significant overlap with the responsibilities attributed to security leadership positions. The CIO focuses on strategic planning for company-wide information technology initiatives,
all of which include a cybersecurity element.
Growing businesses are likely to hire a CIO before filling the CISO position. As a result, information security initiatives will often fall under the CIO's purview before a dedicated CISO enters the picture. For this reason, it’s vital that the
CIO understands the responsibilities required for cybersecurity leadership.
To a great degree, the success of a new CISO can depend largely on how the CIO has prepared the IT security environment for them. A security-oriented CIO can pave the way to information security excellence and smooth transition for an incoming CISO.
The BISO role has evolved in response to the distribution of IT resources throughout various lines of business. There is a growing need to embed some responsibilities of the CISO role inside the operational decision-making processes of individual business
While a CISO may occupy their time developing high-level strategies that enable security performance, the BISO role is more tactical in nature. This leadership position bridges the gap between security
needs and operational business performance. It can play a vital role transforming cybersecurity spend from a cost to a value-generating asset in the eyes of managers and leaders throughout the organization.
In a large enterprise, multiple BISOs may be scattered across different business units and regional teams. In this scenario, they would report to the CISO or CIO and provide executive presence throughout the organization.
READ: Build a Stronger Security Culture with a BISO
The TISO specializes in developing, maintaining, and managing cybersecurity technologies and their corresponding infrastructure. In an enterprise environment, this role may include equal parts operational improvement and strategic decision-making. In
both cases, the goal is to optimize the organization's security tech stack deployment to meet its long-term strategic needs.
In most cases, the TISO reports to the CIO or CTO. It is a highly technical position that focuses on the granular details of how individual elements in the enterprise tech stack coordinate with one another. In a large enterprise with dozens of individual
technologies, this can be an incredibly complex task that requires significant resources and reliable leadership.
The DCISO is among the newest security leadership roles currently being defined and trending in larger corporate contexts. Since the role usually focuses on operational security for individual business units, there is some degree of overlap between the
BISO and the DCISO, but there are important differences as well.
In general, the DCISO role focuses less on executing cybersecurity initiatives and more on collecting and communicating metrics to report on the success of those initiatives. Building, interpreting, and refining data is a key part of the DCISO role, often
formalized in highly visual presentations with detailed performance metrics and highlighting opportunities for improvement.
DCISOs can help security leaders maintain security emphasis throughout the organization, and keep stakeholders focused on continuous security improvement. Defining the value of cybersecurity investment through dashboards and key performance indicators
helps ‘keep eyes’ on the big picture, contributing to a more successful security culture throughout the organization.
The VCISO role has emerged as a result of the challenges employers face finding highly qualified security leadership talent. It is particularly valuable for smaller organizations that may not have the resources (or the IT infrastructure necessary) to
hire a full-time cybersecurity leader.
In this case, a proven information security executive may work on retainer, or on a part-time consulting basis, offering insight and guidance without becoming a full-time member of the executive team. This role may also be called a "Fractional CISO" role.
Some security firms even provide CISO-as-a-Service solutions that offer strategic security guidance on an as-needed, pay-as-you-go basis.
READ: How to Structure the Information Security Function
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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