CISO

How to Become a CISO?

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Business man making a presentation at office. Business executive delivering a presentation to his colleagues during meeting or in-house business training, explaining business plans to his employees.

The Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is the C-level executive who is responsible for the information and data security for an entire organization or a business. CISO is considered to be the pinnacle of IT career and is a five-star general of an IT security department.

Implementing cyber security always remains as the topmost concern for any organization and so the demand for CISOs continues to grow. Here let us take a look at the responsibilities, requirements and certifications needed for getting a CISO job.

CISO Responsibilities

A CISO requires a wide range of IT experience, strong leadership and communication skills. In order to easily understand the job of a CISO, it is better to learn the day-to-day responsibilities that he is supposed to undertake. The responsibilities are categorized as given below

Security operations: Analyze any real-time immediate threats, and sort when something goes wrong.

Cyber risk and cyber intelligence: Be aware of the developing security threats, and help the board understand the potential security problems that might arise from acquisitions or other big business moves.

Data loss and fraud prevention: Make sure that the internal staff does not misuse, alter or steal data

Security architecture: Planning, buying, and rolling out security hardware and software, and ensure that the IT and network infrastructure is designed with best security practices in mind.

Identity and access management: Make sure that the restricted data and systems are accessible only to authorized people.

Program management: Implement programs that reduces the risks such as regular system patches.

Investigations and forensics: To determine how a breach happened in case of occurrence, deal with those responsible, if it is internal staffs and make plans to avoid the occurrence of same crisis the next time.

Governance: To make sure that the above-mentioned initiatives run smoothly and get the funding whenever necessary and ensure that the corporate leader understands their importance.

CISO Requirements

A CISO must have spent years in the field of information security with a strong technical foundation. The person must have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, likely to have one or more master’s degree and 7-12 years of work experience with at least five years in a management role.

The technical skills required includes understanding security-centric tech, like DNS, routing, authentication, VPN, proxy services and DDOS mitigation technologies; coding practices, ethical hacking and threat modeling; and firewall and intrusion detection/prevention protocols. CISOs are expected to help with regulatory compliance and so it is necessary to know about PCI, HIPAA, NIST, GLBA and SOX compliance assessments as well.

A CISO requires a unique blend of IT and leadership skills. Technical knowledge is not the only requirement as most of the CISO’s job involves management and advocating for security within company leadership. So, it is also good to have a business backgrounds likely an MBA, and the skills needed to communicate with other C-level executives and the board.        

CISO Certifications

To enhance your IT awareness, it is always good to invest in security-focused IT certifications and training that could brighten your resume. Here are a few relevant cybersecurity certifications to earn:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) for IT professionals who likes to make security a career focus.
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) for those who need to go higher within the security discipline and transition into leadership or program management.
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) for security professionals wwho wish to obtain an advanced awareness of issues that can threaten enterprise security.

CISO Salary

CISO is a high-level job and they are paid accordingly. CISO salaries varies massively by the size of the organization and it is typical to have a salary above $100,000. As of Mar 2019, the average annual pay for a CISO in the United States is $189,600 a year. It is worth noting that the security salaries are growing relatively steadily in the past few years, especially because it is increasingly difficult to find the talented candidates to fill highly specialized roles.

Remesh Ramachandran
Security Researcher & Consultant for the Government, Enthusiast, Malware Analyst, Penetration Tester He has been successful participant in various bug bounty programs and discovered security flaws on major websites. He occasionally performs training and security assessment for various government, non-government and educational organizations.

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