Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

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Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is a C-level position within an organization. Therefore, people in this position generally have considerable educational and professional achievements to their credit. Many CISOs come from IT positions where they acquire several years of experience in systems security and hone their management skills.

A CISO manages information security implications within an organization and has specific responsibility for corporate resources including strategic resources, personnel, infrastructure, policy enforcement, emergency planning, and security awareness. As a company’s security advisor the CISO will establish priorities for, and implement effective risk management of, threat exposures to the company’s data and information and the hardware and software that house data and information.

A CISO will define and implement policies and procedures that ensure protection of critical infrastructure, and advise senior management on risk levels and security issues. The CISO will provide senior management with cost-benefit analyses of information security programs, policies, processes, systems, and elements; and communicate the value of IT security throughout all levels of the organization.

CISOs are responsible for monitoring and testing the security of Web sites, applications, computers, databases, and networks. Although a CISO may establish company-wide security protocols that require user identification and passwords and protect networks from hackers, today’s CISO needs to be more than the person in charge of making sure the firewall keeps out hackers.

An effective CISO needs the ability to think like a CFO when working on developing a security budget, the ability to act like a lawyer when dealing with industry compliance standards and government regulations, and the knowledge of an HR manager when ensuring that staff members follow security protocols.

General Educational Requirements

Although an Advanced Degree is becoming a common requirement for the CISO position, a Bachelor’s Degree in a field such as Computer Science, Business Administration, or Information Science and Security may be adequate. A Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in information security management would be a great benefit to an aspiring CISO.

Additional Qualifications

Education in the areas of programming languages, database management, technical writing, and mathematics will be helpful to a CISO. Product and professional information security certifications may be required by some employers. CISOs must be current on antivirus software, firewalls, and other security systems. Management skills and experience in marketing, accounting and finance, Web analytics, and specific computer system security hardware and software will be required by some employers. CISOs need to have industry knowledge. They must especially be aware of the security threats that specific to their industry and what is being done to protect networks and data against those threats.

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