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The CISO's role in IT security

Updated: Mar 15

RSSI informatique
Photo by Farzad sur Unsplash

The CISO (Information Systems Security Manager) plays a central role in the management of IT security within organisations. They are the orchestral conductors of their organisation's IT security: they plan, direct, execute, evaluate and optimise actions to secure their company's information system.

So why is the role of CISO so essential? Why can't the CISO profile be replaced by another IT profile not specialising in cyber security? What is so special about the role of CISO, but above all, what makes it essential to organisations?

What is a CISO in IT security?

The CISO is a key professional within organisations. Responsible for protecting the company's IT systems, their role is truly central in a context where cybercrime and cyber threats are constantly evolving.

The CISO is therefore an IT security (or cybersecurity) professional, responsible for designing, implementing and supervising the company's IT security policy. He or she is an essential link in the corporate security chain, ensuring the protection of information systems and the data they contain, and playing a key role in the proactive defence against cyber threats.

What are the CISO's tasks in terms of IT security?

On a day-to-day basis, a CISO assesses potential IT vulnerabilities, implements or manages the implementation of corrective actions and/or appropriate security strategies, supervises the constant monitoring of networks and reacts to potential threats.

More specifically, the CISO's tasks consist of:

  • Drawing up and implementing the appropriate security strategy, in line with the company's objectives and potential threats.

  • Managing IT security risks by identifying, assessing and mitigating them, and implementing appropriate preventive and/or corrective measures.

  • Carrying out a regulatory and technological watch, in order to monitor changes in threats and regulations, and to guarantee the security, compliance and relevance of the measures put in place.

  • Protecting the data processed by the company, and ensuring the integrity, confidentiality and availability of this data.

  • To manage IT security incidents, through the rapid and effective implementation of incident response and/or business resumption plans.

  • Raising awareness and training company staff in IT security, in order to reduce the risks associated with human error.

  • Securing network infrastructures by implementing technical measures (anti-virus, firewalls, etc.) and appropriate governance.

  • Ensuring compliance with current security standards and regulations.

  • Manage and supervise external partners (suppliers, partners, service providers) to ensure that their security practices also comply with the required standards.

  • Communicating with the various stakeholders on the state of information systems security.

What expertise does a CISO have?

A CISO's areas of expertise include:

  • Cybersecurity and network security. CISOs have in-depth knowledge of cyber threats, potential attacks, IT security risks, etc., so that they can respond appropriately.

  • Risk management. The CISO is able to understand and assess the potential IT security risks to which the company is exposed, so as to develop appropriate plans to mitigate these risks.

  • Regulatory compliance. The CISO has a thorough understanding of security and data protection regulations (such as the GDPR, for example) as well as security and/or sector compliance standards, in order to guarantee compliance with the rules and avoid any penalties.

  • Cryptography and data security. The CISO has solid expertise in encryption methods and securing sensitive data, in order to protect the company's confidential data.

  • IT security awareness, to train and educate employees in good IT security practices, and to reduce the risks associated with human error.

CISOs may also hold professional certifications, such as CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), CISM (Certified Information Security Manager), CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker), etc., to enhance their skills in the field.

The CISO is therefore a versatile profile, who must have a global vision of the company's IT security.

3 major benefits of calling upon a CISO for your IT security

1- The CISO makes the most of an expert and senior profile

The first major benefit of calling on a CISO for your IT security is that a CISO must be an expert and senior profile.

To carry out their mission of protecting your company's information systems successfully, CISOs need to have solid knowledge of information systems security, as well as a wealth of experience!

The CISO is therefore a senior profile, with a thorough knowledge of his or her job and an understanding of the issues involved. Not only does the CISO have expertise dedicated to information system security (and so this specialisation of the CISO's expertise makes for greater efficiency and relevance in the actions taken), but above all he or she has sufficient experience to enable him or her to adapt his or her stance, actions and so on.

The CISO's experience is also essential for the strategic management of IT security risks: the CISO is able to rank the risks identified, prioritise the actions to be implemented, and adapt the information systems security strategy to the organisation, its context, its challenges, missions, etc.

So, by appointing a suitable CISO - one who is both expert and senior - your organisation will benefit from all the hindsight that such a profile can provide, guaranteeing the relevance of your actions and the efficiency of your security policy.

2- The CISO gives the organisation the benefit of his excellent understanding of compliance regulations and standards

A CISO must have a very good knowledge of the security regulations and compliance standards that apply to the organisation, and this enables him or her to determine precisely which standards and regulations apply to the organisation, as well as the actions to be taken to ensure the organisation's compliance with these standards and regulations.

The CISO is also in a position to anticipate any changes to these regulations, and potential future regulations, so as to prepare the organisation as well as possible for these changes.

By appointing a CISO, the organisation can reduce its regulatory risks and improve its commercial posture, which will be impacted by its improved compliance with the various standards and regulations.

3- The CISO can educate and train your employees

Finally, the CISO has sufficient expertise in both technical security and corporate security governance to be able to educate and train your employees as effectively as possible.

In cyber security, the threat posed by the human factor is particularly significant. Malicious acts, human error, carelessness: your employees are the daily users of your information system, and it is they who process customer data (potentially sensitive) or business data (potentially confidential) every day.

It is particularly important for them to be able to identify a potential threat, and to react appropriately, in order to avoid the attack or to limit its consequences on the organisation's activity.

The CISO is therefore the ideal person to lead awareness-raising and training initiatives for your employees.

To conclude

Calling in a CISO to manage your company's IT security is therefore an essential step. However, to ensure that this choice remains entirely relevant, it is important to appoint a cybersecurity expert to this strategic position, so as to best protect your business and its strategic, confidential and potentially sensitive data.


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