Chief information security officers (CISOs) have both internal- and external-facing roles. Externally, they must constantly scan the horizon for potential threats. Internally, they must implement, communicate, and champion best practices for security at their enterprises.
In a time of sprawling global supply chains and growing automation, the role of the CISO is more complex than ever. To carry out this role effectively, CISOs must learn the importance of trust management.
What Is CISO Trust?
CISO trust is the confidence that an organization has in its CISO. This trust isn’t necessarily easy to establish, nor to maintain; the larger and more diffuse an organization is, the more attack vectors there are for ransomware or hackers to exploit. To maintain high security standards in such a challenging environment, part of the CISO’s role is to engage with the other stakeholders in the business and help them understand the importance of implementing strong information security initiatives in their business.
A classic example of this is the rise in zero trust architecture, also known as zero trust security. It works by treating every access request as a threat, and relying on tools such as multi-factor authentication, segmentation, and real-time monitoring to minimize risk. This is highly effective, but the repeated permissions and siloed information do create friction in other parts of the business. To make it work, CISOs must focus on building trust so that employees understand why such steps are necessary.
A business’s vulnerabilities start with its people, so building trust between them and the CISO assures that all parties act correctly to prevent data breaches or ransomware attacks, ultimately protecting the health of the business. It requires structure and processes for building and maintaining trust, which is where trust management comes in.
What Is Trust Management?
Trust management is the set of practices and structured processes an organization uses to build and maintain trust in the CISO. In a time of evolving security threats, organizations must be adaptable and willing to respond to new threats as they arrive. Digital transformation is no longer a one-off conversion; it has become a continual process.
Influencing corporate culture is hard, and getting the wider workforce to understand the importance of firewalls and data privacy can be even more so. It means that alongside the technical threat monitoring that CISOs must carry out as part of their roles, they also need to look at employee-facing education (say, webinars on best practices) and communication to help them understand how cyberattacks can affect the company’s bottom line.
As we highlighted in our blog on what makes a successful CISO, part of the role of the CISO goes beyond technical implementation and covers coalition building across the organization and beyond.
What Are CISOs Primarily Responsible For?
As we highlighted in our blog on GRC for CISOs, the role of the chief information security officer is expansive, encompassing areas such as:
- IT security operations including cybersecurity, cyber risk, cyber threat, and cyberattack prevention;
- Data protection and data security;
- Security architecture and cyber intelligence;
- Identity and access management;
- Program and security team management;
- Incident response;
- IT governance;
- And now, trust management!
This is just a starting point. The CISO’s role now often includes areas such as compliance and even HR management. Their responsibilities have even started to spill out of the cyber into the physical realm, with one recent survey finding 42 percent of CISOs having physical security duties added to their role in recent years.
Current Challenges for CISOs
The last few years have seen an evolution in the CISO role, as cyberattacks have risen and wider trends such as remote work and the internet of things (IOT) have opened up more vectors of attack. Here are a few of the threats currently facing CISOs:
- The rise in remote work, and the implications this has for identity management and the potential for lower security standards outside of the workplace;
- Network and cloud security threats;
- Winning the trust of their wider organization; research shows just 9 percent of boards are confident that they are protecting their organization from cyber attacks.
These are just a few new issues. More will undoubtedly emerge in the coming years. To adapt, CISOs must be able to influence behavior in their organizations from the board level down.
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The Reciprocity® ROAR platform makes risk easy for anyone to understand regardless of their technical knowledge. ROAR, or Risk Observation, Assessment and Remediation, gives CISOs a unified, real time view of their risk and compliance. It provides the contextual insight necessary to communicate clearly with key stakeholders and make the right decisions, fast.
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