The four faces of the CISO

CISOs continue to serve the vital functions of managing security technologies (technologist) and protecting enterprise assets (guardian). At the same time, they are increasingly expected to focus more on setting security strategy (strategist) and advising business leaders on security’s importance (advisor). 

Technologist. The CISO as technologist guides the design, development, and deployment of secure technical architectures, instilling security standards and implementing innovative countermeasures. Technologists carefully select and implement platforms that support changing threat detection and monitoring solutions, and integrate services delivered by external sources into a seamless framework. Technologists ensure that architecture designs are flexible and extendable to meet future security and business needs. They develop and maintain the security policies and standards that an organization should adhere to, working with the CIO to ensure that platforms meet these requirements.

Guardian. As guardian, the CISO’s charge is to monitor the effectiveness of the security program, processes, and controls in place. The guardian addresses considerations such as whether controls are working as intended, data is secure, and information is properly shared. Guardians monitor processes that safeguard the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data and drive the overall security program. They also measure and report on information security risks to keep stakeholders informed and meet compliance and regulatory requirements.

Strategist. As strategist, the CISO is the chief value architect for all cyber risk investments. The strategist partners with the business to align business and information security strategies, and capture the value of security investments to safeguard enterprise assets. In this role, the CISO possesses deep business knowledge and acts as a credible partner who provides business-centric advice on how risk management can help the business. The strategist understands which business operations and information assets are the enterprise crown jewels, institutes strategic governance that prioritizes information security investments, and ensures that security and business resources and budgets are fully aligned to execute the priorities of the organization and deliver expected results.

Advisor. The CISO as advisor understands the implications of new or emerging threats, and helps identify cyber risks that arise as the business advances new strategies. The advisor drives the enterprise to continuously improve its security decision-making and risk mitigation capabilities. The advisor understands where the organization needs to focus to address cyberthreats, and creates a risk-based strategic roadmap to align cybersecurity efforts with corporate risk appetite. Advisors possess significant political capital and are able to enlist, educate, engage, and align executive stakeholders to increase security awareness.


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