CISO represented by an imagined shot of the inside of a touchscreen showing a businessman's hand manipulating controls on the screen

Symptoms of an Organization in Desperate Need of a CISO

A company’s Chief Information Security Officer, or CISO, is the newest must-have member of the c-suite. These professionals are tasked with overseeing a business’s cybersecurity efforts. A CISO’s presence on staff should help to reduce the risk of cyberattacks, data leaks, and other costly and embarrassing security-related snafus.

CISOs are usually some of the most talented and experienced experts in their field. As such, they command high salaries, between $212,868 and $270,704 annually in the United States as of this writing.

Why Business Leaders Avoid Hiring a CISO

Yet, despite the prevalence of cybercrime, many business leaders are loath to bring a CISO on board. They worry that their salary will negatively affect business budgets without providing adequate benefits. Indeed, not all businesses need a CISO—but some definitely do. Here are a few critical symptoms of a business in desperate need of a CISO:

A Long History of Devastating Cyberattacks

A single successful cyberattack can leave a business reeling. A string of cyberattacks should compel that business to do better in elevating its information security. In fact, even a single successful cyberattack might be a useful indicator that a business’s existing security systems and processes are not sufficient and require supervision by a dedicated executive.

Of course, waiting for a sufficient number of cyberattacks to land isn’t a good strategy if a company’s leaders already suspect that a CISO will be a valuable addition to the leadership team. The cost of a single cyberattack can vary, depending on the size of an organization and the quantity and sensitivity of its stored data.

However, for businesses with fewer than 500 employees, the cost averages around $3.31 million. More than one of these breaches in a year could decimate the company’s budget, threatening failure. It is important for an organization to recognize when it is a prime target for threat actors and take action to protect itself before those actors can disrupt business to a severe degree.

Continuous Struggles with Governance, Risk, and Compliance

Thanks to GDPR and policies like it, essentially all organizations are responsible for maintaining compliance with their data collection and storage strategies. Moreover, some businesses harboring especially sensitive data might be subject to even greater regulations due to their heightened risks. Generally, the more heavily regulated the industry, the more robust an organization’s cybersecurity strategies must be.

Because the legal repercussions of failed governance are so severe, businesses need to recognize the need for better compliance solutions as early as possible. A qualified CISO will assume responsibility for managing governance, risk, and compliance. Therefore, it might be beneficial to create the CISO role within organizations where compliance will continue to be a struggle.

A Large Organization with a Complex Digital Environment

Cybersecurity efforts should be consistent with the size of the organization. Startups and small businesses might not require the attention of a full-time CISO. However, because larger organizations will inevitably develop exceedingly complex digital environments, they benefit greatly from having a dedicated executive overseeing their information security.

To determine the size and intricacy of a threat environment, business leaders might consult with their current IT leaders. Then they can determine whether a full-time CISO is a necessary addition.


Disorganized IT Responses to Existing and Emerging Threats

Information technology is an extremely broad field, within which information security is a small and relatively new component. Large businesses with established in-house IT teams are likely to find that their current IT staff excel in certain fields, such as network architecture, web development, or database administration. However, when it comes to information security, that same staff might be lacking in appropriate expertise or coordination.

If IT seems disorganized when it comes to developing or implementing cybersecurity strategies, they will almost certainly benefit from the creation of the CISO role. From the c-suite, a CISO can provide much-needed guidance and leadership, not just to IT but to the entire workforce. This guidance will ensure that responses to existing and emerging threats will be cohesive and effective.


Does Your Business Need a CISO?

More and more organizations are recognizing their need for a dedicated leader in information security. These organizations are now welcoming high-level cybersecurity professionals into the c-suite. As they do, those businesses without cohesive cybersecurity policies and plans become even more vulnerable to attack. Ultimately, it is not a question of whether a company will create a CISO role—but when.

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