Leadership in Cybersecurity: Evolving Role of CISO

Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), a leadership role that is evolving constantly than any other roles in organizations. CISO plays a crucial role as organizations are operating more in the digital space nowadays, which require securing intellectual property and proprietary data and managing the overall security of the organization.

In today’s scenario, the job role of a CISO is evolving at a faster pace than before because to keep up with the frequent changes in the critical and strategic functions happening in the cybersecurity domain. CISO’s role has been shifted greatly since the emergence of COVID-19 when business continuity and remote work have become the priority.

Role of Chief Information Security Officer

A CISO wears several hats in an organization as well in the cybersecurity realm depending on the size of the organization, industry, regulatory compliances, and hierarchy.  However, the Chief Information Security Officer is considered as both a security leader as well as a problem-solver. He/she should be a business enabler and must converse the language of business.  Almost two decades ago, the job is all about securing the organizational assets and managing the firewall.

However, the world has changed a lot during these recent times as compared to the requirements back then. The internet/data connectivity has pervaded each business aspect, which in turn elevated the security risks higher than before. The evolving digital technologies and threat landscape also enhanced the importance and value of cybersecurity functions.

Today, Chief Information Security Officer has a prominent role in the cybersecurity domain, which not only involves bringing in solutions for the security risks but also having the skillsets that enable them to stay ahead of the masterminds of cybercriminals.

Critical Responsibilities of CISO

The Chief Information Security Officer should be a multitasker. The critical responsibilities of CISO range from End-to-End Security Operations, Regulatory Compliance, Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity, Stakeholder Onboarding, Documentation, to HR Management.

End-to-End Security Operations: Responsible for real-time threat analysis and bringing in solutions to prevent security risks. Designing a security strategy by evaluating the threat landscape and bringing into line the core objectives of the business. Having an understanding of business operations is mandatory to handle security operations for prioritizing critical threats. A complete understanding of the business operations and business culture help to create an impact on the security strategic plan.

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Management: Cyberattack resilience is mandatory for an organization as it offers more than a defensive and protective security strategy. Resilience is all about recovering from the cyberattacks at a faster pace and hence associated with business continuity management (BCM) activities. Disaster recovery and risk management plan should be developed by the security leader as part of the crisis management.

Regulatory Compliance: The CISO should understand the regulatory compliance of the organization as it is a continuous organizational process. The security leader must educate the team on new regulations and execute the right policies and procedures to confirm that the organization meets the compliance requirements.

Stakeholder Onboarding: Reporting and advising on security-related matters to the top management such as security risks, security alerts, corrective actions, improvements, proposing security budget, etc., also include in the responsibilities.

Documentation: Contributes to the documentation of Classification Policy, Information Security Policy, Risk Assessment and Approach, Acceptable Asset Usage, Applicability Statements, Access Control Policy, etc.

HR Management: Responsible for background verification of prospective job aspirants, security training and employee awareness, and taking punitive actions against employees who are involved in security breaches.

Qualifications and Certifications

PGD/M. Tech/MS in Cybersecurity or Computer Science is considered by various companies as the minimum qualifications to become a security leader of the organization. Certifications such as CISSP from ISC2 and/or CISM, CISA from ISACA or Certified Cybersecurity Architect etc and relevant experience in the security domain are also considered for the position of CISO.

Next-Gen CISO

What are the requirements for the next-gen CISO? With the changing technological scenario or new normal created by COVID-19, the requirements and expectations for the CISOs are also transforming on a large scale. Since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, the major focus area of Security and IT departments of various organizations is to have a smooth transition in the use of digital technologies.

As of now, next-gen CISOs are a rare breed, however, modern CISOs have to rise to that status with rapid evolution by mastering the skills through continuous learning. The next-gen Chief Security Information Officers should be those who have in-depth and up-to-date knowledge on current and future technologies that enable them to advice the organizations to move forward by being competitive.

The next-gen security leader should be an effective communicator who can align security language with business objectives and also possesses traditional leadership skills. He/she should be a C-suite leader, critical strategist, and a critical resource for businesses to meet their security as well as business goals.


Initially, the job responsibilities of CISO is limited to commanding the team and enforcing security within the organization system. Even though COVID-19 might be a temporary situation, the impact it has on the information security teams will be there for a long time. However, the role of the Chief Information Security Officer has been evolving with the increasing dependency on digital technologies across and outside the organization.

Mastering the skills through lifelong learning with advanced degrees and certifications help the aspiring CISOs to make a career transition and lead the next-generation security teams.


Deepa K

Content Strategist

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