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Are CISOs Prepared to manage today’s security threat and achieve digital resilience?

The global pandemic has tilted the scales in favor of cybercriminals, who adapted their attack strategy to exploit the vulnerabilities in the existing security systems in the organizations.

Added to this, the global mindset of businesses to shift to a remote and hybrid work environment has exacerbated the threat landscape resulting in high ransomware attacks and data breaches across the industries and geographies.

What this has resulted in is that businesses must elevate their cybersecurity strategy and the role of the CISO has become more important than ever. As more and more organizations adopt the digital transformation, go remote, or hybrid, and move to the cloud, the CISOs role will expand and may even elevate in taking strategic decisions along with the business leaders.

CISOs need to become business enablers and as guardians of cybersecurity need to protect critical assets and operations as the organization strives to drive growth. They have to handle all upcoming cyber threats that arise due to connected environments, broader ecosystems, and data explosions.

Let’s take a look at the different hats the CISOs should don to build a cyber-resilient organization.

  1. CISOs must be prepared to move away from a maturity-based approach to a risk-based approach – Maturity-based approach focus on achieving a particular level of maturity by building certain capabilities. One major disadvantage of such an approach is that over time these maturity-based programs grow organically leading to unmanageable growth of control and oversight in monitoring. The risk-based approach makes risk reduction its primary goal, thus enabling organizations to prioritize their investment. It also breaks down risk-reduction targets into precise, pragmatic implementation programs. This will ensure that appropriate controls are built for the worst vulnerabilities, to defeat the most significant threats. For this, the CISOs should fully embed cybersecurity in the enterprise-management framework, define the sources of enterprise value across the teams, processes, and technologies, and understand the organization’s vulnerabilities including third-party threats.
  2. CISOs must consistently reinvent and implement more sophisticated defense strategies to mirror the increasingly sophisticated techniques used by hackers – Zero-Trust framework, cloud-based security technology, and intelligent security automation have become must-have tools in the CISOs’ arsenal.
  3. CISOs must adopt a security-first approach across the organizationEmployees should be educated and prepared to play their part in protecting the organization from identity vulnerabilities or credentials theft. Employees on the front line play an important role in keeping the organization protected as normal on-premise security measures become less relevant. CISOs should also keep in mind the importance of business continuity during a fluid and challenging time. They should have an accommodating approach that will encourage employees to make intelligent risk trade-offs.
  4. CISOs need to have a holistic enterprise-wide approach to cybersecurity – CISOs now have a major role to play as part of the decision-making in mergers and acquisitions. An acquisition target with poor cybersecurity standards can cause significant problems for the larger organization. Therefore, CISOs need to have coherent and consistent content for crisis management and ongoing expertise to inform the organization’s whole risk management portfolio.
  5. CISOs should nurture the next generation of cybersecurity leaders – With working styles turning to be remote or hybrid, and applications residing in private or public clouds, CISOs should reassess the security requirements and must encourage a culture of cyber awareness and hygiene for a resilient organization. They must invest in nurturing the next-generation cybersecurity leaders for the business to be agile and not compromise on security. Teams should have a collaborative approach to security and come together to share responsibility for any cyber security issues. Security experts must be involved early on in the project as oftentimes top management overlooks the cost of managing the associated security risks and are brought later on only after a product or system has been developed. They need to get buy-in from top executives and employees and focus on attracting talent to automate workflows.
  6. CISOs should align their security strategies with the business goals – The CISOs role is not limited to only preventing security threats but it now encompasses effectively managing the risks in infrastructure, business operations, data security, and brand reputation among other things. To improve cyber resilience in their organization, CISOs should ensure the alignment of their security strategies with the organization’s goals.
  7. CISOs should take a structured approach to supply chain risk management – The challenge of supply-chain risk management has been exacerbated by globalization. The increased complexity has brought with it more potential security failure points and higher levels of risks. CISOs should build cybersecurity controls around supply chains, including third or fourth-party risks, in areas such as vendor remote access management, activity monitoring, and concentration risk.
  8. CISOs will have to augment their security preparedness against supply chain threats, ransomware extortion, and social engineering hacks – One of the challenging tasks of the CISO is to prepare for the next round of threats in advance to prevent disruption to business, compromised critical systems, and data theft. In the coming years, CISOs can expect a continuous upward surge in ransomware attacks and new malware attacks. It is the responsibility of the CISOs to defend their organization against the new types of threats and malware that require an integrated approach to security.
  9. CISOs need to be the bridge between security and consumer confidence – Trust has always been central to building strong customer relationships. In a world that is powered by cloud and machine learning, CISOs need to be close to the modernization agenda and at the same time focus on data governance, data privacy, and operational resiliency. Consumers often walk away from doing business with companies whose data-privacy practices they don’t trust. Data governance, data privacy, and data security have never been more important than today. CISOs need to be highly versatile and serve as a connecting bond between security, privacy, and consumer confidence. Applying least privilege access will be critical to blocking would-be-threat actors. Security resilience will become a mainstay and CISOs should ensure that critical IT infrastructure-both software and hardware can minimize attack impact if any and build consumer confidence and trust.
  10. CISOs need to be proactive and tech-savvy – CISOs just can’t be process managers. They must have a deep understanding of technology and business background. This will help in effectively communicating complex issues to businesses. The modern CISO should be uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between technology, processes, automation, and cybersecurity.

Conclusion

The role of the CISO just got bigger and better. As technology is going to be more segmented, and more hyper-connected leading to hyper-complexity and security issues, the CISOs role must evolve with the threat landscape and technologies.

They should have a proper understanding of people, processes, and technology and must ensure a proactive approach to detection and response of threats. With uncertainty looming in the future, CISOs have to think how to protect increasingly valuable digital assets, how to access threats related to an increasingly fraught geopolitical environment, about how to meet increasingly stringent customer and regulatory expectations, and how to navigate disruptions to existing cybersecurity models as companies adopt newer technologies.

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