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What is a CISO?

A Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is an executive-level role in Cybersecurity. CISOs make part of an organization’s C-suite. They bridge IT staff and the Board, playing an active role in decision-making and in influencing the budgeting for security. Besides that, they manage IT/Security teams and oversee the security strategy and operations.

Are you considering a career as a CISO? Or are you an employer who wants to know if this is the cyber pro you need to hire? Read more to find out.

The profile

Cybersecurity specialists are in constant demand. Nowadays, ****an ineffective security strategy is not only a serious risk but something that can negatively impact your reputation as a business. That’s why CISOs are an essential part of GRC (Governance, Risk and Compliance) from a security standpoint, ensuring data and systems are protected and that security measures comply with regulations and standards.

CISOs are becoming a more prominent presence in the boards (even though many still work under or with the CIOs), attending meetings, providing advice and insight about security and best practices. They are a vehicle for security concerns to reach diverse people**,** connecting the IT/Security team, executives, vendors and customers.

A good CISO is an all-rounder who masters technical, business and interpersonal skills. They excel in analysis, audit, management, leadership and negotiation, as well as networking. It’s a job that requires a lot of communication and coordination with many people from different backgrounds.

Staying informed and updated on cybersecurity and business trends is mandatory, continual learning is a must.

An academic background is convenient to have as it adds credibility, but the most important thing is a combo of the soft and hard skills we’ve mentioned, plus a certification in information security such as CISSPCISMCISA or CCISO. Previous experience in managing security teams and in similar roles is also a key factor.

CISOs can make more than 100,000€/ year, but it varies depending on the location and industry. In Germany, the average salary seems to be around 80,000€/year.

Do you need a CISO?

A CISO will not be the cheapest hire, but it is an indispensable position in many organizations. A CISO is a core asset in sectors where data security is an integral part of your business (financial, medical, pharmaceutical or government). E-commerce firms, big or small, should also have a CISO overseeing their security operations and strategy.

Another important factor in deciding to hire a CISO is the size. Small companies outside the branches we’ve mentioned don’t usually have a CISO and rely on IT managers and security teams to fulfil these duties.

Consider your budget and your needs too. Some CISOs are more tech-oriented while others have a financial or law background. Make sure you choose an experienced and qualified professional.

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This is a straightforward guide made to help employers and cybersecurity professionals to find each other, providing them with current standard terminology and descriptions. It is by no means exhaustive.

While there is some discussion in cybersecurity about job titles and functions, we use the terms in their broadest sense, focusing on what can be put in a job description to make it more accurate and easy to understand.

Contact Person

Anton Schühle

Anton Schühle

Consultant – Information Security & Data Protection

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