Want to be competitive as an IT leader? Head to the C-suite with the top traits of tomorrow’s CISO.

Could this be the year of the CISO? Recent studies have high hopes. After all, a rapidly expanding digital world is about more than cyber-defense. With efficacious security measures and new C-suite players taking a seat at the table, a dynamic information security leader is more important than ever. But what traits does tomorrow’s CISO need to have?

The modern CISO must transcend security and technological expertise. To effectively influence the boardroom, you’ll need to be a visionary, a strategist, an advocate for your customers, and a thoughtful collaborator among executive peers.

Let’s take a look at the top traits IT leaders will need to embody.

  1. Tomorrow’s CISO balances daily operations with future innovation.

There are many IT executives with the operational experience to keep an organization running. Few, however, demonstrate the kind of vision that makes IT security truly robust in the present as well as longer term.

With the growth of automated prevention tools, the CISO has the opportunity to spearhead strategic initiatives and implement new technologies. That’s why tomorrow’s CISO has significant foresight. They attend to patterns in the threat landscape to anticipate challenges, particularly for leaders in high-risk industries

Tomorrow’s CISO also monitors technological advances like generative AI and proactively shore up vulnerable employees. They deeply examine their weaknesses with exhaustive assessments. They test their environment with Ransomware Simulations and Red Teams to prepare for a real-world breach, treating it as not if, but when. 

The bottom line is that tomorrow’s CISO is ready today, so when hackers come knocking, it’s as if they saw them coming.

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  1. Tomorrow’s CISO has practical prudence.

As your organization’s technological capacity grows, so does your attack surface. A forward-thinking CISO is regularly considering worthwhile enterprise investments, but with a focus on those which will concretely address growing threats. 

One of the most practical obstacles to cyberdefense is effective IT asset management. Monitoring inventory, removing unused assets that pose security threats, and optimizing licenses is central to making informed purchasing decisions. Thus, CISOs must balance incorporating new technologies with ensuring day-to-day security best practices to avoid over-investing.

Also, as a realist, tomorrow’s information security leader assumes the worst—that a malicious event is likely on the horizon. With realistic scenarios via Tabletop Exercises, the CISO fosters internal coordination for incident response, business continuation, and disaster recovery. This type of practice smooths out cross-departmental hiccups that, in the case of a truly malicious incident, could mean the difference between a brief outage and significant losses. 

  1. Tomorrow’s CISO centers on the customer.

The CISO of tomorrow never loses sight of their purpose, which is inextricably tied to their user base. That responsibility extends to vendors, whose security—for better or for worse—is tied to your own. This makes vendor risk assessment a high priority.

Should a crisis occur, the CISO’s response should adhere to notifying affected customers, as well as law enforcement and any other required bodies, such as the FTC, credit bureaus, or U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Focusing on customer data can also help you identify critical endpoints and which assets need greater protection going forward. Such an adaptive strategy can empower an organization to bounce back from a seemingly devastating attack and concentrate their efforts on how to improve. 

In summary, when a CISO and their organization value the customer, everyone benefits, and everyone recovers. 

  1. Tomorrow’s CISO cooperates with intentionality.

Everyone does their part in the C-suite, including the CISO, whose role is becoming increasingly complex. They’re a strategic leader who must wrap functional productivity in with proactive defense measures and layer atop a culture of compliance organization-wide. It’s a tall order!

Enter the CISO’s new best corporate friend, the BISO (Business Information Security officer). While the CISO is more technically focused, the BISO can have an important presence in coordinating enterprise IT initiatives in the C-suite. As the digital world entwines closer with the real one, this critical player will forecast corporate IT priorities and standards in ways that can greatly complement a CISO’s efforts. As such, the spinning information security plates can be balanced well across these two important players, but only if they partner with agreed upon roles and responsibilities.

Prepare Today, Secure Tomorrow

To be tomorrow’s information security leader, you have to anticipate what the future will look like for you and your team. While nobody can know for sure, you can still prepare in practical ways.

BAI Security recommends Tabletop Exercises: disaster simulations followed by “tabletop discussions” that encourage collaboration and open thought in how to mitigate cyber-risks. These IT assessments can be valuable practice in working together and building a strategy uniquely suited to your culture.

To become the leader you need to be for your organization’s protection and success, contact BAI Security today—we’d love to help!