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What are the responsibilities of a Chief Information Security Officer?



In the world of cyber security, a Chief Information Security Officer is considered a five star general for the department and its staff members.


This is a C-level management position. In this position, you will be tasked to provide and oversee leadership initiatives. This initiatives usually revolved around the overall security of a given organization. In larger companies, you can also assume the role of someone who actively consults with government agencies like the FBI, DoD and law enforcement. Sometimes you will have to deal with corporate security matters as well.


Responsibilities of a Chief Information Security Officer

In this position, you will be given some power and freedom to an extent. But this power usually depends on the kind of organization you are working with. Some companies may not use your full potential at all.


However, as a CISO, you are generally required to:


  • Create strategic plans that ensure deployment of program enhancements and information security technologies.
  • Combine information protection strategies and security policies with IT systems development.
  • Give comprehensive risk assessments on currently deployed systems.
  • Keep an eye on threats, events and vulnerabilities in host systems and network.
  • Act as a center person for any IT investigations and provide a direct and full investigation with recommended actions.
  • Give financial forecasts for maintenance and security operations for currently deployed security assets.
  • Collaborate with senior management to make sure all present IT security protection policies are properly implemented, governed, maintained and reviewed effectively.
  • Create a team of IT security experts and lead them.
  • Supervise any current or future developments revolving around corporate security standards, procedures and policies.
  • Work together with key stakeholders to build a complete IT security risk management program.
  • Stay up to date with evolving threats and infrastructures all the while anticipating them.
  • Develop and maintain different strategies that deal with security incidents and collaborate with any current investigative activities.
  • Allocate and prioritize security resources efficiently and correctly.
  • Come up with leadership, guidance and training opportunities for the team under you.
  • Encourage staff to take educational programs that focus mostly on security compliance and user awareness.


You can also expect to take occasional tasks that do not involve technical expertise. You will be reporting directly to the CEO or CIO with your security reports.


Some small companies also require a CISO to take on hands on technical tasks.


Your Career Paths As A CISO

To become the ultimate force to be reckoned with in your field, you will likely have to spend years in the information security sector. Your career starts as a:



Use the following jobs to build your technical skills



Sometime in your career, you will need to take on a senior level position in your organization to further develop your project management, leadership and organizational politics skills. The following jobs are great for these:


Other Jobs Like CISO

In terms of being the highest position in IT security, no other job can beat that of CISO position. But still, other jobs like this are:


  • Information Security Officer (ISO)
  • Chief Security Officer (CSO)
  • Global Head of Information Security


Sometimes a Security Director may be considered a CISO in smaller companies


Expected Salaries


The median annual salary of Chief Information Security Officer is $194,362 (2016 figures) with a range that is usually between $163,417 – $235,011.The salary usually depends on a variety of different factors. But the total pay usually includes your base annual salary, profit sharing, bonuses, commissions, overtime, tios and other forms of earnings as per organization.




Education (Degrees)

To become a CISO, you must at least possess a bachelor’s degree in Cyber security, Computer Science or any other technical field related to these.


With security threats constantly evolving and getting tough to deal with, some big name companies are now demanding at least a master’s degree that focuses a lot on IT security. Any additional training or certifications will certainly help you land a job.


Relevant Experience

You’ll need at least 7-12 years experience in general IT field before you can even think about applying for a CISO position. In these 7-12 years, 5+ years in management especially in that of security operations is mandatory to land a successful application as a CISO.


Soft Skill

Your soft skills will be highly appreciated by most employers. Generally, they want you to have expert communication skills and strategic planning, process oriented thinking, organizational and creative skills. Basically, you are the five star general of this field so you should possess the same level skills.


Highly recommended skills include negotiation and interpersonal skills. This is because a CISO has to operate within a complex organization that have them influencing and interacting with a lot of different stakeholders. Your employers must be assured that you are able to direct a team all the while collaborating with high post executives. They’ll want you to build relationships with a number of different departments.


As a CISO, you will also be expected to produce physically recognizable results. You should be able to take on different forms of pressure within regulatory and legal requirements, technological adoption, financial constraints etc. You will also be demanded to complete projects and multi-year programs.


Recommended Certifications For CISO

Security certifications play a huge role in getting you a management level position. If you want to significantly increase the chances of landing this position, you should consider CISSP and CISM certifications. However, there are others that can help you too:


  • CISM: Certified Information Security Manager
  • CISA: Certified Information Systems Auditor
  • CGEIT: Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT
  • GSLC: GIAC Security Leadership
  • CCISO: Certified Chief Information Security Officer
  • CISSP-ISSMP: Information Systems Security Management Professional
  • CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional






















Jake Ciber

Jack of all trades... master of none... ABL... Always Be Learning! I love what I do and I love helping people.