Careers & People
3/20/2017
10:00 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Secrets of a Highly Productive CIO-CISO Relationship

The dynamic between CIOs and CISOs has evolved along with the technology. How can they ensure they're on the same page while driving value?

The ever-changing dynamic between the CIO and CISO is subject to several factors: personality differences, new technologies, length of time working together, and communication between the business and IT teams.

For a duo in charge with keeping the organization connected, productive, and secure, a strong relationship is crucial. How can they build and maintain one as organizations adapt to the future of tech?

Over the past five years, cybersecurity has gained "significant visibility," says Jason Clark, general partner at SixThirty Ventures and chairman of the Security Advisory Alliance. "It's part of the discussion, part of news every day," he says. "That itself has shifted the nature of the relationship."

Five years ago, he says, CIOs often didn't know how CISOs were doing their jobs. The CIO had more of an operational role in running the organization. The CISO questioned their decisions, telling them what not to do. This put stress on the CIO and led to a poor working relationship.

"There was a lot more contention between the various IT groups, business, and security, because security viewed everything as a risk," Clark explains.

Over the years, the CISO's role has matured, he continues. Now, instead of solely focusing on stopping security threats and cybercriminals, he or she also act as a business leader. The position has evolved to include the landscape of the entire organization, which has affected the CISO's relationship with the CIO.

How can CIOs and CISOs build an optimal working relationship? Steve Hassell, former president of Emerson Network Power and global CIO of Emerson, advises setting metrics for success, and using absolute data that can be measured. Both leaders are held accountable for these metrics, giving them incentive to productively work together and achieve them.

Clark agrees, emphasizing the importance of being aligned on business outcomes and driving value with people, processes, and technology. He also advises ensuring all business and IT pros are speaking the same language when discussing problems and solutions to avoid frustration.

Healthy Tension

There is still tension between the two, Hassell says, but it's a key part of this dynamic. The CIO and CISO don't need to agree on everything. In fact, it's better if they don't.

"Almost every good thing that happens in business is due to tension," he says.

Tension can be healthy. When the CIO and CISO disagree on a decision, the solution is usually somewhere in between. This opens up a conversation about different routes to take and ultimately creates value for the business as the two sides find a balance.

[Hear Clark and Hassell give tips on how to improve the CIO-CISO relationship during their session at Interop ITX on Wednesday, May 17, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. To learn more about other Interop Security tracks, or to register, visit the live links.]

Ultimately, says Hassell, a strong relationship is built on respect. The CIO and CISO must realize they will often view situations from different perspectives. If each is stubborn to prove they are right, they'll never work well together.

Handling New Tech

CIO and CISO teams will face many major choices as their organizations introduce cloud services, mobile, IoT, and other new technologies the IT team doesn't always control.

Clark explains how cloud technology, in particular, is drastically changing the environment. Security teams have bought several different technologies. Businesses invest millions of dollars, and months of time, to deploy them.

Today, the cloud enables the same teams to get the same product and deploy it globally, fully scalable, at a lower cost because they only pay for what they use. All of a sudden, their four- to six-month integration period is cut down to 15 minutes.

"[Cloud] is going to change the way that everyone think about these services," he predicts. "It could drive CISOs out of operations and more into strategy and risk, where they become more of a risk officer."

The "bulk innovation of technology" could have an interesting effect on the CIO position, says Hassell. He expects it may grow into a broader business role because the CIO will be responsible for mediating technology across the organization. In some cases, the CEO could become the CIO.

"Increasingly, the requirements of the CEO are becoming harder because the job is getting so broad," he says.

Related Content:

Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
Security Operations and IT Operations: Finding the Path to Collaboration
A wide gulf has emerged between SOC and NOC teams that's keeping both of them from assuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of IT systems. Here's how experts think it should be bridged.
Flash Poll
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
The transition from DevOps to SecDevOps is combining with the move toward cloud computing to create new challenges - and new opportunities - for the information security team. Download this report, to learn about the new best practices for secure application development.
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
In past years, security researchers have discovered ways to hack cars, medical devices, automated teller machines, and many other targets. Dark Reading Executive Editor Kelly Jackson Higgins hosts researcher Samy Kamkar and Levi Gundert, vice president of threat intelligence at Recorded Future, to discuss some of 2016's most unusual and creative hacks by white hats, and what these new vulnerabilities might mean for the coming year.