Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

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 the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 9/21/2020
Hacking Yourself: Marie Moe and Pacemaker Security
Gary McGraw Ph.D., Co-founder Berryville Institute of Machine Learning,  9/21/2020
Startup Aims to Map and Track All the IT and Security Things
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  9/22/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-24213
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-23
An integer overflow was discovered in YGOPro ygocore v13.51. Attackers can use it to leak the game server thread's memory.
CVE-2020-2279
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-23
A sandbox bypass vulnerability in Jenkins Script Security Plugin 1.74 and earlier allows attackers with permission to define sandboxed scripts to provide crafted return values or script binding content that can result in arbitrary code execution on the Jenkins controller JVM.
CVE-2020-2280
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-23
A cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in Jenkins Warnings Plugin 5.0.1 and earlier allows attackers to execute arbitrary code.
CVE-2020-2281
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-23
A cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in Jenkins Lockable Resources Plugin 2.8 and earlier allows attackers to reserve, unreserve, unlock, and reset resources.
CVE-2020-2282
PUBLISHED: 2020-09-23
Jenkins Implied Labels Plugin 0.6 and earlier does not perform a permission check in an HTTP endpoint, allowing attackers with Overall/Read permission to configure the plugin.