Cybersecurity Risk has Changed the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Role

3 minute read

January 2021

In the past, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) was responsible for all things technology, but as more and more data became digitalized and shared electronically, including personal identifiable information, intellectual property, legally confidential documents, customer data, employee data, credit card information, and much more, the importance of information security grew—and so did the CISO role.  

From Tactical to Strategic: the CISO Role is Evolving

Initially, CISOs were tactical managers who operated at the direction of their CIOs — they addressed specific security needs and implemented and managed tools. The majority of the CISO role was reactive — they put out the fires, and there were a lot of fires to put out.

But constantly playing defense was a losing game; reacting to ever increasing and more sophisticated threats wasn’t working. To address this, a shift occurred from reactive to proactive; by implementing and integrating policies and best practices CISOs helped strengthen their organizations’ security posture and prevented issues from occurring.

The change was successful and the CISO position evolved in a meaningful way. Now CISOs are often independent entities responsible for information security enterprise-wide, including in the CIO’s office.

Counted on to protect an organization’s brand, intellectual property, and data, it is common for CISOs to report into quarterly Board of Directors (BoD) meetings. They are expected to develop, implement, and oversee their organization’s enterprise risk strategy and advise the BoD on strategic decisions it may be considering.

More Responsibility and Greater Accountability in the CISO Role

The CISO role is demanding and stressful and the average lifespan of a CISO at an organization is only two years!

To perform effectively CISOs need to have a big picture, holistic view of their organization. It is essential for strategy development, budgeting, gap identification, prioritization, program measurement, and reporting — and for their careers.

Cybersecurity Program Management — Providing the Holistic View

The CISO has a lot to manage, and a lot to communicate. CISOs are expected to know the lay of the land across their enterprise, and ensure the organization has the right controls in place to manage cybersecurity threats and risks across applications, systems, facilities and third parties.

Responsible for cyber-related inquiries from auditors, examiners, customers, lines of business and more, it is imperative they respond keenly to all challenges that come their way.

ProcessUnity’s Cybersecurity Program Management (CPM) software is designed specifically for and empowers the CISO to create and manage a risk-aware culture with a consistent, automated process for evaluating and remediating cybersecurity risk.

Crucial to insight and communication, its powerful reporting provides real-time visibility into the “state of the state” of a CISO’s cybersecurity program, with interactive dashboards that deliver at-a-glance insight into the level of threats, risks, policies, controls, issues and incidents enterprise-wide.

ProcessUnity’s CPM helps CISOs remain organized and effectively communicate across an organization, specifically to the BoD and executive team. With ProcessUnity’s cybersecurity dashboards, the CISO is always ready and able to answer the four key questions consistently presented by the BoD and executive team:

  • What are the cybersecurity risks to the business?
  • What can be done to address the vulnerabilities?
  • How long will the resolution take to implement?
  • What’s the cost?

To learn how your organization can empower its CISO, strengthen its security posture and execute strategically with Cybersecurity Program Management, download the ProcessUnity Cybersecurity Program Management datasheet or contact us at [email protected].

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ProcessUnity is a leading provider of cloud-based applications for risk and compliance management. The company’s software as a service (SaaS) platform gives organizations the control to assess, measure, and mitigate risk and to ensure the optimal performance of key business processes. ProcessUnity’s flagship solution, ProcessUnity Vendor Risk Management, protects companies and their brands by reducing risks from third-party vendors and suppliers. ProcessUnity helps customers effectively and efficiently assess and monitor both new and existing vendors – from initial due diligence and onboarding through termination. Headquartered outside of Boston, Massachusetts, ProcessUnity is used by the world’s leading financial service firms and commercial enterprises. For more information, visit