How & When to Hire a Chief Security Officer | CSO Recruiters | Cowen Partners

      How & When to Hire a Chief Security Officer (CSO)

      Ransomware attacks have become increasingly popular in the last few years, with a recent attack hindering hundreds of businesses in 17 different countries. In many cybersecurity attacks, criminals infiltrate company networks to steal data so they can hold the critical information for a ransom. The criminals typically demand hundreds of thousands of dollars for the data to be restored. 

      Successful ransomware and other cybersecurity attacks can be detrimental to a business, which is why companies are investing more in cybersecurity. Online attacks, however, are not the only threats that face a business, which is why organizations need someone who can monitor all aspects of business security. 

      A CSO or CISO, depending on the organization, is responsible for overseeing and mitigating all types of risk within a company as well as safeguarding corporate assets. A lot of their duties involve developing and implementing strong security processes, ensuring compliance with various local and national regulations, and regularly assessing the latest cyber trends to identify new threats and keep the company safe. 

      When to Hire a CSO for Your Company

      An easy indicator that your company needs a CSO is the overall growth and size of your business. As a company grows, nearly every department must expand to accommodate more work and responsibilities. The security department is no exception. As you bring on more security officers, analysts, and other digital directors, it’ll quickly become evident that a manager is needed to oversee the day-to-day tasks and security strategy of the business. 

      Another sign that it’s time to hire a CSO is if security tasks are falling to people unrelated to the security department. A CSO ensures work distribution is going to the right people and that tasks are being handled by the appropriate departments. If your security isn’t being managed properly or is becoming too complex for the current management system, then it’s time to bring on a chief security officer. 

      How to Hire the Right CSO

      The safety of employees, as well as data security, is critical to a company. As you begin the search for a CSO, you need to identify the right candidate qualities and background for the role, as well as determine where you’ll find top talent, an experienced technology recruiter at Cowen Partners says. Here’s why and how to do that.

      How to Identify Ideal Candidates for the CSO Role

      Each company has security strengths and weaknesses that can impact the type of CSO needed. Review your company’s safety and security protocols and processes to identify weak points in your system. You may find that your physical security processes are solid while your cybersecurity needs a lot of attention. If this is the case, then you should look for a CSO candidate who has extensive knowledge of cybersecurity trends as well as experience implementing new data security systems.

      Another possibility is that your security teams need more top performers. If this is the case, then look for a CSO with exceptional leadership skills who can identify talent during the hiring process. The job description you create for the position should be unique to your company and identify the most important security needs for your business.

      Search for Talent in the Right Places

      Networking events are excellent places to identify promising CSO candidates. Converse with industry peers and take advantage of the opportunity to connect with CSOs you could bring over to your company. 

      Executive recruitment firms are another excellent option when it comes to finding top talent for your business. Recruiters are well-connected in the industry and often know of candidates they can reach out to right away when you have an open position.

      Recruitment is a great option for finding a CSO if you need to quickly find a candidate to fill the CSO role. However, if your current CSO will be leaving soon or if your business is growing and you know you’ll need a CSO in a few years, then look into talent acquisition strategies. 

      Talent acquisition is about building relationships with top-performing CSO candidates who you’d like to bring into the organization in the future. By creating a trusting and promising relationship with talented individuals, you can anticipate your company’s long-term needs and develop a talent pool for your business to use in the future. 


      Company security is not to be taken lightly. Cyberattacks can not only cost your business hundreds of thousands of dollars in ransom, but they can also threaten your company’s reputation. If customers don’t believe their information is safe with your business, they’ll find a company that is more reliable. Mitigate risk and anticipate threats by hiring a competent chief security officer to manage company security and protect your business. 

      CIO v. CISO: What’s the Difference?

      The chief information officer and chief information security officer are two C-level positions important to the success and security of a business. As technology evolves, these two positions must help a business adapt to the current technology trends and updates. Both roles focus on using technology to build a company’s IT infrastructure, however, the positions play two very different roles. Below is a summary of the main differences between a CIO and a CISO within an organization.

      Chief Information Officer Role: What Is a CIO?

      A CIO is responsible for managing a company’s IT operations. The CIO does this by ensuring the business stays up to date on the latest technology. The role requires a significant amount of research and analysis of the latest tech trends to determine which processes and systems are a good fit for the company.

      Once a beneficial technology is identified, the CIO then works to integrate the new system into the company. By regularly reviewing IT procedures and systems, a CIO will increase business efficiency and keep the company competitive.

      Chief Information Officer Duties & Responsibilities

      Some responsibilities of a CIO include (and are not limited to):

      • Managing all technology infrastructure
      • Overseeing IT operations and departments
      • Aligning and deploying technology to streamline business processes
      • Increasing the company’s bottom line
      • Focusing on the requirements of internal employees and internal business units

      CIO vs CISO vs CTO

      The chief information officer and chief information security officer are two C-level positions important to the success and security of a business. As technology evolves these two positions must help a business adapt to the current technology trends and updates. Both roles focus on using technology to build a company’s IT infrastructure, however, the positions play two very different roles. Below is a summary of the main differences between a CIO and a CISO within an organization.

      What Does a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Do?

      The CISO also works with IT but manages the security side of the business. Cybersecurity is vital to the wellbeing of a business, and the CISO role is responsible for managing data security risks. A solid risk management framework allows a business to successfully evaluate and prepare for risks involved with new deals and technology development. By developing a proper risk management system, a CISO will ultimately keep your company’s data safe and secure. 

      CISO Job Duties & Responsibilities

      A CISO may be responsible for the following:

      • Establishing the right security and governance practices
      • Enabling a framework for risk-free and scalable business operations
      • Evaluating the IT threat landscape
      • Devising policy and controls to reduce risk
      • Leading auditing and compliance initiatives

      What Does a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Do?

      Technology updates are vital inside the company, but they also need to happen for the customer. A b is responsible for identifying technology that can be used to enhance the customer experience. Since technology advances so quickly, the CTO role spends a significant amount of time researching the latest updates. The CTO also manages the research and development team to find innovative ways to improve offerings. Once a new solution is identified, the CTO then works with company engineers and developers to create the new product/service for customers. 

      In any business, customers expect the latest tech updates. They want the shopping experience to be fast and easy, and the products or services have to include the latest tech advancements. If a company falls too far behind on tech updates, customers will seek out a more modern product. Clearly, the CTO role is another indispensable position that will keep a company relevant and competitive. 

      CTO Job Duties & Responsibilities

      A CTO may be responsible for the following:

      • Owning the company’s tech offerings and external products
      • Using and reviewing technology to enhance the company’s external products
      • Managing the engineering and developer teams
      • Understand and touch all technologies the company deploys
      • Increasing the company’s top line
      • Aligning product architecture with business priorities
      • Collaborating with vendors on supply solutions

      CIO vs CISO vs CTO: Conclusion

      The CIO, CISO, and CTO roles may sound similar at face value, but they clearly serve very different purposes. Thse executive positions bring immense value to a business, but your company may need one more than the other right now. When looking to hire a CIO or CTO, ask whether you need to enhance technology within the company or for your customers first. If you need to focus on external products and services while driving innovation, then consider hiring a CTO. If you need to improve internal processes and enhance productivity, then hire a CIO. 

      Large companies can greatly benefit from having these C-suite executives. A CIO and CTO both contribute to company growth and both can positively impact revenue. If your business can afford it, these two c-suite positions have the potential to massively enhance your business by updating processes with the latest technology trends. 

      National Technology Search Firm | CSO Executive Recruiters

      Technology Search Firm | CSO Executive Recruiters
      Technology Search Firm | CSO Executive Recruiters

      Our hands-on technology recruiters have experience working with private, public, pre-IPO, and non-profit organizations. Clients are typically $50 million in revenue to Fortune 1000’s or have assets between $500 million to $15 billion. Successful placements span the entire C-Suite – CEO, Chief Information Officer, Chief Technology Officer, and include vice presidentgeneral counsel, and other director-level leadership roles.

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