What to Look for When Hiring for Cybersecurity | CTO Recruiters | Technology Executive Search

What to Look for When Hiring for Cybersecurity

While the importance of cybersecurity has long been known, companies have been slower to recognize the need for a cybersecurity strategist within their ranks. Many leaders assume that a solid cybersecurity plan is only required for businesses that house significant amounts of information on their customers, such as banks, the government, and tech powerhouses. However, the reality is that most companies have lots of data on their customers, and those that don’t protect the data are at risk of being hacked.

The recent data breaches of Colonial Pipeline and SolarWinds have shown that even smaller companies can be the target of hackers and cybercriminals. It takes one successful data breach to bring a company to its knees. Thus, having someone who can mitigate cybersecurity risks and ensure that the appropriate measures are taken to protect the company is crucial. 

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What Are the Different

Types of Cybersecurity Roles?

A cybersecurity role can range from a staff member to a high-level executive, such as a CISO. Staff members often perform more routine functions, such as monitoring threats, installing appropriate software, and performing testing.

A CISO is considered to be a top strategist and:

  • Helps the company mitigate its overall security risks through in-depth frameworks and implementation of cyber governance and risk policies
  • Works with other executive team members and the board of directors to ensure operational decisions consider the potential for cyberattacks

How Important Is Cybersecurity?

In a word: very. As more companies conduct their activities on the internet and in the cloud, there is an increased risk for potential hacks. The fintech industry has exploded over the past decade, leading to a wealth of opportunities for cybercriminals to pounce on.

Ensuring that fintech companies and their traditional counterparts who have chosen to conduct more activities online are prepared is key to preventing attacks. 

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Should All Companies Have a CISO?

Not necessarily. The most basic companies that conduct regular transactions on-site are less likely to need a full-blown CISO. Mom-and-pop retailers, small businesses, and local non-chain restaurants won’t require the assistance of an executive CISO. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t experience a cyberattack. They should still include IT and basic cybersecurity protection as part of their business plans.

The most advanced tech companies need a CISO. These include top tech companies, such as Google, Apple, and Meta. However, just because a tech company doesn’t have household name recognition doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have a robust cybersecurity strategy. 

Small and mid-sized tech companies are top targets for cybercriminals, especially if they don’t have a CISO (and if they are in the bitcoin and crypto industry). Criminals know that these companies may have information that would be attractive to them, and they look for holes in these businesses’ IT structure to compromise.

What Should Companies Look for When Hiring a CISO?

It can be challenging to find a CISO. Many cybersecurity professionals recognize the importance of keeping personal information off the internet, so you may not be able to find them through LinkedIn. Instead, a deeper search may be required through recruiting firms or professional networks. When seeking a CISO, look for the following critical skills and qualities, including:

  1. An Understanding of Cybersecurity Risks
  2. An Ability to Communicate at the Executive Level
  3. A Good Fit in Terms of the Organization’s Needs
  4. An Understanding of Potential for Disruptions with Remote Work

Here’s a closer look at each of these qualities and how they contribute to the success of a CISO, as well as a company’s overall cybersecurity objectives.

1. An Understanding of Cybersecurity Risks

Risks associated with cybersecurity are constantly evolving. The IT degree earned 20 years ago isn’t nearly enough to understand today’s technology. An educated CISO must:

  • Be willing to adapt to changing tech and be continuously learning
  • Understand the security standards set by NIST and ISO.

Additional certifications, such as a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), are helpful.

2. An Ability to Communicate at the Executive Level

IT professionals are famous for speaking in terms that only fellow technophiles can understand. While this may be fine for the staff or lower-level management professionals in cybersecurity, it’s not okay at the board level. 

CISOs must be able to communicate clearly with other executives across different functions. These executives are not likely to have the in-depth experience and knowledge of cybersecurity that a CISO possesses. Using layman’s terms will be imperative to ensure that executives understand the risks to their organization and a CISO’s plans to mitigate them.

3. A Good Fit in Terms of the Organization’s Needs

The more critical an organization is to consumers, the government, and society, the more knowledge and experience a CISO should have. The most visible CISOs should be highly qualified and knowledgeable about all topics in cybersecurity. They should be able to pinpoint risks associated with specific industries and take action to reduce them. If a company is involved in acquisitions or intellectual property, the CISO should be part of the decision-making process.

Smaller organizations aren’t likely to need as extensive of a cybersecurity plan. They can hire someone with moderate cybersecurity knowledge to establish basic hacking protections and care for essential data.

4. An Understanding of the Potential for Disruptions with Remote Work

Companies that perform most of their activities remotely need to have a clear cybersecurity plan in place. Most workers will not have a thorough knowledge of appropriate cybersecurity risk management methods. Thus, adopting clear policies and requiring specific software is crucial for preventing potential attacks. 

A CISO overseeing a company working in a virtual environment can ensure that the business has adequate protections to defend it from hacks. Oftentimes, remote employees choose to work from locations outside the home, such as coffee shops or coworking sites. 

Typically, coworking sites and coffee shops use open networks that anyone can access. Requiring that employees access a VPN before logging in is one tool that can protect business data. Good CISOs will know the appropriate tools for protection in a remote work environment.

Final Thoughts on Hiring for Cybersecurity

As more businesses perform their work in the cloud, greater cyber protection will be required to protect them from hacks and data leaks. Ensuring that you have a team on board that can adequately safeguard from cybercriminals is essential. The type of cybersecurity team required will be primarily dictated by how large the company is and the risks a data breach could have to the business, its customers, and society. When hiring a cybersecurity team, make sure they have the knowledge and skills you need to mitigate potential future risks.

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CIOs vs. CTOs

The Difference Between a CIO versus a CTO & Why It Matters

When it comes to managing a company’s technology, there are two executive-level positions that take the lead: Chief information officer (CIO) and chief technology officer (CTO). People mistakenly view these two positions in the same capacity because they both involve technology. However, a CIO and CTO have very different operating functions.

Below are summaries of each role that showcase the vast difference between the two positions.

What Does a CIO Do?

A CIO is responsible for handling a company’s infrastructure as well as the IT operations. The CIO finds ways to implement new technology internally that will make business processes more efficient and effective. For example, if a business process can be automated, the CIO will determine the best automation system to use and how to implement it at the company. The CIO manages the security and operations for a business, as well.

The role of a CIO is paramount to success in today’s technology-reliant world. If a business cannot keep up with the latest technology infrastructure updates, the company will eventually become obsolete. If your company has been struggling with productivity, this is a role that can improve internal business processes.

Responsibilities of a Chief Information Officer

Some responsibilities of a CIO include, but 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 (CIO) and chief information security officer (CISO) 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 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.

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CISO Job Duties

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 CTO Do?

Technology updates are vital inside the company, but they also need to happen for the customer. A CTO 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
  • Manages the research and development team to find innovative ways to improve offerings
  • Works with company engineers and developers, once a new solution is identified, 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 and CTO roles may sound similar at face value, but they clearly serve very different purposes. Bother executive-level 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 would benefit from having both roles on staff. 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.

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Clients span every industry, are typically $50 million plus in revenue or between $1B and $15B in assets and successful placements include Chief Information Officer CIO, Chief Technology Officer CTO SaaS, Chief Information Security Officer CISO, VP Cybersecurity, VP Information Technology, VP Product, and include and Director level leadership roles.

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