CISO vs. CSO – What Are the Differences?

CISO vs. CSO - What Are the Differences?

They sound very similar and yet they are different: the Information (Chief) Security Officer (CSO) and the (Chief) Information Security Officer (CISO). While the Information Security Officer is concerned with the security of data and information, the Security Officer is responsible for the overall security of the organization.

Both the Information Security Officer and the Security Officer work in the security area of a company. Despite having similar job titles, the two security professions differ in some aspects, not the least of which is the possible salary and, of course, their responsibilities.

Tasks of the Security Officer

The Security Officer is responsible for the security of a company. He or she usually works as part of a smaller or larger team or is a Chief Security Officer (CSO) who leads the team. The main areas of responsibility are general operational security and information security. Depending on the size of the company, the security officer is responsible for one or both areas.

In the course of his work, he develops security concepts for the company. These can relate to IT, data and information security as well as organizational or mechanical security. In addition to developing these concepts, he is also responsible for implementing and monitoring them.

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In addition, he evaluates existing concepts, continuously improves them and specifically searches for security gaps or risks in order to eliminate or prevent them.

Tasks of the Information Security Officer

The Information Security Officer is responsible for information security – he can therefore be regarded as a specialized security officer. He is exclusively responsible for cyber security and provides suitable solutions and concepts. He implements these throughout the company and develops them further. He controls existing IT concepts, eliminates errors and recognizes possible cyber threats.

He is also responsible for managing employee access rights. He determines who has access to which tools. The more senior Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is also responsible for the continuing education and training of team members and other employees.

Training, qualifications and certificates

To work as a security officer or information security officer, a number of qualifications are required. In addition, there are knowledge and also certificates that are beneficial.

Qualifications of the Security Officer

So far, there is no separate training for Security Officer, which is why there is no one right training path. For this position, a degree in the STEM field is a good prerequisite, ideally with a focus in the (IT) security sector.

Much more important than the educational path is several years of professional experience. This is because it proves the security officer’s professional competence and serves as evidence that the person has excellent knowledge of security technology, system administration and programming.

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It is also advantageous to have relevant certifications, such as Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or Certified Information Security Manager (CISM).

Qualifications of the Information Security Officer

The Information Security Officer also needs a degree, but here computer science or a professionally related degree is required. This is the best preparation for the challenges in the daily work of an information security officer. In addition, relevant practical experience is a must, and ideally one should already have been able to familiarize oneself deeply with the subject matter.

In addition to training, technical knowledge is the most important factor. A sound knowledge of security technologies is a prerequisite, as are programming skills and experience in cybersecurity management, cloud security, and the analysis and further development of cybersecurity concepts. As a CISO, project management and consulting are also among the core tasks.

It is advantageous to have corresponding certificates that prove the expertise of the respective person. The most important of these include Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP).

Average salary

CISO vs. CSO - What Are the Differences?

The salary of a security officer or information security officer depends on many factors. The most important factor is the size of the company, because in most cases you earn more in larger companies than in smaller ones. In addition, the professional experience, the company location and the industry are also decisive for the salary.

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Salary of the Security Officer

Depending on the factors mentioned above, the average salary for a Security Officer is around 60,000-100,000 euros per year. A Chief Security Officer earns approximately 80,000 to 120,000 euros per year. However, higher salaries are possible with appropriate professional experience.

Salary of the Information Security Officer

The salary of an Information Security Officer depends on the same factors. On average, however, it is somewhat higher than for the security officer. This is due to the greater specialization. You can expect to earn around 85,000-120,000 euros per year. The CISO earns an average of around 171,000 euros per year – or more if he or she has the necessary experience.


Although the Security Officer and also the Information Security Officer are in the field of security, their tasks differ. The Security Officer is a universal employee who takes care of all operational security. The Information Security Manager, on the other hand, specializes in IT security. Accordingly, their daily tasks differ. On average, the Information Security Manager’s salary is slightly higher than the Security Officer’s, although the size of the company and professional experience can narrow the gap.