What is a CISO / CSO (Chief Information Security Officer)?

What is a CISO / CSO (Chief Information Security Officer)?
The Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) assumes the role of the person responsible for information security in a company or organization. He is part of the management and ensures that information and technologies are protected.

What is a CISO / CSO (Chief Information Security Officer)?

The abbreviation CISO stands for the English term Chief Information Security Officer and refers to a position in an organization or company that is responsible for the security of information and information technology. Depending on the company or organization, the duties of the CISO can vary. Often, they can be derived from information security standards or norms.

As part of the executive team, the chief information security officer usually reports directly to the chief executive officer (CEO). IT security is only part of the CISO’s responsibilities. There are additional responsibilities in risk management and securing all information assets (including information on paper and in other forms). Certification courses enable the CISO to identify and perform his or her duties.

The various duties of a chief information security officer

A chief information security officer has a variety of duties to perform, which may vary from organization to organization. Here is a brief overview of the most important tasks of the CISO:

  • Identifying all of the organization’s security-related processes.
  • Conducting audits to determine the status of implementation of security regulations
  • Determining the scope of security-related measures
  • Establishing guidelines and goals for security
  • Carrying out risk analyses and deriving measures
  • Establishing an information security management system (ISMS)
  • Establishing, editing, and adapting security guidelines
  • Creation of a problem awareness in dealing with information and information technology
  • Establishment of an organizational unit that implements the security objectives
  • Conducting information security training and campaigns
  • Ensuring data protection
  • Overseeing access and identity management
  • Collaborating with other executives and the chief security officer (CSO) or chief information officer (CIO)
  • Delineation of CISO, CSO, and CIO.
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Often the job descriptions of Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Chief Security Officer (CSO), and Chief Information Officer (CIO) are used in similar contexts. In certain areas, there may be an overlap of duties. Nevertheless, the three roles can be clearly distinguished from one another.

While the focus of the CISO is on the security of information and data, the CSO (Chief Security Officer) is more concerned with the security of the technical and physical infrastructure. This includes building protection, personal protection, fire protection, protection against burglaries, or defense against terrorism. In terms of hierarchy, the CISO and CSO are on the same level. The CIO (Chief Information Manager) is responsible for the smooth operation of the ICT infrastructure.

Training and certification of the Chief Information Security Officer

There is no specific training for the CISO. In most cases, specialists and managers from the field of information security take on this role in an organization. Certificates can be used to prove the suitability and competence of the Chief Information Security Officer. The following certifications are available in this area:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) – developed by ISC2 (International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium)
  • Teletrust Information Security Professional (TISP) – offered by the German IT security association Teletrust
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) – offered by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA)
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) – offered by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA)
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