Closing the Cyber Skills Gap: Why 2021 Is the Year of the Deputy

Closing the Cyber Skills Gap: Why 2021 Is the Year of the Deputy

No matter how good a CISO is, there aren’t enough hours in the day to handle the myriad of new responsibilities that have been thrown at them. To be effective and ensure a strong security posture, CISOs need a lieutenant to head up each domain that falls within their scope.

Given all the challenges CISOs are likely to face moving into the new year – from supporting a permanent remote workforce and accelerating digital transformation to preparing for an expanded threat landscape – it is more critical than ever that they bring on strong deputy CISOs.

2021: The Year Of The Security Lieutenant

Every year we talk about the shortage of cybersecurity personnel, but it is a challenge that continues to put pressure on companies generally and CISOs specifically. One of the biggest reasons for that challenge in the security industry is the lack of effective grooming for future leaders. When organizations need to hire a CISO, they generally have to look outside for a candidate with prior experience in the role. If this trend continues, the industry will be hard-pressed to ever overcome the shortage of qualified security leaders.

This year, the skills gap will be especially acute for small and medium-sized businesses who cannot afford to hire nor retain the right candidate. That is why finding and training security lieutenants from within needs to be a priority, both for CISOs to be successful in their role and to ensure their organization has qualified individuals who can take the reigns as CISOs of the future. Further, that training needs to start early since it can take an average of three to four years.

Mastering The Lieutenant Role

Deputy CISOs serve as the second in command, helping CISOs identify, track and respond to current security risks and oversee the implementation of new processes and strategy.

There are eight vital competencies that every security lieutenant – junior or otherwise – needs to master:

  • Understand the business. Security is different for every company. It is about mitigating risk, and if a lieutenant doesn’t fully understand the business’ crown jewels, they’ll waste a lot of time chasing down the wrong perceived risks. Lieutenants should spend at least a few weeks working on the front lines of the business to ensure they have a good understanding of how the organization’s systems are used in the real world.
  • Support the CISO in managing risk across security domains. This should be a given – managing risk is a huge part of security, and deputies should be heavily involved in this function.
  • Maintain lines of communication across regions and business units. For a long time, the security team has been siloed and kept separate from other company departments. It is time to break down those silos. Collaboration between the security team and the rest of the organization is a must, both to advance security objectives and to improve the overall health of the organization.
  • Oversee the implementation of security controls and policies. Every security deputy should have the technical knowledge and experience to identify and oversee the implementation of suitable security controls and policies starting with basic hygiene. Identity and access management (IAM) plays an important role, and lieutenants need to take the lead to ensure assets – from people to data – are kept safe.
  • Listen to business needs and look for ways to support them. Security should never be seen as a ‘blocker,’ but more as a business enabler. Security leaders and deputies should promote security by proactively building relationships across the organization and being able to explain how stronger security also supports business objectives.
  • Always be ready to embrace change. Change is a constant theme in security, and professionals should never shy away from it. They should drive cultural change based on risks and employee behavior and promote security throughout the organization.
  • Understand technology, risk, security and organizational context. Most security professionals are highly technical; however, far fewer have a deep understanding of how security fits into a wider business context. Even fewer have first-hand experience measuring, tracking and managing security risk in an evolving business environment.

This mixture of skills, knowledge and experience is critical. CISOs should choose deputies who actively work to develop these areas throughout their careers.

  • Educate the organization on cyber risk and readiness. Breaches from human error have cost companies $3.50M in 2019 alone, which can be at least partially attributed to the majority of employees’ lack of understanding about security and how their actions affect the security of the organization. Creating an enterprise-wide security culture is something all security professionals should strive to achieve, and it’s particularly important for security leaders.

Security isn’t something that can be achieved by the CISO alone. It requires the support of the full security team and the whole business. Through 2021, we will see how organizations and security leaders will start to include in their plans how to reduce the talent gap and leverage internal talent to train security lieutenants.

The next generation of security leaders will need to take every opportunity to educate their colleagues about security best practices and cyber risks, as well as how security is an enabler for achieving business outcomes to help grow their own skills and ultimately protect all the entry points to their organization.

This article originally appeared in Cyber Security Magazine as The CISO Legacy: Security Lieutenants. For additional CISO tips and strategies for closing the cybersecurity skills gap and preparing future security leaders, download Kudelski Security’s Executive Research Addressing the Security Leadership Talent Gap.

A New Enterprise Perimeter and the Cybersecurity Raising Challenges

A New Enterprise Perimeter and the Cybersecurity Raising Challenges

The security industry has faced a variety of challenges throughout 2020. The pandemic put pressure on security and IT operations and shone a spotlight on underlying issues many organizations were facing in terms of their digital transformation and security posture. If that wasn’t enough, the threat landscape also shifted and is now more volatile than ever.

As security leaders prepare to handle what lies ahead in 2021 and beyond, there are three key trends they should pay special attention to: the increase in adoption of policy-based security models, new ransomware threats and greater utilization of artificial intelligence.

Adoption of policy-based security models

The prospect of moving an onsite workforce to a remote setting had a huge impact on many organizations, as they realized they weren’t ready for such a dramatic shift. Moving to remote work due to COVID-19 exacerbated the shortcomings of the traditional enterprise perimeter security model. This led to more organizations choosing policy-based security models, such as Zero Trust, to ensure the protection of their employees while remote work continues to be a norm.

As remote work becomes more normalized – beyond the pandemic -, rather than equating trust to a corporate network location, a Zero Trust model analyzes information about the user, data, applications and devices to contextualize security risks and dynamically adapt access rights. Successful adoption will depend on organizations fully integrating various tools within their environment, from authentication systems and network security appliances to endpoint detection and response.

Increase in data breaches and ransomware attacks

Attackers are constantly changing their methods, resulting in new and evolving risks. It is important for companies to be prepared and aware of new threats to stay ahead of them and protect their data from any potential compromise.

Looking ahead, companies should expect to see an increase in ransomware, with bad actors increasingly threatening to expose encrypted files if they refuse to pay a ransom.Organizations have begun to do a good job in building, testing and operationalizing their office backup strategies to mitigate the risk of ransomware. Unfortunately, most of these organizations have failed to mitigate the actual risks, if data has been compromised before – whether directly from the company or through third parties – threat actors will still be able to gain a foothold into the company’s assets. The focus moving forward should fall into ensuring they have robust backup and data recovery strategies that can help address the systemic weaknesses attackers are exploiting.

We’re also going to see a considerable increase in the use of illicit Auth 2.0 grants to compromise accounts. In general, organizations have created better phishing awareness programs, increased multifactor authentication, and created rules to detect anomalous logons; however, attackers have shifted to trick users into Illicit Oauth 2.0 grants. To prepare, companies should limit which applications can request OAuth 2.0 grants from end users or disallow specific OAuth 2.0 scopes from ever being granted.

Utilization of Artificial Intelligence

We will see an increased utilization of AI particularly within the IoT and OT industries, given the technology’s ability to help automate many tasks to reduce costs and improve productivity. However, as security leaders decide to adopt AI, they will need to prioritize the integrity of the data and make sure basic cyber hygiene protocols are in place.

Utilizing AI without the basics – from asset and patch management to user awareness – will only exacerbate the number of breaches we will see, as simpler exploits will be able to leverage any weak spots.

Looking ahead to 2021 and beyond, organizations need to be prepared to secure their resources no matter where they are accessed from. Leaders will need to make sure they add security-based policies to their business continuity plans as well as understand all the threats’ shifts and how to adopt new technologies to mitigate potential risks.

This blog was originally featured in

Evolution to Becoming a Modern Day CISO

Evolution to Becoming a Modern Day CISO

Today’s top CISOs come from many different backgrounds: some have held more technical roles and decided to switch gears and learn the art of business, while others came from a strong compliance and policy background and were inspired by the machinations of security.

Whatever their origin, each CISO has its own blend of qualifications, experience, and hard-won skills. As a result, there’s no strictly defined career path for aspiring CISOs.

Where to start? Understanding the CISO Role

If you plan to ascend the ranks of security leadership, everything starts with understanding what new responsibilities you will have to undertake and your willingness to step up even before landing the job. Be proactive in finding solutions to the problems your organization is currently facing. Security practitioners that take on additional responsibility will demonstrate their added value, and in return, will gain skills and experience that are essential in a security leader.

The typical CISO oversees four main security pillars that include security architecture and engineering, operations, cyber resilience, and regulatory and IT compliance. However, they are increasingly taking ownership of other tasks such as risk and governance, business continuity, identity and access management (IAM), fraud prevention, and more.

Being a CISO isn’t just about being responsible for security functions A recent study by Kudelski Security discussed the need for modern CISOs to display a broad range of skills and expertise that go beyond technology. A CISO needs to guide the organization towards a proactive approach to security, manage risk tolerance, and advise the board on cyber risks while providing a security strategy.

In addition, today’s CISO has to be well-versed in business acumen and promote security as a business enabler with a clear return on investment (ROI). They will have to build relationships with other key stakeholders across the organization to identify opportunities to add value. A CISO also has to act as an educator, coaching, and empowering both technology teams to understand the business goals and business leaders to understand the value of security.

The Pathway to Becoming a CISO

While the career progression to become a CISO is far from linear, there are some steps that help create your own path. Among CISOs, CIOs, and security recruiters, there’s a clear consensus on the steps prospective security leaders should take to ready themselves for the role:

  • Get a mentor: A mentor will be critical in helping develop the skills and experience you need. Ideally, you will rely on your current CISO. If they are not suitable, your first step is to identify possible mentors outside the organization.
  • Build your skillset: Seek out opportunities to develop yourself, in both technical and ‘soft’ skills. Take advantage of any opportunity to expose yourself to a new aspect of security and leadership. Don’t wait to be asked, proactively seek ways to get involved in new projects within your team and others that might interest you.
  • Get education and certifications: Your organization should provide some support, but don’t rely on that exclusively. Ask your mentor and peers for advice on the best training to pursue and invest in yourself. Certifications might not be a requirement for some organizations, but they showcase the technical level of a candidate.
  • Work on your soft skills: The biggest differentiator between security practitioners and leaders is their ability to build relationships across the organization. Take every opportunity to develop your soft skills and expose yourself to situations that demand skills like communication, relationship building, and public speaking.
  • Get involved in the industry: The saying goes that ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. In this case, it’s both. Building your network and becoming known in the security industry is a great way to open opportunities for yourself and learn from the people that have gone through the same experience.
  • Boost your visibility with executives: Look for opportunities to assume responsibilities associated with a more senior role than you are currently in. The more exposure you have to senior-level business and executives, the more comfortable you’ll be in that environment.

At all stages of your path, express your career objectives clearly to your leaders, and ask them for development opportunities. If you do this consistently, you’ll gain the experience you need much more quickly than if you sit back and wait for a chance.

Building the Future of Security Leadership

The security field is growing rapidly, and CISOs are taking on an increasingly wide range of responsibilities. As cybercrime continues to grow, and organizations rely even more heavily on their digital infrastructure, strong leadership will be critical to ensuring the effective management of cyber risk.

The next generation of modern CISOs will have to face new challenges. Identifying and nurturing their hard and soft skills will be paramount as both their knowledge of security and the business will help them navigate a constantly evolving security landscape and become the bridge between technologists and business executives.

This article was originally featured in Infosecurity Magazine.

Recruiting the Future of Security: Finding Future CISOs

Recruiting the Future of Security: Finding Future CISOs

It is no secret that finding and recruiting strong Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) candidates is far from easy. Many CISOs typically stay in a role for a few years and subsequently are not able to dedicate adequate time to the development of junior leaders who could become the next wave of security leaders.

Most organizations are forced to look externally for the experience they require. However, looking for outside hires also contributes to the shortage of potential internal leaders, as skilled professionals are often overlooked. For the security industry to thrive, this needs to change, and it starts with grooming the next generation of leaders.

The Role of the Security Lieutenant

A CISO needs a strong bench of lieutenants to take control of the different security areas within the company. These leaders will play a critical role in the success of the security team, as well as the organization as a whole. The strongest of these leaders are ideal candidates to be groomed into future CISOs.

Selecting one of your leaders for grooming starts with those who are already the head of a primary security function such as operations, engineering and architecture, or IT compliance. But the CISO role is larger than those areas and a lieutenant should be able to handle duties that can range from supporting risk management across security domains to understanding business and technology needs, as well as supporting education on cyber risks.

Potential future CISOs also need a set of ‘soft’ skills that can be further developed in-role. Candidates should have the ability to manage relationships and communicate with leaders outside of the security function. An understanding of how security fits into wider business objectives is also important, and it helps if a candidate has already displayed non-technical leadership ability and a desire to take on additional responsibilities.

Security is a constantly evolving field, so above all, lieutenants must have the drive to continually develop their skills and gain experience from all interactions, both inside and outside their own department. An understanding of financial concepts and portfolio management are also essential skills to develop.

Challenges Recruiting Security Deputies

Recruiting for security roles is never easy. The challenge stems from an evolving threat landscape that increases pressure from internal stakeholders, outside parties and customers. In order to meet new industry requirements, security programs are growing in scope and the leadership roles have to spread over multiple domains such as fraud, privacy, risk and physical security.

While recruiting for lieutenant roles, expect to come up against at least four challenges:

  • Recruitment Timeline: On average, it takes seven months to recruit the right security leader. During that time, the team will have to manage the same amount of work and responsibilities with less support.
  • Recruitment Costs: For years there has been a continual upward trend in the cost of recruiting and retaining security roles. Strong candidates are in high demand, and organizations are willing to pay the market price for strong expertise. If you want to attract and retain the best talent, it’s important to be competitive and understand what other companies offer in terms of benefits and on the job perks.
  • Finding the Right Skill Mix: Being an effective leader requires a fine balance of technical expertise, soft skills, business acumen and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations. Unsurprisingly, few candidates possess this balance. Successful candidates will need to develop those skills and current leaders will need to provide situational training and exposure to upper management. This experience is critical in their development and isn’t widely available to prospective security leaders.
  • Cultural Match: It is also important to recruit candidates that are a good cultural fit for your organization. To help ensure this, include HR and other internal experts in the evaluation process. It’s important that all levels of the CISO organization are represented in the interview process. Just having a candidate meet with the management team does not provide a sufficient picture of how they will fit with the full team. For the same reason, it’s also a good idea to have them interview with business customers.

Internal vs. External Recruitment

There’s an age-old argument about whether internal or external recruitment is a better source of security talent. And generally, it comes down to the preferences of the incumbent CISO. However, the availability of internal resources, the type of expertise, and/or experience needed for the role also plays an important role. The Cyber Business Executive Research: Building the Future of Security Leadership report, lays down some of the main traits CISOs and some of the top security leadership recruiters in the industry believe may help identify and recruit strong security deputies:

  1. For internal recruitment:
    • It is critical to always hire candidates with solid technical competencies.
    • Look for candidates with the ‘soft’ skills needed for leadership and a readiness to be trained.
    • Identify likely successors to your current security leadership and create a plan for their development.
    • Identify potential deputies early to allow them time for growth. It can take years to prepare a promising candidate for even junior leadership roles.
  2. For external recruitment:
    • Use your current CISO’s network to identify candidates. It helps if your CISO has an established following in the industry.
    • Maintain a continuous pipeline of potential candidates, as security roles turn over frequently.
    • Proactively hunt for candidates. Many organizations have aspiring candidates, but no leadership positions for them to fill.
    • Build relationships with career advisors that provide continuous cybersecurity education, they have constant access to experienced applicants.

Building the Future of Security Leadership

The security field is growing rapidly, and CISOs are taking on an increasingly wide range of responsibilities. As cybercrime continues to grow, and organizations rely even more heavily on their digital infrastructure, strong leadership will be critical to ensuring the effective management of cyber risks. Finding, recruiting, and developing the next generation of modern CISOs is not an easy task, but will pay dividends if done right.

Kudelski Security’s client advisory council recently released a report devoted to finding the next generation of security leaders. Download the report today if you’re looking to take that next step in your career.

This article was originally featured in Security Magazine.

CISO by Design: A Blueprint for Becoming a CISO

CISO by Design: A Blueprint for Becoming a CISO

The role of chief information security officer has never been more critical or in-demand, and the talent pool has not been able to keep up. For aspiring CISOs, that means there has never been a better time to hone skills and fill knowledge and experience gaps in order to take the next step in their careers. But where to start?

After conducting interviews with more than 100 CISOs and recruiters, we’ve developed a blueprint for security professionals to follow as they embark on the path to becoming a CISO. This article is based on a webinar: The Path to Becoming a CISO: 5 Things to Consider, 5 Things to Avoid  led by CISO talent from Kudelski Security.

Modern CISO Roles and Responsibilities

Now that cybersecurity has the attention of executives and boards of directors, CISOs have assumed new responsibilities outside of managing the business’ security program.

The CISO must be able to connect the cybersecurity strategy to business drivers, and they must be able to communicate the strategy in a way that resonates with both the C-suite and technical audiences. They must also serve as security evangelists, collaborating with other organizational leaders to build a security agenda that is shared by all departments, not just IT.

In addition to increased executive visibility, “scope creep” is on the rise, expanding the CISOs role to include, for example, privacy, fraud, physical security, risk, and compliance. Hiring the right CISO “lieutenants” to oversee management of these new security domains as well as more traditional domains is a critical responsibility for modern CISOs.

CISO Job Requirements and Skills

Expanded CISO responsibilities have shifted the requirements and skills required of a CISO from technically focused to more of an even split of technical and business skills. Security leaders in our survey ranked business acumen and soft skills (e.g., empathy and communication) first and second, respectively, as the most important skills for today’s CISOs to possess.

Recruiters in our surveys noted that successful CISO candidates are often process-oriented. They understand metrics, and they have experience holding people accountable and seeing projects through to completion. Often, those candidates have a background in security operations, IT risk and compliance management, security consulting, network management, or IT engineering and infrastructure.

Your Blueprint to Becoming a CISO

If the role of the CISO as described above aligns with your career objectives, it’s time to start charting a course. As we spoke with security leaders, we identified the following five steps that each had in common on their path to becoming a CISO, more details of which can be found in the 8-page report Building the Future of Security Leadership

Step 1: Diversify your skillset beyond technical and operational skills

The modern CISO skillset should be split 50/50 between technical and business skills. This helps to maintain credibility within the security organization but also to build trust with other departments in the organization, including the C-suite and board of directors. Presentation skills are a must. Good CISOs should be able to present complex topics to senior and operational levels.

Top technical skills to acquire:

  • Understanding of technology
  • Technical security
  • Governance, risk compliance
  • Security operations

Top business skills to acquire:

  • Leadership development
  • Relationship management
  • Presentation skills
  • Adaptability

Degrees and certifications can also be helpful for CISOs to have in their toolkit. It’s a good rule of thumb to obtain at least one of the following certifications to be considered for the role:

  • CISSP – Certified Information Security Systems Professional from (ISC)2
  • CISA – Certified Information Systems Auditor certification from ISACA
  • CISM – Certified Information Security Manager
  • ICT Security Expert (Swiss Federal Diploma, for those working in Switzerland)

Step 2: Find a leadership mentor to guide your development

Finding a mentor is a wonderful way to develop skills and receive guidance on your path to becoming a CISO. A good place to start is within your own organization. Are there security leaders you admire or would like to emulate?

You can also look externally to security leaders at other organizations or to professional coaches who specialize in the area you wish to further develop, e.g. relationship management, leadership, or presenting.

Whichever path you choose, be proactive in developing the mentorship. Be proactive with your outreach and your questions; don’t wait for the mentor to engage.

Step 3: Look out for new opportunities to build experience

Experience is often valued more than technical skill when evaluating C-level candidates, and it’s important to look for opportunities that give you exposure and visibility to the business, where you can learn how to connect security to business drivers and navigate the political environment.

That’s not to say you should ignore technical experience altogether. Instead, shift from gaining deep technical experience to becoming more of a technology generalist who has knowledge across security domains.

Step 4: Increase involvement in the cybersecurity industry

There are many avenues in which to participate in the cybersecurity industry, but all share a common goal of building your network and presence inside your organization and within the industry at large.

Top channels for building your industry network:

  • Participate in research projects
  • Be active in social media discussions about cybersecurity
  • Participate in local security groups
  • Seek out opportunities to speak at industry events
  • Contribute articles or interviews in the press

Step 5: Apply and get hired or promoted to CISO

With Steps 1-4 in check, it’s time to seek out open opportunities. According to Jason Hicks, Kudelski Security’s Global CISO, your first CISO job likely won’t be at a large enterprise, unless you’re promoted from within, so it’s a good strategy to refine your search to openings at small and medium-sized enterprises.

Once you have identified the right opportunities, security recruiters we interviewed recommend to:

  • Do your homework on the organization
  • Understand and speak to the organization’s challenges
  • Discuss security at a strategic level, rather than at a technical or operational level

And don’t forget to dress for success! It’s important for CISO hopefuls to have an executive presence that instills confidence at all levels of the organization.

So there you have it, a blueprint for how to become a CISO. This is just a small sampling of the advice and recommendations we compiled as part of our recent report Cyber Business Executive Research: Building the Future of Security Leadership. To read the full report, visit:

The Future of Security Leadership

The Future of Security Leadership

The role of the CISO is changing. What makes a good security leader depends on a number of ever-changing factors. Jason Hicks, Global CISO at Kudelski Security, recently joined the UberKnowledge podcast to talk about the future of security leadership. He covers the challenges of managing a security team, communication skills for technical leaders, coping with scope creep, and the rise of the branded CISO.

Did you find the podcast interesting? You can learn more about what it takes to become a CISO in our latest executive research. Click here to download the report.

  • 01:40 — It is critical to the success of a security program for the CISO to speak business.
  • 04:14 — “You have to be one to lead one” still holds true.
  • 06:41 — The rise of the branded CISO.
  • 11:24 — The CISO tenure remains short and there are several reasons why.
  • 14:29 — Coping with scope creep.
  • 17:11 — Top three issues for CISOs right now.