Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) or Chief Security Officer (CSO), what is the difference between them? Very little actually for most businesses they operate in making them essentially the same role. However, depending on the business, the CSO can have a much different role compared to the relatively standard role of a CISO.
Difference between CSO and CISO
The Chief Security Officer (CSO) is the executive leader responsible for the security of the physical and digital assets of the business. The Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is the executive leader responsible for the security of digital information assets. Given this, at a high level, the CSO carries the same responsibilities as the CISO in many businesses but is also responsible for the security of physical assets.
So why do Companies have choose one title over the other?
You would likely use the CISO title: If, for example, your business is a SaaS offering, the importance of your cyber security may be paramount for the functioning of your business, and you have very few physical assets. Or perhaps your workforce is entirely remote. In these examples, having a purely focused cyber security position as a CISO makes the most sense. Additionally, having this role shows your board, investors, and customers that cyber security is critical in your business.
You would likely use the CSO title: If your business consists of a series of large factories, casinos, mines, or banks. You have a lot of costly physical assets, which need world-class leadership to ensure their security. This can also include digital assets, such as the infrastructure that supports your company. In this case, someone who is experienced in managing both is a better choice, and having the role of CSO will better represent your business needs in security.
Given this, a CISO may also be responsible for the physical security of server rooms and the contents of remote employee laptops. Generally, the security of the physical assets will be managed by someone else, such as the COO, as it may just be secure enough with the security provided by the buildings being leased.
Additionally, the CSO may not be as technically adept as a dedicated CISO in cyber security, privacy, and data security. Therefore they may rely on third parties to cover that in their team.
However, these names can be pretty fluid, and a CSO in some businesses can be performing the same role as a CISO in another.
Is the process to hire them different?
There are small differences in the process of hiring both. I have developed a How to hire a CISO guide and a How to hire a CSO. Check them out to learn more!
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