How The Changing Cybersecurity

Landscape Is Transforming
The Role Of CISOs In 2024?


How The Changing Cybersecurity Landscape Is Transforming The Role Of CISOs In 2024?

Gone are the days when the role of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) was strictly technical. With the emergence of new threats, technologies, targeted attacks, and simultaneous business expansion, the role now combines both the technical and business side of things.

In the current scenario, CISOs need to influence corporate strategy and guide their organization through the complexities of cybersecurity. Moreover, the evolution of the role of CISO is not only a response to the growing cyber threat landscape but also a necessary measure to outrun potential risks.

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of the changing expectations from CISOs, let’s look at some of the critical drivers of this paradigm shift in 2024.

AI-Powered Cybersecurity Risks

AI-powered cyber attacks are among the major concerns for CISOs in 2024. It is growing exponentially with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) adoption. Cyber attackers now leverage AI tools to automate phishing attacks, create evasive malware, and reduce the development time for these threats. Thus, the cyber attacks once accomplished by highly skilled hackers are now simply augmented by AI.

The way forward for any organization is to continuously improve cyber resilience by following the best practices, implementing comprehensive defense tools, and having a proper risk governance framework.

Advanced Persistent Threats (APT)

Earlier cyber attack defense mechanisms and incident responses used to be simpler. If the attackers encountered resistance, they would give up the attack. But with APT, that’s not the case, and you need comprehensive defense tools that will prevent and reveal multiple threats.

APTs are sophisticated cyber attacks launched by skilled hackers. They aim to breach networks, maintain long-term access without detection, and steal sensitive information. According to Allied Market Research, the global APT market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20.5% from 2022 to 2030 and hit a record high of $30.9 billion.” Therefore, CISOs must employ stringent measures to identify and prevent growing APTs. Endpoint visibility and protection is a proactive solution to APT. Organizations need to install Endpoint Defense and Response (EDR) in their system to boost endpoint visibility, and it will restrict entry to cyber criminals.

Supply Chain Risks

Supply chains are becoming more competent with the help of DevOps and agile software development practices, which speed up the development cycle. However, these practices often result in unquestioningly trusting third-party code and vendor applications, which could expose the supply chain to cyber threats, including malware and ransomware.

As per the research conducted by N-able in 2023, 90% of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) suffered cyber attacks in the previous 18 months. Such attacks will put client data at risk. So, when choosing third-party service providers, CISOs must be more careful.

Thus, creating automated security guardrails and integrating them into every stage of development will help your organization manage supply chain risks. These guardrails can catch vulnerable code before development and conduct vulnerability scanning in runtime environments.

Attacks on Cloud Environments

Improperly configured cloud environments give attackers easy access without the need to find and exploit a vulnerability. As stated in the Palo Alto Networks report, such misconfigurations alone contribute to 65% of observed cloud security incidents.

CISOs must safeguard Identity and Access Management (IAM) permissions to ensure cloud security. They need to continuously check their cloud environment for misconfigurations and overly broad permissions. Additionally, identify exposed IAM access keys and monitor IAM access keys to cloud resources.

To secure their cloud environments, CISOs can restrict access to Cloud Services Provider (CSP) consoles, APIs, and command-line interfaces with Role-Based Access Control (RBAC). CISOs should also invest in cloud security platforms to routinely monitor cloud environments for misconfigurations.

Operational Technology (OT) Cyber Threats

CISOs often focus on securing enterprise IT networks alone, leaving OT vulnerable. Consequentially, OT cybersecurity concerns are increasing worldwide.

Ransomware attacks targeting OT environments are expected to spike in 2024. As per the ‘Global state of industrial cybersecurity’ published in 2023, IT/OT was severely impacted during ransomware attacks, and several enterprises incurred substantial financial losses.

Therefore, it is essential to identify all the industrial assets, monitor their status, protect them against plant disruptions, and conduct granular vulnerability assessments. Also, it’s essential to have a cyber insurance policy.

The Future of CISOs: A Prediction for 2024 and Beyond

The role of the CISO is on a fast track to transformation. Industry leaders anticipate a future where CISOs are not just cybersecurity commanders but strategic business partners driving security integration across the organization. Here’s what industry leaders expect from CISOs of tomorrow:

  • Inculcate a more proactive mindset : CISOs traditionally focused on patching vulnerabilities after breaches. Now, proactive threat intelligence gathering is crucial. Utilize threat feeds, invest in vulnerability scanning tools, and conduct regular penetration testing (pentest) to identify and prioritize threats before they exploit weaknesses.
  • Consider security as a business function : Security can’t be an afterthought. Integrate security considerations into every stage of the business lifecycle, from product development to supply chain management—partner with business unit leaders to understand their risk tolerance and tailor security controls accordingly.
  • Become data-driven by choice : Security decisions should be based on data, not intuition. CIOS should invest in security information and event management (SIEM) systems to collate and analyze security data. They can use metrics to identify trends, prioritize vulnerabilities based on potential impact, and measure the effectiveness of security controls.
  • Embrace automation and orchestration as a trusted partner : Security automation and orchestration (SOAR) tools can free CISOs from tedious tasks like log analysis, security patching, and incident response workflows. This will allow CISOs to focus on strategic initiatives like security architecture design, risk management planning, and building a strong security culture within the organization.
  • Be more collaborative with solid communication : Effective communication and collaboration are essential. CISOs should build strong relationships with key organizational stakeholders, including the CEO, CFO, and COO. They should regularly brief executives on the security landscape, present data-driven insights on risks, and advocate for security investments that align with business goals.
  • Adopt a privacy-first approach : The lines between cybersecurity and data privacy are blurring. As regulations like GDPR and CCPA become more prevalent, CISOs may likely take on a more prominent role in data privacy initiatives. CISOs must comprehensively understand privacy regulations and ensure compliance measures integrated with their security strategy.

The Way Ahead

Emerging trends and technologies will continue to impact the role of CISOs. You must stay focused on safeguarding your organization from current and future threats. By embracing these trends, CISOs can transform from reactive defenders to proactive security leaders. This will strengthen your organization’s security posture and position you as a trusted advisor, driving innovation and business growth in the secure-by-design era.

As we face the future, more than addressing traditional cybersecurity concerns is needed; you need to secure the physical infrastructure, supply chain, and cloud environments. The new focus on AI-powered cyber attacks makes cybersecurity more complex and demands a comprehensive and innovative approach. And we can only predict. However, the future will reveal what is truly in store for CISOs. That’s why the onus is on all the CISOs and aspiring CISOs to be future-ready and take on any cybersecurity challenges head-on.


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