Every CISO understands the commitment required to safeguard the data of an organization. But that’s far from their only responsibility. CISOs and cybersecurity leaders experience immense pressure in managing the risk of ransomware. To top it off, they are responsible for adapting environments to hybrid work as well. Easier said than done, especially with the rise in ransomware attacks recently. According to the Ransomware Survey Report 2021, ransomware grew by 1,070% between July 2020 and June 2021. All these pressures have lead to the rise of board-driven cybersecurity. 

It’s no surprise that cybersecurity is a major item of concern in the C-suite. Enterprise leaders are looking more and more to CISOs and cybersecurity leaders to ensure cybersecurity initiatives align with business initiatives. Here’s some insights on how board driven cybersecurity elevates the role of the CISO.

Board-driven cybersecurity: Connecting the CISO to the rest of the C-Suite

The chief information security officer (CISO) is the senior-level executive within an organization responsible for establishing and maintaining the enterprise vision, strategy, and program to ensure information assets and technologies are adequately protected. To that end, board-driven cybersecurity has elevated their position, and gained traction within the last decade due to the rise of digital economies and experiences. 

Here’s how the role of the CISO is the backbone of a solid cybersecurity infrastructure: 

Governance and Security Compliance

The CISO is responsible for designing the overall information systems security strategy. They ensure that it is aligned with the overall corporate strategy and any relevant regulations. By using this strategy, they develop and enforce policies, standards, procedures, and assessments. This is useful to understand the overall vulnerability of any particular asset within the organization.

Security Program Management

The CISO needs to make sure that the organization has the potential to keep ahead of information security needs by implementing programs and projects for real-time threat analysis, to protect the system from potential breaches and the identification and prioritization of incidents. 

CISOs should work relentlessly to identify the ever-evolving threat landscape, and they must ensure that the environment is audited and assessed against the breaches. They need to ensure that the system has the capability to find, defend and mitigate the risk.  And also they need to assess the processes that are fit for their purpose with ongoing updates and testing.

Inside and Outside Connectivity

The CISO is responsible for establishing robust communication within the organization and all the vendors (at least as far as enterprise cybersecurity is concerned) they work with to get clear visibility into potential vulnerabilities.

Training Every Team Member

It is crucial for a CISO and his or her team to track and manage internal risk. They have an important role in implementing the cybersecurity culture inside the organization, which includes running effective training programs.

Cyber Insurance Compliance

Finally, the CISO’s responsibility is to ensure that the organization meets all security requirements for insurance coverage under the policies in effect. This responsibility doesn’t change under a board driven cybersecurity paradigm. 

Board-driven cybersecurity and the changing role of the CISO

Historically, CISOs were titled as pure technologists, practitioners, and implementers of security controls to protect tangible and intangible assets of an organization. But that is all changing with the advent of board-driven cybersecurity. As the digital landscape evolves, the role of the CISO is more challenging than ever before with increased expectations from the CIO and overall organization.

The emerging technologies and digital transformation have redefined the threat landscape and contributed to the evolving role of CISOs in organizations. Now, the CISO must be a business leader who works collaboratively with different teams, be a part of influencing the business decisions and provide insights to accomplish business objectives.

Furthermore, today’s CISO must be an effective communicator who can connect different audiences (particularly with the Executive Board) decoding cybersecurity language into business language. 

What does that change mean for cybersecurity and CISOs?

Many cybersecurity teams tend to focus their attention on reactive security measures rather than providing business value to the business. Without a proper way to threshold their cybersecurity systems, they tend to stay in a defensive posture and don’t report effectively to board members. CISOs find it challenging to prove the business value of cybersecurity to the executive board, and often fail to get the necessary funds that will protect the organization from data breaches.

Every CISO must spend time discussing with their executive board and other teams to learn how they measure their organization’s success. They must focus on the business first approach and use their security skills to reduce risk. If not, enterprise cybersecurity will continue to be perceived as a cost center instead of a value center.

RedMonocle implements technology that contributes to true business success by finding blind spots in coverage and revealing overages that are a redundant cost center. With Cyber Risk Quantification from RedMonocle, it’s much easier to report to business leaders on where to fund cybersecurity initiatives for the greatest gains.

What should CISOs do to stand out in front of their leadership?

Cybersecurity leaders often face challenges to communicate with business leaders about the funding to defend against cyber threats. Since no budget is infinite, business leaders often place cybersecurity lower on the list of items for funding, but that is all changing. Driven by massive changes in how we conduct business now, board-driven cybersecurity has also elevated the role of the CISO. Now, the CISO must quantify the monetary costs of each potential cybersecurity threat the enterprise could suffer. 

Cyber Risk Quantification (CRQ) helps business leaders understand their cyber risk in monetary terms. It supports them in understanding questions like “How much will ransomware cost the company?” and “What will be the financial impact of an attacker stealing confidential information?” CRQ puts control into the CISO’s hands for better cyber prioritization, decision-making, spending optimization, and overall threat management. With this tactic, business leaders have better visibility on the most pressing and costly cyber threats faced by the enterprise to ensure board-driven cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity doesn’t have to be a cost-center

At RedMonocle, we think cybersecurity should never be a cost-center, but a value-center. With our ‘Always On’ Audit, we guide you on where to fund, how much to fund, and what kind of mitigation should be pursued against potential cyber threats. RedMonocle guides you to frame enterprise cybersecurity strategies and to get actionable insights on your infrastructure. 


The role of the CISO is changing. Rise above today’s standards for the CISO and make risk real to the C-suite.


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Nichole Kelly

Nichole Kelly

Vice President of Growth

Nichole Kelly brings over two decades of experience in growing organizations top line and bottom line revenue. As one of the leading marketing influencers she is the author of "How to Measure Social Media" and has traveled the world teaching marketers how to build and execute ROI-driven marketing strategies at every major marketing conference. Also an entrepreneur, Kelly was also the founder of SME Digital, a digital marketing agency that was sold to Renegade Marketing.

Kelly leads an active life of service and is the founder of The Bipolar Executive blog and podcast. This project is  designed to help shift the conversation around mental illness to one of mental wellness in Corporate America. 

Kelly holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a minor in Marketing from Saint Leo University.

Connect on my blog The Bipolar Executive

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Chris Schroeder

Vice President of Engineering, Co-Founder

Chris Schroeder has over 25 years of experience in large complex IT environments from the Fortune 500 to the federal government. Chris has an extensive technology background in mobility, infrastructure operations, and data analytics. Schroeder is a seasoned entrepreneur and co-founder of App47 and the Vice President of Engineering and co-founder of RealOps (sold to BMC).

Chris is an active volunteer in his community coaching boys and girls lacrosse, supporting high school STEM programs, and serving on the Pastoral Council. 

Schroeder holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from Radford University and a Masters Degree in Technology Engineering from George Washington University.

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Sean McDermott

President & CEO, Founder

Sean McDermott’s curiosity for advancing technology began at his first job as a network engineer/architect installing and managing the first private internet for the U.S. Department of Justice. At a time when the internet was just taking off, McDermott was at the forefront and has continued to be on the cutting edge of technology leading Fortune 500 companies through the dot-com bust, 9/11 and the 2008 recession. Sean has over three decades of experience working with CIOs in the Fortune 500 to trail blaze innovation and protect the IT infrastructure of the largest commercial and federal organizations in the world. 

McDermott is a mission-driven, serial entrepreneur who founded Windward Consulting Group, RealOps, Inc. (sold to BMC), App47 and RedMonocle. He is also the founder of the Windward Foundation and Alzheimer’s Caregiver Alliance, an organization dedicated to easing the burden of caregiving for individuals and families touched by Alzheimer’s disease.

McDermott is a member of the Forbes Tech Council and has been featured in Security Boulevard, TechRepublic, IT Visionaries, APM Digest, Inside BigData, DevPro Journal, IT Toolbox and more. He  holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Villanova University and a Masters in Engineering Management from The Catholic University of America. 

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