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January 17, 2017 By Mark Bloom

CISO Manifesto: 10 Rules for Vendors

This CISO blog post was contributed by Gary Hayslip, Deputy Director, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for the City of San Diego, Calif., and Co-Author of the book CISO Desk Reference Guide: A Practical Guide for CISOs

CISO Manifesto

As businesses today focus on the new opportunities cybersecurity programs provide them, CISOs like myself have to learn job roles they were not responsible for five years ago. These challenging roles and their required skill sets I believe demonstrate that the position of CISO is maturing. This role not only requires a strong technology background, good management skills, and the ability to mentor and lead teams; it now requires soft skills such as business acumen, risk management, innovative thinking, creating human networks, and building cross-organizational relationships. To be effective in this role, I believe the CISO must be able to define their “Vision” of cybersecurity to their organization. They must be able to explain the business value of that “Vision” and secure leadership support to execute and engage the business in implementing this “Vision.”

So how does this relate to the subject of my manifesto? I am glad you asked. The reason I provided some background is because for us CISOs, a large portion of our time is spent working with third-party vendors to fix issues. We need these vendors to help us build our security programs, to implement innovative solutions for new services, or to just help us manage risk across sprawling network infrastructures. The truth of the matter is, organizations are looking to their CISO to help solve the hard technology and risk problems they face; this requires CISOs to look at technologies, workflows, new processes, and collaborative projects with peers to reduce risk and protect their enterprise assets. Of course, this isn’t easy to say the least, one of the hardest issues I believe CISOs face is time and again when they speak with their technology provider, the vendor truly doesn’t understand how the CISO does their job. The vendor doesn’t understand how the CISO views technology or really what the CISO is looking for in a solution. To provide some insight, I decided I would list ten rules that I hope technology providers will take to heart and just possibly make it better for all of us in the cyber security community.

Now with these rules in mind, let’s get started. I will first start with several issues that really turn me off when I speak with a technology provider. I will end with some recommendation to help vendors understand what CISOs are thinking when they look at their technology. So here we go, let’s have some fun.

Top Ten Rules for Technology Providers

  1. “Don’t pitch your competition” – I hate it when a vendor knows I have looked at some of their competitors, and then they spend their time telling me how bad the competition is and how much better they are. Honestly I don’t care, I contacted you to see how your technology works and if it fits for the issue I am trying to resolve. If you spend all of your time talking down about another vendor, that tells me you are more concerned about your competitor than my requirements. Maybe I called the wrong company for a demonstration.
  2. “Don’t tell me you solve 100% of ANY problem” – For vendors that like to make grand statements, don’t tell me that you do 100% of anything. The old adage “100% everything is 0% of anything.” In today’s threat environment, the only thing I believe that is 100% is eventually that I will have a breach. The rest is all B.S. so don’t waste my time saying you do 100% coverage, or 100% remediation, or 100% capturing of malware traffic. I don’t know of a single CISO that believes that anyone does 100% of anything so don’t waste your time trying to sell that to me.

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Mark Bloom

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