Unlocking the Power of Governance in Cybersecurity: NIST CSF 2.0 Introduces ‘Govern’ to Redefine CISO Leadership in 2024
Shirley SalzmanShirley Salzman

Unlocking the Power of Governance in Cybersecurity: NIST CSF 2.0 Introduces ‘Govern’ to Redefine CISO Leadership in 2024

By Shirley Salzman, CEO and Co-Founder, SeeMetrics

As all eyes are towards the updated NIST CSF 2.0 publication, some of the spoilers have already been published – now security leaders not only need to identify, protect, detect, respond and recover; they also need to govern.

Most of the CISO’s C-Suite peers already govern with a dedicated management platform, while the CISO’s team still struggles with piles of fragmented data, spreadsheets, and perhaps consultancy firms that create.. well.. more spreadsheets..

Things have transformed in a decade: think about the approach towards governance in 2014 and now in 2024. In the past, the CISO needed to check the box of the functions’ controls. Today, efficient governance means understanding how well the controls are implemented and maintained on a routine basis. This means, cybersecurity is taking a big step forward and security leaders will have a completely new way of doing their jobs.

How does this translate to practice?

Until now, it’s been like buying all the ingredients for a delicious cake but not taking charge of making one. The ingredients were left in the cupboard, some used, some not, some redundant, some expired, with no oversight as to what was needed, how they were ultimately used and if the cake, in the end, was good or not.

In security terms, this means the CISO’s office procures all the needed controls such as endpoint protection tools or code protection, but the security leadership doesn’t have the ability to understand if they have been implemented, and if they have – how well they are working. That’s because more often than not, today’s security teams have no visibility into how their policies are being enforced. They have no way to measure their activation (have they been deployed?), their scan cycles (at what pace are they working?) and whether critical events are resolved (how well are they performing against our policy?).

The ability for a CISO or a security leader to govern, manage, and measure how their operations are performing is getting bigger and top of mind. Finally, the industry is recognizing that CISOs do not have the tools they need in order to do the management part of their job.

There are many drivers for this, beginning with the complexity of their operations. Every company that needs to be compliant with SoC2/type is likely to manage at least 15 different security tools. The stack can reach over 100 tools when it comes to major enterprises. Even mid-size companies that might have gone through an M&A process are likely to have a few dozens of segregated tools.

Secondly, accountability is on the rise for the CISO and with it new liabilities and expectations.

And lastly, new technologies around security data consolidation for management purposes are introducing the pathway for data-driven insights and therefore data-driven security leadership.

I believe the NIST CSF 2.0’s new govern function will further foster a new data-driven security management approach that entails several key and practical changes:

  • Transparency to the operational tools – whereas an ops leader or an analyst looks inwards to remediating an event or a vulnerability, security leaders ask themselves several different questions. For instance: how well are the recent tools we procured enrolled, or which business unit needs my assistance to better adopt the new controls?
  • Multi-disciplinary mindset – today a CISO’s office oversees between 10 to 14 different security programs, each one with very distinctive languages, capabilities and measurements that are led by dedicated SMEs. In the CISO’s office, one needs to adopt simple and clear language, measurements and policies that would be agnostic to the tools, easy to comprehend, and offer a clear understanding of what the needed action items are when the security policies aren’t met.
  • Eye on ROI – with todays’ budget cuts and recession, executive boards are asking more and more questions about the significant investment going into the security field. For most laymen, there’s absolutely no way to understand the nuances among the dozens of security tools. This is when the CISO’s office needs to adopt a simple way to translate their cumbersome stack to the board and reflect the security gaps in a way that will help the board understand why following the previous quarter’s budget increase, there’s still further need for investment.
  • Effectiveness of policy enforcement – It’s one thing to work hard towards improving performance but it’s a whole other thing to not even be aware of how the policies the CISO has set are trending. Adopting a simple, continuous view into this is the first step for much stronger governance.

To sum it up, the official addition of “govern” into the NIST framework is a great opportunity for the CISO offices to upgrade the way they lead.

About the Author

Unlocking the Power of Governance in Cybersecurity: NIST CSF 2.0 Introduces ‘Govern’ to Redefine CISO Leadership in 2024Shirley Salzman, CEO and Co-Founder of SeeMetrics, a Cybersecurity Performance Management (CPM) platform that transforms the way security leaders measure, track, and improve stack performance. Unlike today’s manual processes, SeeMetrics’ cockpit-like dashboard instantly answers key questions around performance. Shirley brings over a decade of experience in commercial leadership (Percepto, Contguard, and Logic Industries). Prior to her high-tech career, Shirley worked for global policy and strategy firms such as the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. and the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Israel. Shirley holds an MA with honors in International Security and Non-Proliferation from King’s College, London.

Shirley can be reached online at [email protected] and at our company website https://seemetrics.co/

May 20, 2024

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