How to Hire the Right CISO

A good CISO is definitely an experienced professional who meets your organization’s needs. Learn more about how to hire the right CISO

A Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is a senior-level executive responsible for overseeing and managing an organization’s information security. The primary role of a CISO is to ensure that the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the organization’s system and data assets are adequately protected. 

However, when trying to hire the best CISO, businesses face multiple challenges. The right CISO for one business may not be the right one for the other. The notion of the right CISO varies depending on factors such as the organization’s size, industry, risk profile, compliance requirements, technology landscape, etc. Some of the questions to answer before starting a search for a CISO may include:

  • Are you a large enterprise or a startup?
  • Do you work with ePHI or financial data?
  • Do you need to build and maintain your infosec program from scratch or improve an existing one?

Just like the answers to these questions vary, the way of how to hire the right CISO would vary as well. 

What is common for everyone is that the right CISO should be an experienced professional. 

Business Size

If you are a large enterprise, you would probably hire a full-time CISO. However, if you are a smaller start-up, a virtual CISO (vCISO) may better suit your needs.

Based on our experience, companies under 150-200 employees do not usually have a need for a full-time CISO. This is because their organizational structure, technology ecosystem, and applicable regulatory and contractual obligations are typically simpler and smaller compared to larger organizations. These companies may benefit from utilizing third-party vCISO services. When organizations grow beyond a certain point, they should consider hiring a full-time CISO. 

Read more about how your business may benefit from vCISO services in our article vCISO: a Solution for Small Businesses


CISOs should be selected based on the technologies, business processes, and compliance requirements that are prevalent in their respective industries. If you operate in the healthcare industry and handle electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI), then your best CISO should have experience in the healthcare industry and be profound in addressing all the HIPAA security requirements and protecting ePHI. If you are an online retailer handling a high number of credit card transactions, you may consider a CISO with extensive experience in Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) compliance.

Security and Compliance Needs

When hiring a CISO, choose a specialist (service) with strategic skills that align with your organization’s unique governance, risk management, and compliance needs.

If your organization aims to meet specific compliance goals, it is crucial that the chosen CISO possesses a deep understanding and expertise in successfully navigating the audit procedures relevant to your regulatory environment. This may encompass various frameworks and standards such as PCI DSS, NIST, HIPAA, SOC 2, and more. 

Given the current trend of organizations migrating their security infrastructure and data assets to the cloud, it is essential to engage CISOs with significant experience in securing cloud-based infrastructure, Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, and a deep understanding of the shared responsibility model.

Organization’s Risk Profile

A business with high-risk products or services may need more experienced CISO experts/services than a company with lower-risk profiles. This condition also affects the type of experience and education required for your CISO. Imagine a financial institution that offers online banking services and handles large volumes of sensitive customer financial data. This organization has a high-risk profile due to the potential for financial fraud, data breaches, and regulatory non-compliance. This situation will demand a skilled CISO with extensive experience in financial services, cybersecurity, and regulatory compliance.

Now consider a SaaS startup that provides project management tools to businesses. The product itself might not handle highly sensitive data of large volumes, so the security risk is substantially lower. Even though the product might not involve high-risk data, the company would likely have a CISO to ensure its SaaS platform is protected against information security incidents. 

How Planet 9 Can Assist?

Planet 9 employs seasoned virtual CISOs with years of experience working in various industries, including healthcare, e-commerce, finance, software development, manufacturing, and technology, where they hold senior leadership positions responsible for information security and compliance.

Our CISOs can help organizations develop and implement (or improve existing) information security and compliance programs, handle security incidents, conduct security risk assessments and compliance evaluations, manage security teams, and perform other responsibilities.

Feel free to contact the Planet 9 team for help with vCISO services for your business. We’ll be happy to assist!



Phone:  888-437-3646


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