Oh, boo hoo. CISOs get no respect from their C-suite peers

Photo by Saintthorant Daniel/Shutterstock

What is it about the schadenfreude that infects the hallowed executive suite?

According to new research by ThreatTrack Security, a whopping 74 percent of 203 C-level bigwigs surveyed said that Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) should not get a seat at the big-boy table. And almost half (44 percent) think that the biggest benefit of having a CISO at all is to have someone to blame should a security breach occur. And, not to pile on, but 61 percent of respondents said they didn’t believe that their CISO would succeed in another role at the company.

With colleagues like this, who needs enemies?

This bad blood could be bubbling up because of the paranoia over security breaches that can — and have — cost CEOs and other top execs their jobs. Most notably in May Target CEO Greg Steinhafl resigned after the epic breach that rocked his company. He’d been with Target for more 35 years. Suddenly the idea of a installing a scapegoat doesn’t seem so far-fetched, right?

To be sure, being in charge of security can seem like a no-win situation already. Speakers at a recent CIO conference at MIT said that security execs always have to justify their budgets. If there’s no breach at all, that money is seen as wasted. And if there is a breach, that money is also seen as wasted. Where do you go with that sort of attitude?

This is just the latest skirmish among the C-suite fraternity. Two years ago, a long-running scuffle erupted between Chief Marketing Officers and Chief Information Officers when a Gartner analyst predicted that within a few years, CMOs would have more IT spending power than their CIO colleagues. Needless to say that tidbit went over like a lead balloon with CIOs.

One thing is clear. These battles will continue so for all the climbers who crave a C-level post — whether it carries Chief Insultant, Chief Fungineer, Chief Storyteller or some other made-up title — you might want to revise your career plan. It’s nasty up there.

 

Negotiating table conference room

 

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