From a birds eye view of a CSO with Ian Amit

Apex sat down with Ian Amit, Chief Security Officer of Cimpress to discuss his views on what it means to be an innovative CSO today while remaining a business enabler. With over a decade of experience in diverse security fields he shares his experience and advice.

Q: What is IT security doing to support innovation in the enterprise?

A: First and foremost, ensuring that security understands the business needs as far as direction (technologically) and strategy. Then security complements said strategy and not only ensures it is taken through secure means, but also further enables it to take additional risks.

Q: What is the single most important thing CISOs should be focusing on today?

A: Understanding and prioritizing the risks for the business. It’s not a question of a technological vulnerability “du jour” to be addressed (especially if it does not affect the organization’s threat model) and more about being able to correctly utilize the resources at hand to most effectively address the actual relevant risks.

Q: How can you best describe the relationship between the CIO and the CISO in the enterprise?

A: Independent. The CIO and CISO have potential conflicting views when it comes to technology, and hence should be independent of each other.

Q: Should IT security be a business enabler?

A: Absolutely. IT Security should never come from a “NO” approach, and by definition should enable the business to pursue whatever course of action it deems the most beneficial.

Q: How do you stay abreast of the trends and what your peers are doing?

A: Beyond the continued technological education, working and engaging with peer CSOs and CISOs has been the most beneficial for me as far as keeping up with the news, and mostly around how other executives are meeting their challenges. Forums where there are curated discussions where the members drive the conversations have been the most effective in doing that.

Q: How have you searched for and found the best vendors for your organization?

A: It is a constant cycle of looking for the right vendors for the organization, and in my view the value of VARs have diminished significantly over the years and are only used to secure the best price point for a product. For me the focus on products is shifting, and I’m spending more on training my internal resources, while augmenting them with the right products. That means continuously challenging our operating model, and also the products we use.

Q: What is the difference between a CISO and a CRO (Chief Risk Officer)?

A: There is definitely a lot of overlap from my perspective, and I feel like a CRO is only applicable in organizations where the majority of the risk contains not only non-information elements, but is highly biased to financial or legal elements. In more “traditional” organizations, I believe that a CSO (who has all security in scope, not just information security) is the executive role responsible for risk overall, and can be coupled with a strong internal audit function to provide full risk management coverage for the organization.

Q: How has the role of the CISO changed over your career?

A: At the beginning of my career, CISOs were mostly IT-Security managers. The scope and focus of those roles has been mostly limited to technology risk and managing the security of the infrastructure and the technology stack. Modern CISOs, and especially CSOs are tasked with a broader scope which includes the social as well as physical elements of security of the organization.

Q: What advice would you give an early stage CISO joining an enterprise organization?

A: Communication is key. Being able to have discussions with your peers in the executive management is critical, and this includes learning to formulate risk in business terms. Only then the application of “our” domain knowledge becomes applicable. One of the most common mistakes I’m seeing with CISOs in general is gravitating back to the engineering-heavy comfort zone where a lot of them came from, while losing focus over the actual missions which is to secure the organization and enable it to advance.