CISOs: Life Inside the Perimeter

27th August 2019

Simon Whitburn
MD Cyber Solutions

You might have caught our research announced back in February around the external and internal stresses faced by the modern CISO and how this is affecting their personal and professional lives.

It’s an important topic for us and with our latest Security Begins Here series interviewing a number of different CISOs, we thought that it was worth revisiting the research and pulling out some key stats which are continuing to be an issue among the CISOs we’re talking to.

  • 91% of CISOs say that they suffer moderate or high stress
  • 60% of CISOs rarely disconnect from their job
  • 88% of CISOs are working more than 40-hour weeks
  • 22% say that they are available 24/7

And the impact on their personal lives?

  • 27% say stress is impacting their mental or physical health
  • 23% say their job is eroding their personal relationships
  • 17% of CISOs admit to turning to medication or alcohol to deal with job stress

But where is this stress coming from?

  • Half of CISOs feel the executive teams value the security team from a revenue and brand protection standpoint
  • 60% of CISOs believe that their CEO / President agrees a breach is inevitable
  • Nearly a third of all those questioned believe that in the event of a breach they would either lose their job or receive an official warning

Is it justified?

  • 60% of CISOs questioned admitted to having found malware on their infrastructure which had been there for an unknown period of time.
  • 57% believe that a lack of resources is what holds back an effective security posture
  • 63% said that they were struggling to recruit the right people
  • 65% of CISOs claim that a lack of senior buy-in to the problem is a barrier
  • 43% believe that they have adequate or very adequate budget to tackle cyber attacks

We also asked a business psychologist and lecturer at University College London, Dr Dimitrios Tsivrikos, what he thought:

“It is of paramount importance that we address organizational stress and extra emphasis ought to be paid to CISOs. As a group of employees, they are faced with overwhelming pressure. Errors in their judgement, caused by excessive work-related stress, can indeed have detrimental effects upon business and personal data.”

“In addition, individuals who are stressed at work are oftentimes not living their best lives privately, either. Most of us find it difficult to suppress the pressures from work, and they do indeed spill over into our private life. This poses significant health-related threats to personal well-being as individuals rely on alcohol and other non-constructive behaviors in order to relax and find relief from those pressures.”

Read the full report here.

Read our Life Inside the Perimeter report in full

Nominet commissioned ground-breaking research into how CISOs are faring with the responsibilities of being at the front-line of the fight against cyber crime.

Download the report