Want To Be Information Security Director, Here You Go!

Thinking about becoming an information security director (aka cyber security director)? You may be an ace cyber security expert with all the technical know-how, but your expertise will only take you so far.

To reach the top, you also need a solid understanding of business and management operations. And, if you want to climb the ranks more quickly in your cyber security career, it’s definitely worth learning.

In today’s article we’re going to learn what it takes to become an information security director and discuss your responsibilities, required background, and the salary expectations.

My Opinion

Information security director is a high-profile job designed for professionals moving towards a VP of Information Security or Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) position.

Possessing deep technical expertise and knowing how to form trusted relationships based on that expertise is necessary. That’s because this role is just as much about cyber security knowledge as it is about having people skills.

Therefore, if you know how to lead people and manage high profile customers, you’ll be very successful at this job. But, if dealing with people isn’t your strength, or you lack sufficient security knowledge, this isn’t the position for you.

Table of Contents

What is an Information Security Director? Click below to find out!

What is a Director of Information Security?

Director of Information Security Salary

How Many Years of Experience Does a Security Director Need?

Information Security Director Job Description

How to Become a Security Director?

How Many Hours Does a Security Director Work?

What is a Director of Information Security?

An information security director is a senior-level executive that manages a company’s security infrastructure under the direction of the CISO.

As such, you’re accountable for the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the company’s information systems. In other words, your job is protect your company’s data, digital assets, and IT infrastructure from security vulnerabilities and threats.

Director of Information Security Salary

The average salary of an information security director is about $156,142 and is based on the following eight websites as of March 2023:

  • ZipRecruiter: $143,283
  • Salary.com: $181,613
  • Glassdoor: $144,566
  • Comparably: $163,455
  • Indeed: $135,520
  • Zippia: $141,813
  • PayScale: $173,887
  • Talent.com: $165,000

Also, as an executive in your company, you might be offered ownership or stake in the company in the form of stock options. Therefore, your income is very much tied to your overall performance plus your base salary.

How Many Years of Experience Does a Security Director Need?

You need a ton of experience in information security, including a leadership or management role. That’s because cyber security directors interact with very technical people throughout much of the week.

That means you need a deep understanding of security principles and terminology of your specific domain.

However, you’re not expected to know every aspect of security even though you should maintain a broad understanding of other security domains.

To become a security director, you need 10-15 years of experience in cyber security with a track record of success. If you’re aiming for associate security director, you should be good with as little as 5-10 years of security experience.

Common job titles prior to becoming a director include Senior Cybersecurity Architect or Senior Cybersecurity Manager.

These roles serve as a stepping-stone to director-level positions, giving you the opportunity to learn new skills. If you’re not at that level yet, it’s probably best to wait until you get there.

Information Security Director Job Description

Your job is to oversee the operation of the company’s cyber security program. To effectively manage this program, you’re required to understand both the company’s security and business priorities.

Of course, the responsibilities of an information security director will vary from one company to the next. While the list below is by no means exhaustive, I’ve tried to list all the core responsibilities.

Let’s look at what an information security director does:

Strategy development and implementation

You’ll implement a comprehensive security strategy that’s in line with your company’s goals and risk management approach. This includes:

  • Assessing existing security measures
  • Identifying areas of improvement
  • Creating and updating information security policies and procedures
  • Ensuring compliance with government regulations and industry standards

Security operations management

You’ll also oversee the day-to-day operations of your domain’s information security function. This means:

  • Managing your security teams and coordinating with project stakeholders
  • Managing relationships with external vendors that need access to your systems
  • Providing guidance to management regarding security-related issues
  • Ensuring senior level managers are meeting their business goals

Additionally, if you work in a consulting company, you’ll also be assigned as project manager for extremely high-value contracts.

Risk assessment and management

The key to helping a company strengthen their security posture is to understand their weaknesses. Part of your duties include helping the company to understand the risks or impact of inadequate security measures.

To do that, it’s common to perform a risk assessment to assess the company’s security risks. That leads you to the development of risk mitigation strategies and processes to manage security-related risks.

This might require the need to implement new business models or systems to support the security of your company’s information.

Prioritize security risks

There’s always a “tug-of-war” between what resources the security departments need and what management is willing to spend. Your role as a cyber director is to balance the competing demands between business and security interests.

This means attaching dollar figures to security requirements and prioritizing objectives based upon the overall risks or impact to the company.

Budget and resource management

To continue the previous point, being technically savvy is no longer enough; you must also understand company finances.

In short, you’ll develop budget forecasts and manage your department’s existing budget to make sure enough money is given to each project.

These resources go towards supporting security initiatives and projects by considering the risks, staffing requirements, vendors, and IT assets.

Grow the business

If you’re company provides security services or consulting, you’ll use your expertise to help expand the company’s security practice.

As an example, writing or reviewing business proposals to ensure security requirements are being captured, engaging in high-level client meetings, as well as attending networking conferences, trade shows, or other events.

Compliance and audit

You need to ensure your company is compliant with laws, regulations, industry security standards, and the relevant security frameworks.

You’ll work with internal and external auditors to assess and validate the effectiveness of your company’s adherence to those standards.

Also, if you work with vendors or third parties that require access to your systems, ensure they adhere to the company’s security requirements. If a security breach occurs, you’ll end up leading the internal investigation of such an incident.

Promote a security culture

It’s the nature of your position to promote a security-conscious culture. Your senior level managers will look to you for guidance and coaching regarding the company’s security culture.

This involves implementing privacy programs that prevent and detect privacy issues and security awareness programs to train employees on the importance of information security.

How to Become a Security Director?

If you’re willing to pursue this job, here are several security director qualifications to consider:

Maintain your security certifications

Security certifications are an absolute must before you’re even considered for a leadership role. If you don’t have at least a CISSP, CISM, CISA, or other relevant security cert, then don’t expect to move any further up the ladder!

Develop your communication and people skills

Besides having decision-making skills, strong communication and interpersonal skills are highly prized assets.

These skills are vital to effectively collaborate with various stakeholders and communicate complex security issues to non-technical audiences.

While cyber security can be taught; your communication and interpersonal skills, which are crucial when securing new clients, can’t!

What are the education requirements to become a security director?

Many firms require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in business, cyber security, computer science, or something related to your field. Without a degree, you’ll have an extremely difficult time getting a leadership position.

How Many Hours Does a Security Director Work?

If you want to grow and get noticed in this field, you’ve got to put in the hours. Becoming a cyber security director is not for the faint-of-heart; expect to go well beyond your 40-hour work week.

This is especially true the higher you move up!

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by Amit Doshi

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