Data Security

5 Essential Security Strategy Goals for CISOs to Prioritize

Travis Howe
CISO, Own Company
No items found.

In an era marked by relentless cyber threats and increasingly sophisticated attacks, chief information security officers (CISOs) have become more critical than ever in safeguarding organizations' digital assets and maintaining their resilience.

Below, we explore the essential security strategy goals that CISOs should focus on, highlight the key areas that demand attention, and offer insights to help navigate the complex landscape of modern cybersecurity.

Security benchmarks and standards

The battle against cybercriminals starts with a proactive plan of attack. Threat detection and response should be the foundation of breach response, but the modern landscape demands thinking ahead. With proper threat intelligence, you can protect mission-critical data before it comes under siege.

To make that happen, security service teams need regular upgrades in the following areas:

  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Training

Your last upgrade benchmarks the readiness of your cybersecurity strategy. Years, even months, can make all the difference. Modern threats move fast, and your company’s standards must update to keep ahead.

Zero-trust architecture

“Trust, but verify” is an approach that has died in tech. Instead, a CISO security strategy should start with, “Never trust, always verify.” Instead of assuming everything behind the corporate firewall is safe, the zero-trust model assumes breach and verifies each request as though it originates from an open network.

The zero-trust model mandates that every person (user) or technology (device, network, connection, etc.) must undergo regular authentication and verification. Examples include multi-factor authentication (MFA), advanced password requirements, and workstation security smartcards. More verification methods will emerge with time, so do everything you can to stay on top of them and use them if they align with your business and security goals.

Employee onboarding and education

The overwhelming majority of data breaches come from human error. A single phishing attempt can collapse your entire network without careful safeguards. Clear communication about the threats your business faces go a long way, and that transparency helps your non-tech teammates treat your security situation with the gravity it deserves.

Educate the workers in the trenches

For everyday employees, anti-phishing and suspicious activity reporting options are vital. Higher password standards and security measures like MFA should appear even at the lowest levels, and your employees should use them whenever possible.

To ensure the entire organization sticks to these standards enthusiastically, implement training programs that help employees understand the importance of these protocols. In addition, your security teams can develop simulated phishing attempts to identify growth opportunities. The more they understand the potential consequences, the more cooperation the C-suite sees.

Maintain the business perspective

A CISO security strategy can also use soft skills at the company’s highest levels. You shouldn’t have to justify your role in the modern threat landscape, but you can work with your peers instead of against them if you treat cybersecurity as a business accelerator.

Your coworkers outside the tech stack might perceive security as a business slowdown, so consider using the analogy of brakes on a car: Brakes do, in theory, make the ride slower, but they provide control and keep the vehicle — your company — out of danger. In the same way, security might slow a business down, but its long-term longevity relies upon it.

Security strategy in the face of threat landscape trends

In many ways, nothing has changed: Human errors still cause most breaches, and those breaches still cause massive damage, but new trends are on the horizon — machine learning, for instance, looms ready to change the entire tech industry — and CISOs must plan for them in the future.

Global data explosion

Data creation rates have skyrocketed, and they will only continue to rise. Big data means more information that adds real value for your company, but it also means you have more to protect. A larger attack surface needs more advanced classification and standards to allocate resources to prioritize sensitive data.

Decide which data you can safely store in the cloud while confirming your cloud provider's security and putting extra safeguards on any sensitive information you store on-site.


Legal trends move further toward consumers and their data safety — as they should — but that reprioritization means heftier fines, stricter regulations, and greater financial and legal risks when faced with a data breach.

Of course, new laws exist for good reasons and will continue to evolve to face new threats. Your security strategies must evolve in response to those laws and as a means of keeping ahead of them. Different data types require different safeguards and handling procedures, and the CISO must ensure that everyone follows those rules and that the organization's rules comply with new legislation.

Security policies

Policies provide a written-in-stone ruleset that anyone can follow and refer to. If something goes wrong, you can point to the policy violation that caused it and adjust accordingly to prevent a repeat of the incident. Developing security policies and iteration allows you to gather relevant perspectives and ensure everyone has a say in your new policies.

Policies should also consider flexibility. Focus on current business needs and create the flexibility to adapt to unexpected circumstances. Consider the global pandemic and the potential for other world-shattering events, and determine whether your policies will allow you to adjust as you attempt to expect the unexpected.

Improve efficiencies  

Hackers work fast, and CISOs should do the same. At the same time, you must create clear guidelines and key performance indicators to avoid creating an inferior policy. Use those goals to gain insight into the health of your organization's tech stack and how well you can implement your security goals.

Efficiency in systems development will also bolster company health as a whole. Programs and security are one small but critical part of your business plan. Changes in attitude toward efficiencies in security development can spread throughout the rest of your company’s technology team, which means more savings and better results for everyone.

A CISO security strategy is just the beginning

Own helps CISOs ensure that Salesforce is set up in a way that enables both maximal security and constant compliance while delivering great business value.

To learn more about how to protect your Salesforce environment, download The CISO's Guide to Salesforce.

Get started

Submit your details and we will contact you shortly to schedule a custom 25-minute demo.

Book a demo
Get started

Submit your details and we will contact you shortly to schedule a custom 25-minute demo.

Book a demo
Travis Howe
CISO, Own Company

Travis Howe is the Chief Information Security Officer at Own, with nearly three decades of experience spearheading cybersecurity strategies and initiatives for federal, public, and private sector organizations. His skill set includes crafting alignment with advanced security and compliance frameworks that harmonize with corporate and customer objectives and ensuring robust defense mechanisms against the dynamic landscape of digital threats.

Data Security
Data Security
Data Security

Get started

Share your details and we’ll contact you shortly to schedule a custom 25-minute demo.

Schedule a Demo