Stephen Cobb has been researching computer security and data privacy for 25 years. He advises companies, consumers, and government agencies on the protection of sensitive data and systems. And he currently leads a San Diego-based research team for security software maker ESET.
All of which makes him an expert on the role that Chief Information Security Officers play, both in healthcare and other industries.
So what is the worst mistake he encounters?
“I hate to mangle a great line from a great movie, but ‘failure to communicate’ is probably the worst mistake a CISO can make,” Cobb said, referencing Paul Newman’s famous quip from Cool Hand Luke. “That’s because the allocation of resources to the cybersecurity effort depends on those who control resources fully understanding the risks inherent in the deployment of digital technologies.”
Naturally it follows that Cobb said the one trait that is absolutely necessary to succeeding as a CISO is above average communication skills.
“My research showed that CISOs tend to score higher in conscientiousness and openness and lower in neuroticism than the average cybersecurity worker,” Cobb said. “The same can also be said of cybersecurity workers versus other IT workers.”
CISOs with top-notch skills are also becoming harder to find because to succeed they have to understand IT, cybersecurity and healthcare in considerable depth, Cobb added. What’s more, many of the promising students he has encountered in ESET’s Cyber Boot Camp for high schoolers are considering a field such as robotics rather than infosec.
That said, CISOs in healthcare are getting better at their jobs.
“Today’s CISO is defending more data on more devices in more places against more threats than ever before,” Cobb said. “If CISOs were not constantly upping their game, there would be even more breaches than we are getting at the moment.”
Cobb will be speaking during the HIMSS17 session, Top Traits of Effective Healthcare CISOs and their Staff, scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 22 from 8:30 to 9:30 am in Tangerine Ballroom F4.
HIMSS17 runs from Feb. 19-23, 2017 at the Orange County Convention Center.
This article is part of our ongoing coverage of HIMSS17. Visit Destination HIMSS17 for previews, reporting live from the show floor and after the conference.