Why your CSO, not your CMO, should pitch your security startup




Whenever a security startup lands on my desk, I have one question: Who’s the chief security officer (CSO) and when can I get time with them?

Having a chief security officer is as relevant today as a chief marketing officer (CMO) or chief revenue boss. Just as you need to make sure your offering looks good and the money keeps rolling in, you need to show what your security posture looks like.

Even for non-security startups, having someone at the helm is just as important — not least given the constant security threats that all companies face today, they will become a necessary part of interacting with the media. Regardless of whether your company builds gadgets or processes massive amounts of customer data, security has to be at the front of mind. It’s no good simply saying that you “take your privacy and security seriously.” You have to demonstrate it.

A CSO has several roles and they will wear many hats. Depending on the kind of company you have, they will work to bolster your company’s internal processes and policies on keeping not only your corporate data safe but also the data of your customers. They also will be consulted on security practices of your app or product or service to make sure you’re complying with consumer-expected privacy expectations — and not the overbearing and all-embracing industry standards of vacuuming up as much data as there is.

But for the average security startup, a CSO should also act as the point-person for all technical matters associated with their company’s product or service. A CSO can be an evangelist for the infosec professional who can speak to their company’s offering — and to reporters, like me.

In my view, no startup of any size — especially a security startup — should be without a CSO.

The reality is about 95 percent of the world’s wealthiest companies don’t have one. Facebook hasn’t had someone running the security shop since August. It may be a coincidence that the social networking giant has faced breach after exposure after leak after scandal, and it shows — the company is running around headless without a direction of where to go.