According to a new report, 89% of Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) report that the rapid deployment of digital services has generated unforeseen risks to securing critical business data.

The new “State of the CISO” report, released by Salt Security and conducted by Global Surveyz, gathered feedback from 300 CISOs/CSOs around the world on issues resulting from digital transformation and enterprise digitalization. The results highlight CISO challenges including the biggest security control gaps they must manage, the most significant personal struggles they face and the impact that broader global issues are having on their ability to deliver effective cybersecurity strategies.  

Today’s digital-first economy has transformed the role of the modern CISO, increasing threats and changing security priorities. 

Other key report highlights

  • Digital initiatives have produced new individual concerns, the top being the risk of personal liability and litigation resulting from security breaches, with 48% of CISOs citing that challenge
  • 94% of CISOs worldwide say the speed of AI adoption is the macro dynamic having the greatest impact on their role
  • 95% of CISOs plan to prioritize Application Programming Interface (API) security over the next two years, a 12% increase compared with that priority two years ago
  • 77% of CISOs acknowledge APIs are already a higher priority today vs. two years ago. In addition, API adoption presented the second highest security control gap, after supply chain/third party vendors, resulting from organizations’ digital initiatives.

Top security challenges cited by CISOs

  • Lack of qualified cybersecurity talent to address new needs (40%)
  • Inadequate adoption of software (36%)
  • Complexity of distributed technology environments (35%)
  • Increased compliance and regulatory requirements (35%)
  • Difficulties justifying the cost of security investments (34%) 
  • Getting stakeholder support for security initiatives (31%)

Global trends impacting the CISO role

More CISOs cited the speed of AI adoption as having significant impact, followed by macro-economic uncertainty, the geo/political climate and layoffs. Specific CISO responses regarding the impact of global trends were:

  • Speed of AI adoption (94%)
  • Macro-economic uncertainty (92%)
  • Geo/political climate (91%)
  • Layoffs (89%)

Threat of litigation and increased liability top CISOs’ personal concerns

The digital-first economy has also impacted CISOs on a personal level. Among the personal challenges reported were:

  • Concerns over personal litigation stemming from breaches (48%)
  • Increased personal risk/liability (45%)
  • Expanded responsibilities and not enough time to fulfill (43%)
  • Increased job-related stress (38%)
  • Bigger teams to manage (37%)