Exclusive: U.S. companies seek cyber experts for top jobs, board seats

Fri May 30, 2014 1:15am EDT
 
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By Nadia Damouni

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Some of the largest U.S. companies are looking to hire cybersecurity experts in newly elevated positions and bring technologists on to their boards, a sign that corporate America is increasingly worried about hacking threats.

JPMorgan Chase & Co, PepsiCo Inc, Cardinal Health Inc, Deere & Co and The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) are among the Fortune 500 companies seeking chief information security officers (CISOs) and other security personnel to shore up their cyber defenses, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

While a CISO typically reports to a company's chief information officer (CIO), some of the hiring discussions now involve giving them a direct line to the chief executive and the board, consultants and executives said.

After high-profile data breaches such as last year's attack on U.S. retailer Target Corp, there is now an expectation that CISOs understand not just technology but also a company's business and risk management.

    "The trend that we are seeing is that organizations are elevating the position of the CISO to be a peer of the CIO and having equal voice associated with resource priorities and risk decisions," said Barry Hensley, executive director at Dell SecureWorks' Counter Threat Unit.

    With many companies looking for security executives with military or defense backgrounds, people with the right expertise can command increasingly higher salaries.

Large corporations have recently hired CISOs for between $500,000 and $700,000 a year, according to Matt Comyns, global co-head of the cybersecurity practice at search firm Russell Reynolds Associates. Compensation for CISOs at some technology companies with generous equity grants have reached as high as $2 million, he said.

In comparison, CISOs who have been with a company for five or more years are on $200,000 to $300,000 per year, Comyns said.   Continued...

 
An illustration picture shows a projection of binary code on a man holding a laptop computer, in an office in Warsaw June 24, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel