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.
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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.
A JPMorgan spokesman said the bank will continue to invest and expand its security team, but declined to confirm if the firm was looking for a CISO.
Cardinal Health CIO Patty Morrison said the healthcare services company was looking to hire a vice president of security to bring in "new talent and new ideas." USAA Chief Security Officer Gary McAlum confirmed the diversified financial services group was looking for a CISO.
Deere representatives were not available for comment, while a spokesman for PepsiCo declined to comment. The soft drink and snack maker lost its CISO, Zulfi Ahmed, to MetLife Inc earlier this year.
-- By Nadia Damouni