We\u2019ve come a long way from just a relatively few years ago in institutionalizing the CISO\/CSO mandate across our respective corporate organizational structures. I\u2019ve written here and spoken countlessly of the imperative for CISO\/CSOs being granted equal footing as their CIO and CRO counterparts to maximize operational effectiveness and efficiency, not to mention security resiliency; and if that\u2019s not feasible then s\/he should have a dotted reporting line to the CFO or COO.Beyond that, there is a stark security gap that concerns me\u2014one that is more essential and at the same time easier to fix\/employ than senior reporting lines.I strongly advocate and urgently implore corporate management teams to assemble and build a strong and resilient digital security leadership bench within their respective organizations for dual-effect purposes.Since the beginning of human warfare, long campaigns\u2014and this cyber war we find ourselves in is\/will surely be recorded as the longest ever continuous national security level conflict\u2014have required intermittent and overlapping rest and refit for warring soldiers and their leaders. Pulling the front-line troops \u2018off the line\u2019, as it were. The human body, the human mind cannot sustain indefinite and unceasing combat operations on the line\u2014no matter if weighted offensively nor defensively. At some point the solder, the platoon, the battalion, the division will crack, and effective combat effectiveness will fall precipitously.Good and farsighted commanders have long recognized this; and so individuals and units have been pulled off the line to rest and refit . . . to decompress from hot emotions and prolonged intense focus, to rest and then rebuild mind, body and importantly spirit. Why should the cyber battlefield be any different?\u00a0 Sure, there is no hot lead flying around; and sure, there are no mortally wounded casualties. But the CISO is indeed fighting a constant onslaught battle\u2026against an insidious unseen digital enemy(ies) who seeks to do harm to their company\u2019s structure, piggy banks and operating strategy\u2026to their professional family.Intel has gotten better, but it\u2019s still woeful and negligible. Quality staff are short in numbers. Budgets are for the most part tight. Insider threat still prevails. Making matters worse, a certain fool-hearty expectation prevails across many (not all) corporate quarters that cyber is a zero-sum game\u2014that \u201cin hiring a \u2018great\u2019 CISO we\u2019ve won\u201d\u2026and thus the associated corollary that any breach automatically equates to bad performance by the CISO. This is both silly and nonsensical. And so, the CISO goes to bed every night with one eye open, thinking anxious thoughts about unknown bad players who seek to do as yet unknown harm on her\/his digital enterprise\u2026her\/his home.\u00a0It begs repeating: cyber engagement is by design and nature continuous. And a continuous operating cycle, with zero respite for individual players, is unsustainable and deleterious. The stakes are high, and the tempo is intense. And thus, can wreak havoc on the mind and body and spirit.\u00a0CISOs\/CSOs must intermittently be pulled \u201coff the line\u201d in order to ensure maximum long-term operational efficiency and enhanced security resiliency. I\u2019m talking real rest and refit here\u2014far away from the office, with iPhone left in the drawer 23 \u00bd hours each day.Quite simply, it\u2019s not enough for (most) established mid and large-sized corporate entities to employ just a CISO alone. Designating a bench of digital security leaders is essential. These cyber players can be named Deputy CISOs or they can be functionally assigned this \u2018second hat\u2019 remit in more unannounced fashion.\u00a0Whenever possible, they should be \u201cpromoted\u201d from within, eg the SOC Director being given additional continency responsibilities. But if current staffing doesn\u2019t meet the bar, then the CISO should recruit from outside.Regardless of organizational size and scale, all mid to large sized corporate benches should be staffed with at a minimum two designated deputies and not more than four. Deputy implies that s\/he can\/will step into the proverbial breach at moment\u2019s notice, with no loss of operational security effectiveness. Deputies should be thoroughly cross trained among her\/his counterparts too. Whether the CISO is attending one of many offsites s\/he will be drawn to during the fiscal year or if s\/he is visiting a client or vendor overseas or simply if it\u2019s a case of the CISO \u2018shutting down\u2019 for two or better three weeks of mandatory holiday leave\u2026there\u2019s no gap, there\u2019s no loss; just seamless transition.Let me be clear, I am no apologist for the CISO\/CSO community writ large. I\u2019m a cyber headhunter; but first and foremost, I\u2019m an operator. I love it when I see organizations maximizing their inherent operating capabilities and efficiencies. And conversely, I get a bit irked when I see good organizations proverbially shooting themselves in their foot, making relatively-easy-to-avoid bad decisions.I\u2019m not suggesting that CEOs wholesale unleash their CISOs with zero conditional restraints. Nor am I saying that budgets for both gear and staff be virtually limitless. Indeed, the best CISOs exercise discretion and restraint and often do more with relatively less. But . . . I am urging CEOs, their boards and management teams to be smart, expansive and intellectually honest in reflecting on and deploying their CISO asset.And in establishing a quality CISO leadership bench, there\u2019s a positive force multiplier effect here too. For as the CEO\/management team incorporates some enhanced contingency planning for scheduled and unannounced CISO absences\u2014including forced \u201cquiet\u201d vacation time\u2014the CISO will gain a greater peace of mind knowing s\/he is fully backed and supported by her\/his corporate higher ups; in turn, sustained superior performance out of the CISOs office is enhanced, thus enabling a greater sense of quiet (realistic) confidence at the management team and board level. And, oh by the way, if said CISO is by chance recruited away (it happens!), easy coverage takes hold.This is a matter our clients are increasingly taking up with us. Some proactively; others responding to my harping at every opportunity, \u201cOK, enough already!\u201d All have come to recognize that an inherent staffing misalignment around their CISO functionality presents potentially critical exposure. If you, reading here, are a member of a management team, I humbly ask that you please raise this matter internally; have an honest discussion and take determined action if warranted. You may need to call on your recruiting partner to address a gap; more likely, you have sufficient staff in place, and need only employ a bit of organizational creativity and forethought. Whatever the case may be, let\u2019s get after it.