Today’s continuously evolving cyber threat landscape has made protecting your business and preparing for future threats a full-time job. Many enterprises rely on a chief information security officer (CISO) to help mount their defenses, establish strategies and set up processes—all in the name of keeping critical data and systems secure.
Recently, however, an increasing number of companies have discovered the economic and strategic advantages of hiring a virtual CISO (vCISO) in lieu of a full-time CISO.
So how do you know if virtual CISO services are right for you? Let’s discuss.
What do Virtual CISO Services Entail?
A vCISO provides organizations with access to a team of top-notch security experts. They can then help test your current state, guide you toward compliance, and improve your overall security posture. One of the top CISO advisors in the country, Jane Frankland, summarized the position succinctly:
A vCISO is someone who has spent years in the industry, has a wealth of experience having dealt with a wide variety of scenarios, and consults on the management of an organization’s information security. They’re usually engaged to design the organization’s security strategy, and some may manage the implementation. Many also present to the board, key stakeholders, and regulators.
Typically a vCISO will perform several crucial functions, including:
- Security operations
- Cyber-risk analysis
- Security architecture
- Loss prevention
- Access management
- Governance and compliance
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Why Should I Consider vCISO services?
A vCISO service provider acts very similarly to an on-staff CISO. They guide and advise the leadership team on best practices for continued cybersecurity maintenance and compliance.
Although there are similarities between the two options, there are a number of reasons why you might prefer a virtual chief security officer:
- Your organization is large and complex – Large companies have more infrastructure and employees. Those elements increase risk factors, which add further complexity to the problem of securing any data that’s used, stored, and shared. Protecting and maintaining technology stacks, architecture distributions, and application life cycles is a complex process that requires an unbiased and expert hand.
Virtual CISOs can provide a clear outsider’s perspective on how to best protect the business’ various IT architecture, services, and apps. They can objectively determine current and future risks and then provide scalable security remedies. This allows you to apply recommendations to specific sectors or broadly across the entire organization.
- You have a low-risk tolerance – Every organization needs to know how much risk it can tolerate. The industries with higher risk levels—such as healthcare—have less tolerance for perceived threats.
A vCISO can work with your team to weigh potential and current risks, highlight cybersecurity gaps, and determine your actual risk exposure. As the threat landscape continues to grow more complex, businesses will increasingly need an expert that can help them address and then swiftly mitigate their risks.
- Your budget is limited – Creating and paying for the full-time CISO position may be cost-prohibitive for your current budget. Those with the skill and experience necessary to fill a C-level cybersecurity role are valuable and in high demand. Even if you do hire someone in a full-time capacity, poaching is a common problem that could leave you desperate to recruit, onboard, and train another CISO.
A vCISO is a cheaper alternative that provides a predictable monthly cost far beneath the industry-wide average salary. They are able to adequately perform many, if not all, of the same roles at a fraction of the cost. Additionally, there are no extra expenses or benefits that come with a full-time job.
- You need help immediately – It can take months to find the right CISO for your business. Even after being hired, they must be onboarded and trained for the role. All the while, your network’s cybersecurity may be more vulnerable than ever. To make matters worse the position is often short lived, with the average tenure of a CISO averaging 24 to 48 months.
By hiring a vCISO you can reduce time-consuming recruiting and training processes. Instead, you can get the cybersecurity help you need in a fraction of the time.
- You have a lot of data to protect — Keeping track of your data flow and storage is one of the most important ways you can ensure that it’s protected. vCISOs can make rapid decisions to determine what data needs protection. Typically, their first action is to prioritize areas that would pose the largest potential problem to your bottom line and business reputation were they compromised.
- Your industry is highly regulated – The finance, energy, healthcare, or insurance sectors deal with data that is more sensitive and harmful if leaked. As a result, these industries have much higher regulations and compliance requirements meant to keep data secure. Noncompliance not only threatens a business due to the inherent cybersecurity exposures but also can result in steep fines and penalties.
Virtual CISOs are experts on all of the major regulatory standards. They stay up to date with the latest prescriptions and can implement processes or provide advice on how to best abide by the various industry-related rules and regulations.
- You need someone with a wide range of expertise – When businesses hire an in-house CISO, they receive the assistance of a single person. As a specialist, their skill set or expertise may be limited to a singular field of cybersecurity or a certain industry.
vCISO services use an entire team of experts who specialize in different fields. This offers a business a much larger pool of knowledge to draw from. A team of people is more likely to identify risks and recommend proper actions than just a single person. Overall, this group effort helps you more effectively mitigate risks.
How to Prepare to Select a vCISO?
If you think a vCISO might be right for you, then there are some steps to take before choosing the right partner.
- Do your research – Before you begin it’s important to clearly identify your known threats, cybersecurity goals, and industry-specific regulations. Ask questions like:
- What types of data do you handle?
- What are your business requirements?
- What would be the scope of your cybersecurity program?
By preparing ahead of time you can find a vCISO that satisfies your qualifications and budget.
- Gauge your alignment – How do you currently match up to recommended cybersecurity profiles within your industry. Either conduct an internal assessment or hire a third party to check your adherence to:
- Best practices
- Resource capacity
- Disseminate that information – All of your documentation should be shared with key decision-makers, including your goals for the position. Together, your team can weigh the pros and cons of implementing a vCISO, and then eventually find the perfect candidate.
Conducting a rigorous self-examination will help prepare you to find the perfect fit for your needs.
RSI Security — Your vCISO
A vCISO can provide you with several benefits, including:
- Expertise and core competencies
- Reduced business risk
- Work flexibility
- Faster integration
- Objective independence
- Lowered risk of turnover
Discovering the right virtual chief information security officer may seem like a daunting prospect. Fortunately, RSI Security makes your decision easy.
With more than a decades’ experience, we’ve provided vCISO services to scores of enterprise companies across the country.
From the outset, our mission is to understand your industry threat landscape, current cybersecurity state, and organizational needs. From there, we work with you to strategize your information security practices, policies, and procedures. As we do, we can help you build an actionable roadmap towards mitigating risk and keeping your business secure. Want to see what a vCISO could do for you? Reach out today.