You’ve decided that your organization needs a CISO. And now, every cybersecurity provider claims to be the best. With the rise of CISO as a Service, we have more choices for outsourced CISO services than we had just a few years ago.
Research by Salary.com shows that CISOs are among the top 10% of a large corporation’s payroll. But since small and medium-sized businesses are now digitally-transformed, they have to find a way to acquire the same level of cybersecurity leadership on a fraction of the budget.
What is CISO as a Service?
CISO as a Service (or virtual CISO services) is the leading alternative to traditional chief information security officers. Also known as outsourced CISO services, virtual CISOs provide cybersecurity leadership on an on-demand basis.
Virtual CISO providers support a company’s IT department, collaborate with company department heads, and report directly to CIOs/CEOs/COOs. They perform penetration testing (to locate weakness) and recommend cybersecurity tools.
The objective of CISO as a Service is identical to the CISO executive – to protect a company from security breaches. While providers typically possess high-level IT skills, they must extend their services beyond technical know-how to strong leadership and communication.
7 Qualities to Look for in Outsourced CISO Service Providers
Determining which CISO provider is best for your organization means identifying what makes a reliable CISO. Here are seven qualities to look for as you engage outsourced CISO providers.
Possesses Security Experience
Cybersecurity is part of the tech industry. However, security is also a specialized field that incorporates more than understanding server hardware and software development.
In fact, some of the finest CISO experts began in security and obtained IT skills later on. Cybersecurity demands a risk management mentality. That’s why CISO as a Service is a specialized industry in its own right.
Most of the IT world focuses on streamlining and expanding a company’s digital infrastructure. It would be best if you had someone (a virtual CISO) to examine your operations with cyber-threats in mind. Not only do CISOs step back and assess where your business is weak from a security standpoint, but they can also integrate with marketing and product development to ensure that your company deliverables are secure from the outset.
Creates Cybersecurity Objectives
Outsourced CISO providers must help you set goals and measure progress. Without reasonable objectives, you have no way of knowing if your business is secure against a hacker or malware.
Additionally, cybersecurity objectives show you what you need to accomplish to reach those goals. As a result, you can employ tactics and services that specifically target milestones, key performance indicators (KPIs), and high-level goals.
The best CISOs are passionate about creating goals, measuring progress, and reporting on that progress. Without objectives, your cybersecurity efforts will be unorganized, and you may end up spending more money without the protection to show for it.
Can Speak in ROI Terms
Any self-respecting CISO provider knows how to answer the question, “What effect does cybersecurity have on my company ROI?”
CISOs should be able to demonstrate how improving your cybersecurity both lowers your costs and increases your revenues. The provider you choose must take steps to understand how your business works and speak in dollars-and-cents terms. By understanding your business, CISOs can identify which security measures protect and improve profit margins.
Outsourced CISO providers that talk about cybersecurity ROI in vague terms may betray critical weaknesses. For example, inexperienced virtual CISOs often copy/paste a bundle of cybersecurity solutions from one client to another. This approach risks either leaving the client open to a security breach unique to their operations or forcing them to pay for services that they don’t need.
Experienced CISOs care about who their clients are and will tailor their cybersecurity approach to each client. Further, these CISOs can easily demonstrate how their approach produces tangible ROI for that organization.
Builds Vulnerability Assessment Strategy
Vulnerability assessments (ethical or white-hat hacking) are penetration tests that identify routes a hacker might take to steal or destroy company data. CISOs collect information during these tests and input that information into assessment models.
The most reliable model is the FAIR model risk assessment. A key component of CISO as a Service is coordinating penetration testing with company leadership and accurately reporting the results. Using the FAIR model, decision-makers can grasp the importance of cybersecurity without feeling like they have to sacrifice market competitiveness.
Some virtual CISOs train employees directly. Others coordinate employee training and support company personnel in charge of administering training.
For many organizations, employees pose the biggest cybersecurity risk. Phishing is a tactic that entices an individual to click a link or download malware. Employees might think that they are checking out a fun video or downloading a game, but it is actually someone or something trying to break into the company network.
Outsourced CISOs help you build a policy that protects your business and employees from a security breach. Additionally, these virtual CISOs ensure that each person within your organization understands their role in preventing a security breach.
Depending upon the nature of your business, maintaining compliance standards for protecting sensitive information can be overwhelming.
You can’t access some business services, such as credit card processing, without demonstrating basic security compliance. Also, many clients will not do business with you unless you have certificates verifying that you meet third-party compliance standards. For some industries, failing to meet bare minimum security measures results in fines or business closure.
If you do business online and manage extensive databases, cybersecurity compliance should be a major concern. Reliable CISO services focus on helping you be compliant with all agencies relevant to your business industry. The leading cybersecurity compliance standards include (but are not limited to):
- Center for Internet Security (CIS)
- Open-source Software (OSS) compliance
- PCI Security Standards Council
- North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC)
- California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA)
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)
- Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH)
- Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST)
- Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) for government contractors
- EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
- Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 reporting
- New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS)
- Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
- CryptoCurrency Security Standard (CCSS)
- IRS e-File compliance
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Keeps You from Overpaying
A vital part of a virtual CISO’s job is to create the appropriate arsenal of cybersecurity solutions. If you’re a small to medium-sized business, you probably won’t need to invest as much time and money as a large corporation.
However, the opposite is also true. Virtual CISOs shouldn’t enable gross under-investing that could risk a major security breach later on. Saving money on cybersecurity upfront can end up costing you more money in the long run.
The point is that the outsourced CISO services provider you select should customize a security strategy and toolkit for your organization. These seasoned professionals help you “get it right” the first time in a way that both protects your budget and your digital infrastructure.
Recap: CISO as a Service
Keeping the above seven qualities in mind will help you make the most of CISO as a Service. You needn’t feel discouraged if you can’t afford to hire a CISO executive. Instead, you can select a virtual CISO carefully and then seamlessly scale your cybersecurity as your business grows.
RSI Security focuses on customizing cybersecurity services to the needs and budget of your organization. Our virtual CISOs can help you identify where your business is vulnerable, build a plan to protect your operations, and scale your protection as your business grows.