Many organizations employ a Chief Security Officer (CSO) or Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). This position is among the highest paid in a company, and its occupant oversees all security concerns related to information technology (IT). All IT staff typically report to the CISO, and in many cases the CSO/CISO reports directly to the CEO.
It’s a big-budget position but one that’s worth investing in for companies who can afford it. For smaller businesses with more modest resources it can be difficult to fit a full-time CISO into the budget. That’s why many opt for an external, virtual CISO (vCISO).
Bringing on a virtual chief information security officer costs money, but the benefits of hiring a vCISO far exceed the costs. How so? Let’s discuss.
The Benefits of a Virtual CISO
Every organization has sensitive information it needs to protect.
While physical security is necessary for all businesses, cybersecurity is just as important. In fact, given the ever-changing digital environment, it’s arguably more important. As the world becomes increasingly dependent on technology and the tech we use becomes even more complex, cybercriminals are evolving and becoming more sophisticated.
To defend against their attacks you need experts that know how to enforce and maintain a strong cyberdefense.
Expertise You Can Trust
Hiring a vCISO means adding a tested cybersecurity veteran to your team. But in many cases you receive the added benefit of multiple experts for the price of one (or less).
Most all vCISO services involve a team of talented experts providing cybersecurity services and oversight to more organizations than one. A qualified vCISO can oversee:
- Compliance with all relevant regulatory guidelines
- Analysis of current cybersecurity strengths and weaknesses
- Proactive measures like penetration testing
On top of the individual expertise of a given vCISO qualified personnel also boast vast networks across various infosec fields and industries. These resources can be tapped into for assistance with any cybersecurity need that might arise.
So, in practice, even one vCISO professional working alone is never just one person—more often than not, it includes a dedicated team of professionals.
Entrusting this individual or network with your cybersecurity allows your in-house IT team and other staff to focus on important tasks. It alleviates some of the burden.
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Efficiency Across Your Whole Team
Inefficiency is never a good thing.
For smaller organizations with more modest resources and budgets IT and other technologically inclined staff are often stretched thin.
Various tasks unrelated to their official position consume labor hours that could otherwise be devoted to productive work toward projects or routine maintenance. Rather than walking new employees through basic security training, engineers and other technically proficient staff should be focused on research, development, and maintenance. Hiring a vCISO from outside the organization frees up your staff to do the work you originally hired them to do.
The outside perspective can provide an objective viewpoint and critical insights an insider might be oblivious to.
Objectivity and Insight
To ensure accuracy it’s imperative to minimize any biases that could cloud your judgement.
With respect to your organization it’s hard to say that anyone inside of it could be truly impartial when assessing its various strengths and weaknesses. The smaller or newer a business is, the truer this can be. For both start-ups and small businesses community tightness and identification with the brand can lead to major lapses in objectivity.
Beyond personal connection to an organization internal employees also have a slew of dynamics and politics to think about, including:
- Upward growth within the organization
- Potential jumps to other organizations
- Lateral connections to other employees
- Reputation among superiors
- Power over subordinates
All of this can impact the performance of a given IT employee.
For example, imagine that a preventable breach happens under an employee’s watch, but nobody else knows about it. If the employee could hide the breach and any errors leading up to it, they may appear more competent in the eyes of their managers. And upper management would have no way to trace where the slip-up occurred.
With an external vCISO there’s no motivation for shoddy or dishonest tactics.
Everything You Need from a CISO, Virtually
The biggest benefit of a vCISO is cost efficiency.
Companies that can afford to hire in-house CISOs tend to do so. Having staff dedicated to protecting your sensitive data is extremely important, and the job of a CISO is ultimately to safeguard an organization from within.
A vCISO does the same thing but from a vantage point outside the organization. A vCISO handles all the requirements that a CISO is tasked with, like:
- Governance and compliance
- Security operations and architecture
- Management of access and risk
- Loss Prevention
A vCISO provides all the benefits of a CISO for a fraction of the price.
Virtual CISO Cost
By entrusting a vCISO you get all the benefits of expert cybersecurity oversight without the major expense of employing a c-level executive.
More than anything else, it’s a great deal.
Cost of an Internal CISO
Companies with their own CISOs pay a premium for their services.
According to the relatively conservative estimates by Payscale, salaries for full-time internal CISOs can be quite high:
- The median salary is $162,627 dollars per year
- The bottom 10 percentile earns up to $105 thousand dollars per year
- The top 10 percentile earns over $225 thousand dollars per year
Per Salary.com the figures are much higher. Their data indicates that most internal CISOs make between $199,358 and $263,369 dollars per year. In addition:
- The bottom 10 percentile earns up to $173,150 dollars per year
- The top 10 percentile earns over $295,440 dollars per year
This is a high-paid position when it’s full-time and internal. In addition to these salaries, CISOs usually receive expensive benefits and command hefty bonuses.
When you employ a full-time internal CISO, you’re employing a senior expert who’s not just on call but present at all times.
Virtual CISO Pricing
In comparison, external vCISOs are much more affordable.
By outsourcing the work you can avoid the exaggerated overhead of a high annual salary, particularly for work that can be done periodically on a case-by-case basis. In addition, you don’t have to pay benefit packages or annual bonuses.
An on-demand solution is a major way you can cut costs and maximize ROI.
According to one industry analyst at CSO, you can expect a vCISO to cost your organization about 30 to 40 percent of what an in-house CISO would command. That means savings of up to 70 percent on base pay. And that’s not all.
With an external vCISO, there’s no need to dedicate resources for:
- Training and onboarding
- Potential infighting or office politics
- Acclimation and integration into your business culture
And, as noted above, a vCISO enables the rest of your in-house staff to focus their time and energy on tasks more closely related to their job descriptions. Maximizing efficiency is key to minimizing costs.
With a vCISO you’re simply paying a much lower price for the same—or better!—results.
Professionalize Your Cybersecurity with RSI
Given the potentially huge savings of hiring a vCISO, the decision makes sense for many small- to medium-sized organizations. Even larger companies with sufficient funds for a full-time CISO can benefit from the efficiency and objectivity an outside vCISO can provide.
With over a decade of experience providing vCISO and other cybersecurity services to businesses of all sizes RSI Security is your first and best option for cybersecurity.
Our mission is to simplify cybersecurity solutions for your organization. We save you time, money, and headaches by analyzing and bolstering your defense systems. We enable you to focus on what you do best: providing the goods and services your customers need. For professional cybersecurity you can trust contact RSI today!