A virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO) is an external expert contracted by your organization to provide CISO services. These services include designing, overseeing, and managing your organization’s overall security strategy. These are high-level, organization-wide strategies, though larger organizations may have different security strategies for different business units. Providing Risk Assessments and Risk Management services to provide senior management with the information to make risk-informed decisions is another major component of CISO services.
Utilizing a vCISO provides access to CISO services and expertise without the need for in-house hiring. Your organization will move from an ad-hoc or disorganized security posture, to a managed, intentional security strategy where security decisions are made based on the needs of the organization and identified risks. This brings about both improved security outcomes, but also potential cost savings as scarce resources (time and money) are more efficiently allocated.
Five major advantages to utilizing a vCISO over hiring a permanent staff are Flexibility, Cost, Expertise, Perspective, and Optimization
a. Work can be done based on your budget and immediate business needs.
b. Only works the number of hours necessary for the task at hand
c. Can be let go or reduced hours when necessary
d. Can focus on the whole organization or only a particular part
a. Full Time CISOs are expensive – Averaging 250K-300K in salary alone. CISO are high level executives and expect competitive bonuses and equity compensation as well.
b. Pay for only what you need: You may not require a full-time CISO
c. Pay only what you can afford: a vCISO can work within your budget to prioritize the most important tasks
a. Many organizations lack in-house security expertise and experience. Leveraging an outside expert allows you to quickly implement security capabilities into your organization.
b. As experts in their field, vCISOs are able to bring experience from many different industries and organizations to provide greater experience than an in-house candidate
c. Access to multiple experts with combined experience and expertise. Greater than a single candidate possess.
d. Provide mentoring for new or inexperienced in-house experts
i. Someone to call when your in-house CISO has a question
a. Provides outside perspective – as outside experts, vCISOs can provide best practices from other organizations, providing fresh insight and ideas you may not have considered
b. Prevents “groupthink” or “tunnel vision” – when groups work together for a long period of time, they begin to think alike. Bringing in an outsider shakes up the dynamic and allows for new ways of thinking.
c. Helps prevent blind spots
i. “You don’t know what you don’t know”
a. You are not in the business of security – unless you are a cyber security firm, your organization’s expertise is in your business field.
b. Your organization does not have in-house security expertise – it takes time to bring a new employee up to speed, even at the best of times. CISO work is highly specialized. You will not be able to task an employee (even a very smart IT employee) with security if that is not their expertise.
c. You are an expert on your business. – A vCISO provides expert knowledge allowing you to focus on your business
d. vCISO improves security culture by focusing on security, while you focus on your core business
e. Rather than taking the time to build internal security capabilities and expertise, a vCISO brings their expertise immediately. Experience with many different industries and organizations allows a vCISO to come up to speed much faster than an internal hire.
Adding a vCISO to your organization can provide a method of quickly and affordably improving your security posture and providing a strategic method of managing your organization’s security. vCISOs can tailor security solutions to your organization’s unique needs and requirements, improving outcomes and protecting your organization both today and tomorrow.