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vCISO: Everything you need to know

Data has become the most valuable asset a company has, powering business opportunities and forming strategies for future business growth. Keeping business data and sensitive information secure, and having a cyber security and data protection compliance strategy is a must for all organizations, regardless of industry.

Yet despite the increasingly changing cybersecurity landscape and tighter regulations across many industries, many businesses don’t have the time to fully consider the disadvantages of an inadequate information security framework. Businesses often prioritize other resources and roles before they think of hiring a chief information security officer (CISO). 

What is a vCISO?

The importance of cybersecurity has risen in organizations. With the increase in cyber-attacks, data breaches, attack sophistication, and information security, organizations are looking to implement a comprehensive set of controls and technologies. A CISO is a perfect solution to this need, being responsible for all aspects of cybersecurity policy and strategy in a firm. 

Finding a qualified CISO is a problem for many organizations. It could be too costly, too logistically challenging, or too distant from the company's core operations to adequately source a full-time CISO. Fortunately, a vCISO (virtual chief information security officer) service can be utilized as an alternative, to develop, implement, and maintain an organization’s cybersecurity program to ensure a more secure IT infrastructure across the entire business for the long-term. 

What does a virtual CIO do?

An organization’s technology network must run efficiently, and a virtual CIO wears many hats to ensure this. They usually have several roles and responsibilities based on their expertise and insight. 

Virtual CISO services can include:

  • Compliance reporting
  • Managed SIEM
  • Managed SOC
  • Penetration testing
  • Security incident response and remediation
  • Intrusion detection, monitoring and management
  • Security assessment

vCISO vs CISO - which is better? 

The idea of hiring a virtual CISO has grown in demand with organizations for several reasons:

  1. CISOs are in demand – CISOs are in high demand because cybersecurity has become a top priority for companies. As attacks increase in frequency, data breaches become more sophisticated, and companies focus more on information protection, companies looking to set up comprehensive security controls and technologies must employ a CISO. A vCISO can be hired quickly using a vCISO, saving time and money. 
  2. CISOs are expensive – The cost of employing a CISO in 2022 is between $200,000 and $300,000 a year, and not every company can afford to employ one. A vCISO allows businesses to avoid the cost of employing a full-time CISO and only paying for the services and resources needed. 
  3. vCISOs offer more experience – A vCISO has worked across diverse industries for clients of different sizes, giving them a broad range of expertise and knowledge. 
  4. vCISOs can be located anywhere – Instead of hiring a local person (which restricts your choices) or paying to have a candidate relocate, the vCISO functions as a consultant, working anywhere, giving the company more exposure to potential candidates. 
  5. vCISOs are cost effective – a vCISO is a contractor who will perform required tasks based on an agreed-upon scope of work, so you are only paying the services you need. 

Which businesses need a vCISO?

Organizations are beginning to understand the significance of effective security measures as cyber-attacks become more frequent. Leveraging cybersecurity expertise through vCISO services can make significant progress toward that goal. 

Compliance: certain industries such as healthcare, finance, insurance, energy, and others, deal with highly confidential data and processes, and the fallout from a security incident or data breach is consequently more dire. These IT environments necessitate higher regulations and compliance standards as a consequence. Some regulatory bodies even require the appointment of a CISO as a prerequisite for compliance and regulation requirements to be met, through reduction of risk exposure, improving risk management and incident response, etc. 

Immediacy: as mentioned earlier, many businesses just don’t prioritize hiring a full-time security specialist to oversee an information security program, but they have very real and immediate concerns about network security or threat management and security monitoring. A vCISO can provide these organizations with the ability to gain access to immediate expertise while reducing their window of vulnerability. 

Limited budget: start-up companies and small to medium-sized businesses often have very limited budgets, small numbers of employees, and time limitations that make it difficult to keep the fundamental aspects of business operations top of mind. An in-house CISO may be financially impossible, and even a part-time internal security specialist may be unnecessary for the size of the company. With vCISO services, these companies can receive executive-level security guidance and oversight without diverting resources from their core business.  

Increased scalability and complexity: as businesses grow and expand, they can take on more customers, employees, and their IT infrastructure needs to scale accordingly. This means there are more opportunities to add technology stacks and better IT architecture to continually improve their security posture and business growth. 

Expertise: Virtual CISO services can help you reach your business goals. An outsider's perspective is frequently advantageous when a firm has expanded outside of its original goals and capacities. A virtual CISO can assess risks, recommend architectural changes, and implement comprehensive security solutions. 

Leverage a vCISO service for your business

Hiring a full-time security professional is not an option for many organizations today. The ThreatAdvice Breach Prevention Platform is a cybersecurity solution that provides your business with the experience of a highly skilled security team, for a fraction of the cost. With a simple and comprehensive approach to overseeing risk assessment and security needs, our world-class platform offers advanced protection to keep your business secure. Contact the security experts at ThreatAdvice today