Organizations today host a wide range of information that, due to its external value to competitors, nation-states, or cybercriminals, needs to be properly protected. The role of a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is to establish and maintain the organizational strategy and execution to protect its sensitive and valuable information assets and surrounding technologies.
However, many organizations face talent shortages, the novelty of the CISO role in some companies, burnout, high turnover, and the lack of succession plans to support internal promotions. To address these challenges, organizations can turn to Virtual Chief Information Security Officers (vCISO) and vCISO services. By choosing to utilize a vCISO, businesses can effectively address the needs of the CISO role without having to hire one internally.
Selecting a vCISO Candidate
When choosing a vCISO, it’s essential to align your organization’s security requirements with the candidate’s skills and background. The ideal vCISO candidate should possess fundamental skills that match and preferably expand beyond your business’s security needs, such as:
- Executive-level advisory and presentations
- Risk register creation and tracking
- Cybersecurity roadmap development and management
- Running tabletop exercises for business unit alignment
- Responding to third-party due diligence requests
- Hardware, software, and data risk analysis
- Reporting on metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Overseeing vulnerability and penetration testing
- Managing reporting, steering, and committee meetings
- Incident response plan review and updates
- Security event identification, mitigation, and remediation
- Policy and procedure development
- Budget and planning development
- Security awareness training development and delivery
Choosing a vCISO Services Provider
vCISO services expand the role of an individual vCISO into a team that can lead programs or initiatives. Building a relationship with a vCISO services provider enables businesses to quickly engage resources for large-scale projects, fostering trust and developing valuable partnerships. Consider the following factors when selecting a vCISO services provider:
- Access to a team of experts for specific topics or concerns
- Diverse professionals for quick engagement within your timeline and budget
- Diverse experience across industries and business sizes
- Strategy frameworks and resources for security program development and succession planning
- Flexible retainer and engagement models to meet your needs
- Objective recommendations for security challenges
- The coverage area for regional, national, and global support
Benefits of vCISO Services
vCISO services offer several advantages for organizations seeking to address their cybersecurity needs. By leveraging the expertise and diverse perspectives of vCISOs, companies can gain numerous benefits, including:
- Industry comparison and insights: vCISOs, who work across multiple organizations, can provide valuable insights into industry trends and help businesses understand their cybersecurity maturity compared to their peers. Traditional in-house CISOs may not have this broad perspective.
- Experience with a variety of situations: vCISOs often encounter various scenarios in their work, allowing them to gain condensed experiences and insights that may not be available to in-house CISOs, who typically have a limited view of their organization’s history and normalcy.
- Diverse perspectives on workflows and processes: vCISOs can offer fresh viewpoints and challenge conventional ways of working, fostering innovation and preventing stagnation within the organization.
- Learning from successes and failures: vCISOs can help organizations address common challenges by sharing the lessons learned from their experiences working in diverse environments. This enables businesses to build more effective solutions and avoid repeating mistakes.
- Ability to contextualize situations within the industry: vCISOs can leverage their holistic understanding of both the organization and the industry to inform their recommendations, enhancing the everyday environment and driving innovative responses to situations.
- Potentially reduced costs: Hiring a vCISO can be more cost-effective than employing a full-time CISO, offering valuable insights and expertise without the expense of a senior-level salary.
- Reduced cost in training: vCISO services can provide access to an entire specialized organization’s resources, intellectual property, and trained approaches, saving businesses money on training and development.
- Continuous external validation: vCISOs serve as a constant external checkpoint, ensuring that organizations maintain an objective perspective and don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. While they may not perform a full security audit each month, vCISOs offer ongoing validation by reviewing decisions and workflows, which can complement traditional annual security assessments.
In conclusion, vCISO services provide organizations with a wealth of benefits, from industry insights to cost savings. By selecting the right vCISO candidate and services provider, businesses can address their cybersecurity needs more effectively and efficiently.