Today, organizations of all sizes recognize the importance of maintaining a secure infrastructure and building strong cybersecurity practices. Following the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats, companies need to rely upon security professionals to protect their sensitive data. Many organizations are turning to the services of a virtual Chief Information Security Officer, also known as a vCISO.
A vCISO is a senior-level security professional that provides consulting, assessment, and recommendations to meet the specific needs of an organization. Their services provide a cost-effective way to supplement a company’s existing in-house security team. vCISOs help bridge the gap between the daily operations of the business with the security risks and threats associated with managing a digital environment.
What Services Does a vCISO Render?
The vCISO provides an added layer of protection to an organization by offering guidance and insight on best practices in security technology and operational security, helping them stay ahead of the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape. So, what services does a vCISO provide?
- Virtual CISOs Provide Executive Advice to Firms
Risk Assessment: The vCISO will assess the organization’s current risk posture and develop a risk management strategy to ensure that the organization is meeting industry standards.
Security Strategy Development: The vCISO will work with the executive team to develop a security strategy that is tailored to the organization’s needs.
Security Program Operations: The vCISO will oversee the operations of the security program and ensure that changes are implemented in a timely and cost-effective manner.
- Virtual CISOs Provide Security Engineering
Review of Security Standards & Policies: The vCISO will review the organization’s current security standards and policies and ensure that they are compliant with industry best practices.
Security Architecture Design: The vCISO will develop a comprehensive security architecture that takes into account organizational needs and industry standards.
Network & Security Operations: The vCISO will ensure that the organization’s network and security operations are up-to-date and aligned with the organization’s strategy.
- Security Testing Services are Provided by vCISOs
Vulnerability Assessments: The vCISO will perform vulnerability assessments to identify and address weaknesses in the organization’s security infrastructure.
Vulnerability Remediation: The vCISO will work with the organization to remediate any identified vulnerabilities.
Hersey Testing: The vCISO will conduct Hersey testing to ensure that the organization’s security processes are resistant to malicious activity.
- vCISOs Help Organizations to Achieve Security Compliance
Regulatory & Industry Compliance: The vCISO will ensure that the organization is compliant with all relevant laws and regulations.
Audits: The vCISO will coordinate and manage all security audits to ensure that the organization’s processes are up to date.
Business Continuity Planning: The vCISO will develop and implement plans to ensure that the organization can continue its operations during a time of crisis or disruption.
To further prove this point, let’s look at the CISO’s role on both the security and compliance sides of organization operations:
End-to-End Security Operations
- Evaluating the IT threat landscape
- Developing policies and controls to reduce risk
- Security awareness and training
- Overseeing controls related to networks, cloud applications, servers, endpoint and infrastructure
- Verification checks for job candidates
- Ensure incident management processes are in place
- Auditing vulnerability management
- Leading auditing and compliance
- Management & HR
- Cybersecurity policy and procedures
Recovery & Business Continuity
- Guaranteeing cyber backups are in place
- Analyzing cyber incident response plan
- Implementing a cyber resilience framework
Related article: How to Simplify Cybersecurity Efforts.
Why vCISOs are in High Demand
A virtual CISO has many of the same responsibilities as a traditional CISO, but with the advantage of being able to access resources, such as security and privacy professionals, without having to hire in-house. It is particularly beneficial for businesses with limited budgets who may not be able to afford the high salaries and overhead costs associated with a full-time CISO. Additionally, the virtual CISO model enables companies to have access to specialist IT security experts and experienced professionals who can offer advice and support on an as-needed basis.
The vCISO model is also a great way for businesses to take advantage of new security technologies, or quickly respond to changing compliance requirements. A vCISO will be able to assess the organization’s security landscape quickly and take the initiative to implement necessary security changes or upgrades. They can think outside the box and come up with new ideas on how to better protect your business from security threats.
Overall, the virtual CISO model offers companies flexibility and access to the latest security technologies without the same associated financial commitment. By leveraging the services of an experienced virtual CISO, companies can alleviate some of the stress associated with managing their digital security and privacy initiatives while still ensuring the safety of their data and customers.
Considerations for Engaging a Fractional CISO
When recruiting a vCISO, there are a few things to consider. First and foremost, hire someone who has the right experience and certification. While experience is essential, look for someone whose skills also match the needs of the organization. For example, if the organization has a larger IT network, look for someone who is familiar with more advanced security protocols. The vCISO should also be invested in the organization’s security mission. Engagement and enthusiasm among vCISOs are essential, as they will be the driving force behind the organization’s security strategy and execution.
Find someone who has a proven track record of success and is highly interested in developing the organization. Another important factor is to determine the type of services you’ll need. For example, will the vCISO develop policies and procedures? Will they help with incident response and disaster recovery? Will they create security awareness campaigns? It’s crucial to understand the vCISO’s skill set and the services that they can offer. Finally, think about the cost and budget. A vCISO typically charges an hourly rate, so make sure that the organization is comfortable with the rate. Also, consider any project-level fees that may be incurred.
Having an experienced vCISO on your organization’s staff can provide tremendous value in securing your infrastructure, data, and mission-critical resources. vCISOs will analyze the risk, suggest and implement security controls, and ensure that the organization is informed and educated on the most current security practices. So, if you’re thinking about investing in a vCISO to help protect your business, you’re making the right choice.