Security isn’t an option for any business these days. Not only is it vital to protect the information that you gather and store, but more and more companies are being asked by their customers and vendors to verify their security posture as a requirement for doing business. That means that you not only need a cybersecurity strategy, you need to be able to communicate your strategy and that’s where a Virtual Chief Information Officer (vCISO) comes in.
In this article, we'll explain what a Virtual Chief Information Officer (vCISO) is, where you can find one and these five benefits you get when you have one:
- Affordable Guidance for Executive Decisions
- High Level of Security Expertise
- More effective cyber risk Management
- Fast Ramp Up for Cybersecurity Initiatives
- Improved Accountability to Stakeholders.
What is a vCISO?
The vCISO is a person or a team that serves as a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) but exists outside the organization. It’s an outsourced executive-level consultant who helps you make well-informed decisions about how you’re going to manage cyber risk and keeps you up to date as the threat landscape changes.
You may not have ever heard about bringing in an outside person to play this important role in your company, but it’s really not that different from bringing in a fractional CFO or General Counsel when a full-time position isn’t warranted. Additionally, hiring a well-qualified CISO can be cost prohibitive to many organizations making a vCISO an attractive alternative to defend against increasing cybersecurity threats.
Where Do You Find a vCISO?
Managed IT service providers that have expertise in cybersecurity provide vCISO services along with vCIO consulting. Just like a vCIO, vCISO’s have knowledge about both technology and business that they bring to business leaders enabling them to connect the dots between business goals and IT.
While a vCISO at a managed service provider (MSP) has advanced expertise in cybersecurity, they also have a team of cybersecurity experts behind them who are proactively managing the security process and providing information that will help the vCISO make recommendations as cyber threats evolve.
Communicating About Cybersecurity Externally
Before we get into the top benefits that a vCISO can bring your company, let’s talk about something we mentioned at the beginning of this article and that’s communicating your cybersecurity strategy.
A vCISO can step in when you need to provide documentation about your security strategy to customers or vendors. In fact, accountability for security and compliance with specific security standards is trending upward.
Additionally, a vCISO can help you with cyber insurance applications, ensuring that you’re representing your security controls accurately. Accuracy counts when you, the executive, have to sign on the dotted line attesting that the information contained in the application is correct.
Benefits of Utilizing a vCISO
If you’re not already convinced that the services of a vCISO are vital, read on for more benefits that
1. Affordable Guidance for Executive Decisions
It doesn’t make sense for most small businesses to hire a full-time CISO. Outsourcing the function allows you to get access to the expertise of these cybersecurity experts without having to pay a full-time salary.
Other costs associated with information security headcount that you won’t need to shoulder include the hiring and training processes as well as office space and equipment expenditures. With a vCISO, your organization can hit the ground running instead of spending weeks or months searching for the right hires and subsequently training and retaining them.
2. Get a High Level of Security Expertise
When working with a vCISO, you automatically gain access to a team with a breadth of knowledge working in different industries and business models. They stay current with identifying new types of cybersecurity threats and how to build contingency plans to protect against them.
With internal personnel, companies typically only view security through one lens. With a vCISO, your company will receive the attention and commitment from one point of contact, but also have access to a team of experts.
3. More Effective Cyber Risk Management
A vCISO will help your company to become better at evaluating risk. They'll think of things that you don't, like the risk that is inherent in your employee pool. For example, an underperforming employee can cost a company more than their salary if their behavior compromises security.
They'll also make sure that you iterate on your cybersecurity strategy when your risk profile changes, or when there are changes in the threat landscape.
4. Fast Ramp UP For Cybersecurity Initiatives
vCISO service providers can help their clients scale their cybersecurity plans with their current technology. Your vCISO partner can help tailor the right cybersecurity plan for your business then implement it quickly.
Teams of experts accustomed to a variety of ERP and other enterprise systems understand the vulnerabilities and challenges when it comes to cybersecurity. In-house CISOs often serve as both the executive and the staffer making it difficult to get projects off the ground at an urgent pace.
5. Improved Accountability to Stakeholders
A vCISO can help marry your cybersecurity plan with your corporate strategy. vCISO teams serve all levels within an organization from providing engineers to project managers to policy writers to meet the needs of your cybersecurity program.
Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility and implementing a comprehensive plan involves meeting expectations of stakeholders and various levels. Remaining accountable to all stakeholders provides balance in the cybersecurity program that is often difficult for an internal CISO to deliver.
Related: How to Get People to Care About Cybersecurity
The New Executive Role Your Business Needs
In a world where your business survival depends on your security, it’s good to know that you can get access to strategic cybersecurity guidance without having to add another full-time role to your business. Even if your vCISO doesn’t attend your leadership meetings, the knowledge that you gain from consulting with them can have a big effect on executive-level decisions.
Up Your Cybersecurity Game
Here at XPERTECHS, clients get vCIO and vCISO guidance that enable them to make well-informed decisions and become good managers of cyber risk. If that’s not what you’re getting from your managed IT services provider, it’s time to up your game.