A Virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO) helps organizations to protect their infrastructure, data, people and customers. A vCISO is a top security expert that builds the client organization’s cybersecurity program. The Virtual CISO works with the existing management and technical teams. You may be wondering if your organization needs a vCISO. This article aims to cover all the considerations for engaging with a Virtual CISO.
How an organization uses its vCISO depends on the business itself. The organization’s structure, products and services, markets and IT context all factor in.
Some companies are content to just sit and wait for problems – but that kind of apathy can be fatalistic.
In most cases, waiting around is a terrible strategy! A Virtual CISO helps a firm to be proactive when initiative counts.
When a company is struggling to implement security, comply with industry regulations, and outpace competitors, a vCISO can help. Virtual CISOs provide guidance and measure the results of the client’s cybersecurity program.
Reading this, you may be wondering if your organization needs a Virtual CISO. Here are some of the things that these top pros can do to help your company toward success and security.
A Virtual CISO: Protect Your Organization
Managing cybersecurity in today’s world is almost indescribably tough. Many business leadership teams, don’t feel up to the challenge, or they understand that outside firepower can enhance a security model.
Most mid-sized firms have some technical personnel or contractors that handle most of the technical needs of security. But who is looking at the big picture of cybersecurity for the organization?
Often this is a CIO, CTO, COO, Chief Compliance Officer or another executive that has a full plate of responsibilities. This executive might not have the bandwidth to cover their enterprise’s cybersecurity program. That gap leads to unnecessary risk!
Other organizations choose to put a mid-level technical manager in charge of security. These folks also have a full-time job. They don’t have the executive presence to influence senior management. They need buy-in for key security programs – especially when there’s a time-sensitive project. It’s not that these people aren’t working hard enough to implement best practices – it’s just that the company doesn’t have the tools that it needs to achieve!
A Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is a senior-level team member. The CISO establishes and maintains an enterprise’s security vision, strategy, and programs. The role ensures information assets and technologies are appropriately protected. Most large organizations have a full-time CISO to handle their cybersecurity needs. Mid-range companies and smaller may not have such a role. Having a non-security expert in charge of security is a recipe for trouble!
A Virtual CISO is designed to provide expert security guidance through:
- Understanding the organization’s strategy and business environment
- Providing threat analysis and strategy updates in real-time
- Anticipating future security and compliance challenges
- Overseeing mid-level and analyst/engineering teams
- Discovery, triage, remediation and evaluation of threats
All of this and more contributes to a safer, better positioned corporate vantage point.
Filling In as an Interim CISO
There are many cases where a larger organization’s CISO departs due to a new role, termination or an illness. In these cases, the organization needs a qualified person to manage its cybersecurity. The mandate to “handle security in real-time” means the CISO desk should not ever be empty: if an interim presence is needed, a vCISO is a valuable solution.
Why Do Companies Hire a Virtual CISO?
Companies are getting aggressive about getting a CISO on board for a number of reasons.
One is the range of new cybersecurity regulations that companies have to deal with. Past industry standards like PCI and HIPAA are now joined by bold new privacy and security rules that change how we view the company’s responsibility to safeguard data. Perhaps the best recent example is the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that’s having so much of an effect not just in the EU, but around the globalized business community.
Then there are the cautionary examples: data breaches splashed across the front page, chilling tales of pilfered data, identity theft, and commercial loss.
These are two of the biggest drivers toward a CISO strategy that plans for every eventuality, including an empty chair.
A Virtual CISO from Fractional CISO
With a vCISO from Fractional CISO, every engagement is a little different. In every case, the vCISO will work to understand your business environment, culture and objectives.
Then the Virtual CISO will get to work on:
- Starting a cybersecurity risk assessment based on your organization’s assets
- Establishing the organization’s cybersecurity strategy
- Building a cybersecurity plan and program
- Building a Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) program
- Maintaining core security operations
- Focusing on people including managing personnel, contractors and/or vendors
- Building and executing a training strategy
Fractional CISO’s Virtual CISO service also involves:
- Understanding the business environment and matching a management style that resonates with the customer
- Quickly building trusted relationships with key personnel, resulting in a more successful cybersecurity program
- Meeting customer requirements with a flexible Virtual CISO program
- Having great templates and systems in place to maximize leverage.
A typical engagement involves being on-site for two to three weeks of the first eight weeks of the process. On-site participation varies based on customer preference and the requirements of the engagement. For more details on the Fractional CISO offerings, check out our services and offerings.
More vCISO Benefits
The key benefit of hiring a Virtual CISO is that you get the same expertise and capability as a full-time CISO. But you don’t have the associated level of overhead, benefits, and training. A firm can achieve its security goals related to prioritization, risk evaluation and training.
Virtual CISO Requirements
It’s important for a CISO to have a sufficient background in security, to understand the security landscape. The CISO has to keep up to date with the latest in the security industry. How can you make sure that a prospective CISO is a security expert?
Cybersecurity credentials can help. A CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) or CISM certificate is just part of the proof of capability for a CISO. The CISO needs to be able to talk intelligently about systems and compliance and translate that knowledge to teams. This role needs to have “people skills” as well as “tech skills” and expertise in the industry. That combination helps companies to safeguard their systems and re-organize for the business world of the future.
Next Steps with a Virtual CISO
If you would like to discuss whether a Virtual CISO is right for you, please give us a call for a complimentary consultation. We can be reached at (617) 658-3276 and our email is [email protected]. Let us help you to achieve your goals for cybersecurity!