The benefits of a virtual CISO

Ever wonder what the benefits of a virtual CISO are?

As you may know, a “Chief Information Security Officer” is charged with leadership and strategy for cybersecurity in an organization. Every organization that has employee information and any kind of sensitive data should have a robust cybersecurity program.

A Virtual Chief Information Security Officer is where the organization contracts with an outside party, rather than hiring an individual to fill this role. It can also be referred to as an Outsourced CISO, Fractional CISO, Virtual ISO (Virtual Information Security Officer), among other terms.

So why do some organizations choose the virtual route?

There are many benefits to a Virtual CISO, and we have compiled a list of the most compelling reasons.

  1. Independent – Independence for the CISO position from IT Operations is essential to any organization with limited staff, this can be a challenge. A Virtual CISO can be a great way to solve this. Not only is the vCISO independent from IT, but office politics as well.
  2. Expertise – Hiring and keeping experienced CISOs is tough, so a Virtual Chief Information Security Officer can be a way to improve the organizations cybersecurity posture without adding another FTE. More importantly, if you go with a company that has several vCISO clients, the group knowledge of their client base can be invaluable. vCISO’s and vCIO’s with big 4 consulting experience tend to have the breadth and depth of experience that can be extremity beneficial.
  3. Continuity – Having an in-house CISO can be great, until someone else hires them. A Virtual CISO can offer any organization continuity in this role. Even if people move, there’s the benefit of having the continued relationship with the company and the rest of the team, along with the continued processes and approach.
  4. Specialization – If you work with a firm that specializes in Virtual CISO services, this is a huge benefit. Having a vCISO that is focused on doing a few things really well that are aligned with the organizations business vertical can have a positive impact on overall strategy and effectiveness of the role in your organization.
  5. Cost effective – Although many organizations just can’t justify the $175K+ salary of an experienced full-time Chief Information Security Officer, they are finding that a Virtual CISO can have many of the benefits of an FTE at a lower cost. This is often since most smaller organizations don’t need 2000 hours per year for the position. Another factor is that larger organizations are utilizing vCISO services to selectively fill only the highly specialized portion of the role, also saving money.

The Benefits of Consistent Reporting for the vCISO

The independent vCISO team will be working closely with all involved parties in establishing an effective and ongoing cyber and information security program. This will require monthly meetings to review, plan and execute cyber-related activities as well as quarterly or semi-annual executive meetings to update the executive team regarding the latest development in the field and what steps could be taken to address such concerns. This approach will lead to the implementation of the core components of an effective cyber and information security enterprise risk management program as practiced by larger firms, but one that has been adjusted to fit the needs of a middle-market organization.

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