Benefits of a Virtual CISO

November 15, 2022 | By IANS Faculty

Driven by a growing number of sophisticated threats and an ever-evolving regulatory environment, demand for CISO talent remains at a premium. Unfortunately, many HR teams at smaller and mid-market organizations lack proper resources to identify top cyber talent and are challenged to attract top candidates due to expected salary requirements.  

To help address the hiring challenge facing these organizations, the vCISO position is a viable option that can provide benefits beyond a traditional CISO leadership role

What is a vCISO? 

A vCISO provides a level of experience consistent with that of a traditional CISO but affords organizations more flexibility based on the business’ specific requirements, goals and available resources. 

vCISO firms offer proven cybersecurity executives as a service on a retainer or a part-time basis, providing CISO insight and guidance without the need to hire a full-time executive. A vCISO can ensure security compliance, evaluate current security measures and develop a cybersecurity strategy for data asset protection. Other examples of services vCISOs can provide are to:

  • Develop and execute strategic plans
  • Evaluate the organization’s maturity level
  • Mentor junior team members
  • Set security budgets and resources
  • Validate cybersecurity controls
  • Enhance IT security controls
  • Monitor cybersecurity effectiveness and system health

Benefits of a vCISO for the Business

A vCISO can offer flexible security solutions for small and medium-sized businesses without the budget for a full-time CISO. vCISOs can also serve as a sensible option for larger organizations as a stop gap between CISO hires in the event of a vacancy.

Because of their prior experience as a full-time CISO, a vCISO has the ability to evaluate a security program’s current state and quickly identify and prioritize needs.

Advantages to using a vCISO include:

  • Clear unbiased insight into cybersecurity requirements
  • Ability to align the cybersecurity program to the company mission and appropriate security framework
  • An understanding of the risk of third-party vendor relationships
  • Ability to mentor and increase retention of the cybersecurity team

READ:  What Is the Ideal CISO Reporting Structure? 


How to Find a vCISO 

While a vCISO is an efficient alternative to an in-house CISO, smaller organizations may face some challenges when searching for, retaining and managing their vCISO. Finding the right vCISO to meet your organization’s needs is critical and takes time.

When choosing to go through a vCISO provider, consider:

  • Your business size and growth potential, the risk level associated with operations and available resources to implement security recommendations.
  • Your budget and needs to determine whether a part-time or full-time vCISO would be best. For those with flexibility for full-time vCISO services, you could build your security strategy and later transition to on-going cybersecurity program maintenance. For most growing businesses with limited resources, a vCISO part time makes more sense financially. 

DOWNLOAD:  2022 CISO Compensation Benchmark Report


3 Tips for an Effective vCISO Relationship 

To establish a vCISO engagement that benefits your security program: 

  • Choose a vCISO with extensive experience relating to your security objectives. Consider any technical, business and strategic information security solutions that could benefit your business. 
  • Embrace the flexibility of scalable vCISO resources. Determine which option is right for you: a retainer for set hours, a short-term project or block of time or a long-term agreement.
  • Trust your vCISO to understand your organization’s mission and align cybersecurity projects to support it.

Whether you need to overhaul your existing strategy or bridge a leadership gap for a few months, a vCISO service can be a viable option for your organization. 

Although reasonable efforts will be made to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the information contained in our blog posts, no liability can be accepted by IANS or our Faculty members for the results of any actions taken by individuals or firms in connection with such information, opinions, or advice.


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