CISO responsibilities can have an impact on processes and operations throughout an organization, from the devices and apps used by employees, to which websites they're allowed to visit using company resources, to how they access, store and share work documents.

Finding a suitable CISO to add to the C-level suite is an important operation for SMEs looking to engage leadership for:

  • Cybersecurity operations
  • Risk analysis
  • Security architecture
  • Access management
  • Loss prevention
  • Data governance and compliance

However, finding a qualified CISO is a challenge that many organizations struggle with. A full-time CISO may be too cost-inefficient, prohibitively demanding logistically, or too far removed from the enterprise's core operations to successfully source from within. Fortunately, an alternative solution to hiring a traditional, in-house CISO exists virtual CISO (vCISO) as a service.

A virtual CISO provides leadership for all the bulleted processes above, and more. A virtual CISO provider is sourced outside the organization; however, collaboration is very close. This arrangement delivers the performance of a traditional, in-house CISO while allowing the organization to enjoy benefits that include lower cost, access to higher skills and experience, and flexibility to scale as needed.

Related Reading: The Cybersecurity Talent Shortage: Myth or Truth?

Do You Need a Virtual CISO?

The following four scenarios highlight common drivers that spur enterprises to consider adding performance and value with a virtual CISO:

Your industry is subject to high regulation and compliance requirements.

Certain industries – healthcare, finance, insurance, energy, retail, and others – routinely deal with sensitive data and/or processes, and the consequences of an incident are more severe. Higher regulations and compliance requirements are a part of doing business in those environments. Certain regulatory organizations even require companies to appoint someone in a CISO role as a basic function of compliance:

  • The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) used the NYDFS Cybersecurity Regulation as the basis for their own Insurance Data Security Model Law MDL-668. NAIC is encouraging all other states to adopt this as a new standard, including the requirement to “designate one or more employees, an affiliate, or an outside vendor designated to act on behalf of the Licensee who is responsible for the Information Security Program.”

A vCISO can provide the necessary leadership to meet higher levels of regulation and compliance, by limiting exposure to threats, optimizing incident response, and better managing risk.

Related Reading: The Rise of the Chief Privacy Officer: Why Enterprises Are Adding C-Level Leadership for Personal Data Privacy

You urgently need leadership.

Many enterprises are faced with a time constraint when they make the decision that a CISO is no longer a luxury but a necessity: Customers, regulators, or their own security needs are pressing for a solution. Enterprises are then faced with the prospect of a lengthy recruiting and training process, while challenged by a threat environment that is continuously evolving.

When there's no time or insufficient resources available to find a suitable candidate within your organization, virtual CISO services can condense the search, onboarding, and training processes from months to a matter of days. Using a managed security service provider allows your organization to access expert talent immediately while shrinking your window of vulnerability. The outsourcing agency can even assist you in vetting candidates for a permanent position once you’re ready.

You're a startup with a limited budget and resources.

Startups and small, entrepreneurial organizations are often challenged by smaller budgets, limited staff and time resources, and the need to have all hands on deck for mission-critical operations. Finding a capable in-house CISO can be all but impossible in these circumstances.

Using vCISO services allows budding organizations to access executive-level leadership, without diverting precious resources away from core operations. You can have effective information security guidance and oversight, but not have to make sacrifices that might stand in the way of your goals.

Your organization is growing in scale and complexity.

More infrastructure, more customers, more employees, and more partners create a context for increased risk and expanded responsibilities. Those elements inevitably increase the amount of data you collect and create new challenges to effectively store, manage and protect that data. Add to that the need to protect and maintain expanding technology stacks, engineer more efficient architectures, and implement a framework for continuous improvement, and it's clear that robust information security leadership is required to help sustain performance.

Enterprises can turn to virtual CISO services to accomplish their goals for growth. An outsider's perspective is often ideal in situations in which a company has expanded beyond its original objectives and anticipated capabilities. An objective source can undertake a comprehensive assessment of risks, recommend adjustments to architecture, services, applications, and staff, and implement scalable security remedies.

What Can You Expect from a Virtual CISO?

You can expect everything from a virtual CISO you would expect from a traditional, in-house CISO, including advice, strategic guidance, and operational oversight for:

  • Creation and management of cybersecurity policies
  • Vulnerability assessments
  • Penetration testing
  • Cybersecurity staff sourcing and training
  • System and Organization Controls (SOC) reporting, security auditing, and compliance
  • Incident detection and response

Adding virtual CISO services is easier and faster than you might think. To learn more about how your company can benefit from enhanced consumer privacy leadership, contact us for more information about Avertium's virtual CISO solutions.

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