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What Is Virtual CISO? Process and Benefits Explained

15 March 2023

Cyber threats are more sophisticated and frequent in today’s digital landscape. As such, your businesses remain constantly threatened by cyber attacks that result in data breaches, reputational damage, and financial loss. So, to mitigate cyber risk, you need to adopt a proactive cybersecurity approach. Here is why having a Virtual Chief Information Security Office, or virtual CISO, is fundamental.

Who Is a Virtual CISO?

Virtual CISO Services

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A Virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO) is a freelance or external consultant who outsources the services of a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) to businesses. A CISO is a senior-level executive who develops and implements an organization’s information security policies and procedures. In the same way, a vCISO is a highly experienced cybersecurity professional who performs these duties virtually.

When looking for a vCISO, you will contact a Virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO)provider. This is an external third-party organization that outsources information security leadership to businesses. The provider usually brings together a team of professionals to work part-time or as-needed. The vCISO teams work closely with internal IT and security teams to create and implement strategic plans and security goals that mitigate the likelihood of cybersecurity incidents in organizations.

Here are some processes a vCISO oversees through the Security Operations Center (SOC):

How Does a vCISO Provider Work?

Importance of Information Security Programs

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As mentioned above, a virtual CISO works remotely to provide cybersecurity expertise and support. You can engage them part-time or on a project-by-project basis. Here is how they work:

Step 1: You will first contact a vCISO provider to discuss your data security needs and their security expertise.

Step 2: When you reach an understanding of the services they offer, they will conduct a needs assessment of your organization to determine your company’s security posture.

Step 3: With the needs assessment results, your vCISO will tailor a cybersecurity strategy based on what your systems need. This strategy could feature new policies, procedures, and security controls. They could also suggest training your employees, deploying new technologies, and making process improvements.

Step 4: The vCISO provider will start implementing your information security program changes.

Step 5: The vCISO provider will monitor your organization’s cybersecurity posture to mitigate any data breach. In addition, they will offer continued support to guarantee the system stays up to date for the best security awareness.

Benefits of Outsourcing a Virtual CISO

Benefits of Outsourcing a Virtual CISO from Sapphire

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Suppose you are looking to improve your current cybersecurity posture. In that case, you wonder whether you should hire a full-time CISO or work with a virtual CISO (vCISO) provider. Here are some benefits the vCISO will bring to your company:

1. Expertise and Core Competencies

Cybersecurity is a complex and rapidly evolving field, and finding someone with the necessary skills and experience to lead your security program can be challenging. By working with a vCISO provider, you will benefit from the expertise of a team of cybersecurity professionals with the knowledge and experience to develop and implement your unique, comprehensive cybersecurity program.

To enjoy a comprehensive cybersecurity program, your CISO has to implement a broad range of measures to protect your organization from cyber threats. But, as seen above, this is a multifaceted process and requires experience, resources, and ongoing support. Unfortunately, an in-house CISO may not have the resources to tackle these challenges fast, and any delays pose a cybersecurity risk.

Virtual CISOs also stay up-to-date with the latest threats and vulnerabilities to adapt your cybersecurity program accordingly. This could be a challenge for a full-time CISO who needs more resources, access to expertise, and time to gather threat intelligence.

2. Saving Costs

Hiring a full-time CISO is expensive, especially for small or medium-sized businesses. Working with a virtual CISO eliminates the costs of hiring a full-time employee, such as salaries, benefits, and overhead. As such, it is a cost-effective way to guarantee the best security.

3. Flexibility to Work on Projects as Needed

A full-time CISO may not always have the flexibility to work on projects as needed. For instance, they may be handling many responsibilities or may not have the necessary expertise to tackle a particular project. So, by outsourcing, you will benefit from the flexibility and scalability of working with ready teams.

However, find a reliable vCISO provider who can scale services up or down to meet your needs and business objectives.

4. Reduced Business Risk

Cybersecurity attacks are a constant threat to businesses of all sizes. But, when you work with a vCISO, you reduce your business risk by implementing effective cybersecurity measures. For instance, a vCISO backed by a hands-on team will quickly identify and mitigate potential cybersecurity threats before they become major incidents.

The team will also perform a comprehensive risk assessment of your organization’s IT infrastructure, applications, and data to identify vulnerabilities and potential risks. Then, they will help you create a risk management strategy to prevent cybersecurity incidents from occurring. Finally, they will help you respond quickly and effectively to cyber attacks to minimize any damage intended.

5. Objective Independence

Objective independence is the impartiality of a vCISO provider when providing cybersecurity advice and recommendations. As a third party, the virtual CISO is not subject to the same internal biases, politics, or constraints that may influence the decision-making of an in-house CISO.

As a result, the vCISO provides unbiased, objective recommendations based solely on the best interests of your organization’s security posture.

6. Supports Compliance Regulations

Compliance with government agencies and regulations is essential to a good cybersecurity plan. However, staying up-to-date with the latest policies and regulations can be challenging, particularly for small or medium-sized businesses without dedicated compliance teams. That is where a virtual CISO comes in.

A reputable vCISO provider offers a team of experts knowledgeable about the latest government policies and regulations, including PCI-DSS, ISO 20071, GDPR, and other NIS regulations.

7. Improving Your In-House Team

A vCISO will significantly benefit your organization’s cybersecurity team by providing additional expertise and support. When you hire a vCISO, your in-house team will work closely with them to identify potential threats and vulnerabilities and develop effective cybersecurity strategies. By doing so, the cybersecurity team will improve their skills and knowledge by better understanding the latest threats and learning how to respond fast.

How to Hire a vCISO

Get a vCISO today!

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When ready to hire a vCISO, you want an organisation with experience, expertise, and credibility to provide you with the best security and support. Here are some factors to consider before you commit:

  1. A proven track record of success.
  2. Reliable expertise. Ensure your vCISO can take different aspects of cybersecurity domains and offer the best services like incident response, risk management, and compliance.
  3. Look for a vCISO who can customize their services to suit your company’s needs.
  4. You vCISO should be a good communicator, so ensure they can explain the cybersecurity concepts in plain language.

Conclusion

In today’s complex and evolving cybersecurity landscape, having a comprehensive cybersecurity program in place is more fundamental than ever. However, your business may not have the resources or expertise to develop and implement such a program, which is where a virtual CISO (vCISO) is invaluable.

A vCISO provides cybersecurity expertise and support tailored to your organization’s unique requirements. They will identify and mitigate cybersecurity risks, develop and implement effective security controls and policies, and respond to security incidents quickly and effectively.

Ultimately, engaging a vCISO ensures your organization is well protected against cyber threats today, giving you the peace of mind to focus on your core business activities.

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