What is a vCISO (and should you hire one)?

April 15, 2022by Rob McBride0

Cyber Security is now a regular topic on most boards, which has made filling the role of Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) more critical than ever.  Unfortunately, for many businesses the cost of finding, hiring and retaining a skilled CISO remains prohibitive.  Step in the Virtual CISO (vCISO).  In this article we explain what is a vCISO, what service can you expect a vCISO to provide and what are the relative advantages in comparison to a traditional internal CISO.

What is a vCISO?

In a nutshell, a vCISO is an outsourced security professional. They use their cyber security knowledge and industry experience to help a portfolio of organisations develop and implement an successful information security strategy.

There are several reasons you might consider hiring a vCISO, including:

  • Where your organisation is complex.
  • If your company’s risk tolerance is particularly low.
  • When you have limited internal knowledge or require a specific skill set.
  • If your attack surface is broad.
  • When the industry is highly regulated.
  • If you hold a lot of sensitive information or personal data.

What can a vCISO do?

At the most basic level, a vCISO is there to augment your in-house team and support the development of your information security strategy. But the role also provides a wealth of additional value, including:

  • Information security planning and management.
  • Advising on the organisational and management structure.
  • Highlighting initiatives that affect information practices.
  • Developing security risk management procedures.
  • Evaluating third parties with access to your data.
  • Coordinating regulatory audits.

One of the biggest benefits in adopting a vCISO is the fact they are external. By being able to make the distinction between work and non-work, as well as set explicit expectations for their engagement, their focus will always be on delivering the best outcome to your organisation.

Furthermore, a virtual CISO is likely to be well-established – the UK-based vCISOs we provide at CyPro typically have a minimum of 10-years of information security management experience. It means you can take advantage of their extensive knowledge to further your security maturity, lay the foundations for ISO 27001 and ISO 9001, as well as tap into their network when you need other specialist skills.

What are the advantages of hiring a vCISO?

Access to talent

There is a global talent shortage. According to Global Snapshot: The CISO in 2020, two-thirds of businesses struggle to recruit senior cyber security talent. A virtual CISO eliminates the headache of hiring because you have that senior resource available whenever you need it.

A cost-effective way to maintain information security systems

It’s not cheap to hire a CISO. According to Glassdoor, the national average salary is £117,000pa, stretching to £250,000pa. Hire a virtual CISO to access the same resource at 30%-40% of the cost to hire in-house.

Extend your in-house capabilities

It’s a hard job. According to the CISO Benchmark Report, 42% of CISOs are suffering from cyber security fatigue from dealing with an increasingly complex environment. Hire a virtual CISO for a fresh pair of eyes, specialist skills and renewed passion to keep your business protected.

Reduce the impact of new risks

Virtual CISOs have more experience. Working with several organisations across multiple sectors, they have the foresight of potential attacks that may soon impact your business. With that intelligence, they have time to identify appropriate improvements to boost your level of protection.

Trialling a vCISO

Another great advantage of hiring a vCISO is that there is no long-term commitment.  A good starting point is to bring in a vCISO for a trial period, explain your current concerns and issues and seek some initial advice on the next steps to take.  Only once you have seen the real value that a vCISO provides do you need to make a commitment to a monthly recurring payment.

At CyPro we have a team of highly experienced cyber security professionals who are ready to drive, govern and improve your cyber security capabilities.  Find out more about our vCISO capabilities here.

Rob McBride

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