Affordable Expertise: Leveraging Virtual Chief Information Security Officers

Written by prodigitalweb

A strong executive team makes all the difference in the profitability and coherency of an organization, but good leaders are difficult to find. These critical employees command high salaries due to their years of experience, and they are in short supply, particularly for nonprofits and small businesses that cannot afford their asking price. As such, businesses find them compromising on those positions that are incorrectly seen as less important, often to their peril.

One of these positions, Chief Information Security Officer, has become ever more essential in recent years. The average data breach in the US costs a company well over $9 million; this comes from remediation costs, fines and legal fees for lawsuits, ransom demands, downtime, and reputational damage. Having a powerful security infrastructure overseen by an experienced professional can greatly diminish the risk of a data breach, but many companies cannot afford this in addition to their other key decision-makers, which is why they turn to cybersecurity consulting services.

The Role of a vCISO

Chief Information Security Officer’s key role is to develop, implement, and enforce good cybersecurity practices throughout your organization. Of key interest to a CISO is identifying and countering risks, as well as ensuring compliance with government and industry standards. The outsourced counterpart, vCISO, does this as well, but at a much more affordable price. Given that CISOs can command seven-figure salaries at the highest level, in-house solutions can often be out of reach of the average business.

A vCISO is meant to complement your existing IT team rather than replace it; this Chief Information Security Officer will help to orchestrate a strategy in conjunction with your current employees, as well as assist with training and mentoring employees to ensure compliance.

This strategy can include data governance, threat assessments, vendor risk analysis, and incident response. In short, the CISO guides your overall data security plan, which is then undertaken in coordination with your in-house staff.

Benefits of a vCISO

Most important to most companies is the fact that these consultants are much more affordable than having your own full-time infosec officer, and this is typically the reason why small to midsized businesses choose to outsource. However, there are other benefits as well.

One of these is that you will benefit from the experience and resources that a vCISO has. These consultants typically work with a large team of other professionals and will have streamlined processes, including training materials, that they can utilize. With established protocols in place for assessing risks and developing strategy, you and your team won’t have to flounder while creating everything from the ground up. The team will also have the knowledge necessary to tailor ready-made solutions to your exact needs.

The other main reason that small companies prefer to work with vCISOs is that they don’t just manage everything for you: they help to build up your own capabilities so that your entire system works better. All of your IT professionals will benefit by learning from an old hand at the cybersecurity game, and mentorship is a key element of the process. If you are missing key elements of a robust in-house team, they can utilize their deep networks in the field to help you find top talent to fill these roles, while also ensuring everyone is on the same page in regard to your security strategy.

Finding a Quality vCISO

Now that you understand the criticality of a CISO and how a vCISO allows you access to this knowledge at a more reasonable price, it’s time to consider how to find a virtual cybersecurity consultant that meets your needs.

Firstly, the reputation of the firm itself matters greatly. Do they have a well-established reputation for quality in the industry, and is their roster of experts mostly stable? Having a revolving door of consultants can indicate a struggling company, and it also puts you at greater risk of errors in your cybersecurity strategy when handovers are not done properly.

Next, you must think about whether they are familiar with your industry. Most industries have their own regulatory standards with which companies must comply, and this is especially true for companies that work with sensitive data, such as healthcare records, bank accounts, and government documents. You need to be familiar with what standards you’re held to, then seek a vCISO who has expertise in these standards so that they will be able to properly advise you.

Lastly are the soft skills important for an executive. Any consultant must have excellent communication skills, and this is especially true for one who will be working to implement large-scale solutions along with your in-house team. They must have a collaborative mindset that allows them to take your unique needs into consideration rather than simply choosing cookie-cutter options that may not work.

Should you find a consultant with all of these qualities, you will be well-equipped to develop a robust cybersecurity policy that will last.

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