Why a Virtual CISO is the Best-Kept Secret in Information Security

by Brad Garland

The twin gas pedals of globalization and technology have increased the speed of business to the point where you can blink and suddenly not recognize the landscape around you. This is especially true when it comes to information security, where the very concept of “hacking” and data theft went from Hollywood science fiction to a pressing fact of life in under a decade.

Like many businesses, you may question whether you’re properly prepared in the information security realm, even if you’ve created a titular Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). But titles alone aren’t enough, especially when an effective CISO is required to wear so many different

From disaster recovery to security reporting, vendor management and more, you should be able to rely on a CISO who can fit every hat he or she needs to. Most surprisingly of all, an effective CISO may not even need to work in your actual office. Here’s why.


The Growing Popularity of the Virtual CISO

With every month, an increasing number of businesses are turning to the use of a Virtual Chief Information Security Officer to meet their data security needs. While the reasons can vary from business to business and across industries, the growing complexity of CISO responsibilities is usually near the top of the list.

As cybersecurity threats increase in both number and creativity, a knowledge gap has arisen in the information security industry. Where just a few short years ago a CISO was chiefly concerned with relatively simple matters, like ensuring an office was covered by adequate antivirus programs and network firewalls, the modern information security landscape is much more complex. 

“Sneaky” tactics involving factors like social engineering, corporate espionage and even state-sponsored database intrusions have become the norm. And unlike the “good old days” of cybersecurity, these more complex tactics require an equally complex response and an equally complex skillset.

Ensuring compliance in this new world requires the right level of expertise, something that many small- and medium-sized businesses simply don’t have the resources to cultivate and maintain. Indeed, the complexity of a CISO’s responsibilities can often outstrip the basic budgetary requirements of a smaller business. You may find yourself in a catch-22, where you do still require a CISO with a deep well of knowledge but don’t require the sort of full-time position that would justify that degree of education and skill.

Digital Safety and the CISO

When it comes to inadequate use of a CISO’s skillsets, small- and medium-sized businesses aren’t alone. Even such corporate behemoths as the international retailer Target have struggled to keep their technological houses in order. Indeed, following its headline-making data breach in 2014, Target revealed that it didn’t have a CISO at all during that period.

person-woman-hand-smartphone.jpgThat fact is key, since the very act of having a CISO is a sign that your organization places the highest priority on its information security and exhibits the highest confidence in its security practices. Beyond the concrete ways in which a CISO improves your business operations, the CISO also improves your “culture of security,” yielding the kind of outsized effect that can have an impact on everything from client retention to overall profitability.


How a Virtual CISO Can Help

A Virtual CISO is uniquely suited to help fill in the security gaps in your organizational chart and does so without the heightened cost of a full-time and salaried CISO. This is an especially good fit for smaller businesses, who simply don’t require the most extensive types of security operations that the largest enterprises employ.

Consider just a few of the tasks that a Virtual CISO can fulfill for your organization:
  • Policy
    • A Virtual CISO can ensure your organization maintains a thorough and well-defined portfolio of security policies and Disaster Recovery, and updates those policies as your technology & strategic plans inevitability changes.
  • Guidelines
    • With the help of a Virtual CISO, your organization could need help developing a wide range of guidelines related to data security, use of information systems, and even personnel rules governing who should have access to what data and when.
  • Standards and Compliance
    • As regulatory agencies move continuously to address new developments in the cybersecurity arena, the regulations for information security can change significantly from year to year, and even month to month. A Virtual CISO helps ensure your organization is always up to date and always stays compliant with the latest requirements.
  • Reporting
    • As part and parcel of compliance efforts, your organization will increasingly be expected to report regularly on its practices for the management and mitigation of key information security concerns like GLBA or Vendor Management. With a Virtual CISO, you can work to guarantee that your reporting efforts are always thorough, compliant and reliable.


The Future of Information Security

Whether you need leadership to come to grips with new HIPAA or PCI compliance factors, want to stay on top of vendor risk assessments, or simply need to rest assured that your networks stay safe and secured, a Virtual CISO can help.

Virtual CISOs offer an arrangement so flexible that you can even engage one on a temporary basis, whether to fill a momentary personnel gap or simply to conduct a “snapshot audit” of your organization’s security health.

Contact us today to learn more about how a Virtual CISO can become a compelling and indispensable resource for your organization.
Info Security Cheat Sheet