As today’s threat landscape continues to feature more sophisticated, well-funded, highly organized and increasingly complex cyber adversaries, defense and remediation strategies have become much more challenging. Protecting an enterprise and preparing for current and future threats requires a great deal of expertise, planning and timely and targeted actions.
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Regardless of company size or industry, nearly every organization benefits from having a CISO who can establish comprehensive, risk-based security strategies and processes that protect critical data and systems while keeping business moving forward.
However, adding a CISO may be cost-prohibitive for many companies. It can also be difficult to attract and retain individuals with the level of security and business expertise necessary to fill the role. Instead, many organizations lean on managers to incorporate security into existing IT processes, which often results in fragmented policies and challenges with support and adoption that leave systems vulnerable.
As an alternative, virtual CISOs are becoming a viable option for many companies that do not have a full-time CISO on staff. Virtual CISOs are security experts for flexible hire, ready to assess and manage the many challenges posed by the need to balance security and business continuity.
Because more IT and business leaders recognize the need to create more senior security leadership roles, like a CISO, yet are challenged to do so by one of the many barriers to hiring said role, the virtual CISO approach has gained traction. This solution often delivers both economic and strategic advantages to businesses, and it’s important to better understand the benefits and considerations of a virtual CISO.
Is hiring a virtual CISO the right choice for you?
Here are five signs that a virtual CISO may be right for your organization.
1. You have a lot to protect
Companies produce more data than ever, and keeping track of it all is the first step to securing it. A virtual CISO can identify what data needs to be protected and determine the negative impact that compromised data can have, whether that impact is regulatory, financial or reputational.
2. Your organization is complex
Risk increases with employee count, but there are many additional factors that contribute to an organization’s complexity: the number of departments, offices and geographies; how data is used and shared; the distribution of architecture; and the life cycle of applications, data and the technology stack.
A virtual CISO offers an unbiased, objective view, and can sort out the complexity of a company’s IT architecture, applications and services. They can also determine how plans for the future add complexity, identify and account for the corresponding risk, and recommend security measures that will scale to support future demand.
3. Your attack surface is broad
For many organizations, potential vulnerabilities, especially those that share a great deal of data within the organization, may not be obvious at first glance. Virtual CISOs can identify both internal and external threats, determine their probability and quantify the impact they could have on your organization. And at a more granular level, they can determine if those same threats are applicable to competitors, which can help maintain competitiveness within your market.
4. Your industry is highly regulated
Organizations in regulated industries like healthcare, finance, energy/power and insurance will have data that is more valuable, which could make them a bigger target for bad actors. Exposure is even more of a concern due to potential noncompliance. Virtual CISOs bring a wealth of expertise on regulatory standards. They can implement processes to maintain compliance and offer recommendations based on updates to applicable rules and regulations.
5. Your risk tolerance is low
An organization without a great deal of sensitive data may have a much greater tolerance for risk than a healthcare provider or a bank, but an honest assessment is important in determining how much risk each organization should accept. A virtual CISO can coordinate efforts to examine perceived and actual risk, identify critical vulnerabilities and provide a better picture of risk exposure that can inform future decisions.
Cybersecurity is growing more complex, and organizations of all sizes, especially those in regulated industries, require a proven security specialist who can address the aforementioned challenges and ensure that technology and processes are in place to mitigate security risks.
As the digital transformation we’ve come to embrace continues its reach into new and different corners of business, this truth applies to organizations of all sizes — even those without the financial resources to bring a full-time CISO on staff. For these organizations, a virtual CISO represents a viable option to maintain the security posture necessary to succeed while keeping a mindful eye on ever-increasing budgetary concerns.
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- ISO 27001 Lead Implementer
- ISO 27001 Foundation
- ISO 27001 Lead Auditor
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Certified Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO)
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
Principal, Ken Jenkins (2020). Five signs a virtual CISO makes sense for your organization. Recovered on 8 June 2020 from https://www.helpnetsecurity.com/2020/06/08/virtual-ciso/