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Does your organization need a virtual CISO?

Cybersecurity has become a core concern in recent years for any organization that deals with sensitive information. With large-scale cyber attacks in the news practically every month, more and more companies have determined that they require the services of a highly experienced security expert–the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). These are folks with enterprise-level experience who, as officers of the company, make certain that security is embedded in the organization’s mission and day-to-day operations.

As demand for CISO services has exploded and CISOs have become more valuable, they’ve become very expensive to hire. As a result, many organizations choose to work with a security company that employs what is known as a virtual Chief Information Security Officer, or vCISO. If you are wondering whether or when to hire a virtual CISO, here are a number of good reasons to choose that route.

Inviting a vCISO into your C-suite allows you to leverage the expertise that person has developed over a career as a security expert. In many cases, the vCISO will work with your existing security team, either in a scheduled part-time arrangement or on an on-demand basis. While technically employed by the technology management or security firm, they might report to your CEO, CIO or board of directors. Some companies will only need a vCISO’s services for four or five hours a month, while others might require a part-time position. This might entail a monthly or annual contract.

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It is the nature of a vCISO to take absolute personal responsibility for your organization’s cybersecurity. This usually means putting in place a comprehensive set of policies, procedures, technologies, and controls.

In many circumstances, working with a vCISO under a Professional Services agreement can be smarter and safer than incurring the much greater expense associated with building an in-house security team. Because they work for many organizations in a variety of industries, a vCISO probably has more experience than his or her colleagues working full time for one company. Most individuals rarely have to deal with a critical security breach, whereas a vCISO might handle an incident response situation once a week.

Because the vCISO position has been virtual since the job title was first coined, they are adept at working with clients all around the country. That means when you look to hire for a vCISO position you’re not limited to local candidates.

Your vCISO often serves as compliance officer when it comes to dealing with regulators. They also can be responsible for creating quarterly or annual reports for regulatory agencies and boards of directors. Because a person with CISO training and credentials is recognized as an expert in the security field, these reports have extra weight and, frankly, more credibility.

There’s another thing I’d invite you to keep in mind when deciding whom to entrust with your organization’s cybersecurity: the best vCISOs work for a company that is staffed by a team of cybersecurity experts. Your contract will be with that company, and you should have virtual access to all of its resources, including up-to-date security technologies and an experienced Incident Response Team.

I hope you found this information helpful. As always, contact us anytime about your technology needs.

Until next time,


Meet the Author
Tim Burke is the President and CEO of Quest. He has been at the helm for over 30 years.
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