What is a Virtual CISO?

Date: 21 April 2022

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What is a Virtual CISO? What is their job description and why does your business need one? 

The increasing risk of cyber-attacks coupled with compliance obligations has meant that even small and medium sized businesses are scouting for executive management to lead the charge in the critical field of cybersecurity. 

Given the general perennial unavailability of experienced and skilled staff coupled with the compounded problem of sourcing technically-aware and business focused executives, businesses are increasingly looking at leveraging the Virtual CISO (vCISO) resourcing model. 

This blog is aimed at all small and medium sized businesses, business owners, managers, executives and leadership teams and examines and explains: 

  1. What exactly is a Virtual CISO or vCISO?
  2. What are the roles and responsibilities of a Virtual CISO?
  3. The types of Virtual CISO Consulting services you can expect.
  4. The exact job description of a virtual CISO.
  5. What to expect when you opt for ‘CISO as a Service’.

Virtual CISO Meaning  

First let’s understand what exactly do we mean by a Virtual CISO.

A vCISO, Virtual CISO or a ‘CISO as a Service’ provider all largely refer to the same concept. The idea is that you get access to the highest quality of cybersecurity consultancy services, but virtually. The CISO isn’t available on your premises full-time but you have the opportunity to consult with them whenever required, on your terms. Obviously this arrangement is way more cost-effective than hiring a full-time CISO to protect your information assets.  

At Cyber Management Alliance, we define our Virtual CISO Service as a hands-on, full support access to highly experienced security and compliance professionals. 

The objective is to plug the personnel and skills gap that currently exists in the cybersecurity market. Either it is extremely difficult to find the right, highly skilled CISO for your business or it’s too expensive. 

With the Virtual CISO Service, clients not only get access to globally-recognised cybersecurity professionals, they also end up paying a fraction of the cost of hiring, training and retaining a full-time resource. 

Virtual CISO rates may be defined on an hourly or per project basis. This means that you’re basically paying for exactly the amount of work that you require. This option works out really well for businesses who need expert Cybersecurity Consulting Services but may not always have enough work for a full time CISO, either due to the size of their business or its nature and industry. 

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What does a Virtual CISO do? 

Now that we know the meaning of the buzzword ‘Virtual CISO’, let’s get an idea of what the Virtual CISO exactly does. 

While the Virtual CISO’s job description can vary basis the organisation they come from, at Cyber Management Alliance, our deeply experienced vCISOs assist clients with 10 main service domains as listed below: 

  1. Cybersecurity & Cyber Resilience
  2. Incident Response & Incident Management 
  3. Risk Assessment & Risk Management 
  4. Supply Chain 
  5. Certifications 
  6. Governance & Compliance 
  7. Technology Deployment 
  8. Data Security 
  9. Operations Security 
  10. Asset Management 

In the above service domains, some of the core activities that our Virtual CISOs take on as their primary roles and responsibilities include: 

  1. Review + Comment: The Virtual CISO reviews your existing cybersecurity artefacts (policies and documents) and shares their professional opinions on the same. 
  2. Review + Refresh: After reviewing your artefacts, the vCISO will help you realign the policies and procedures with your organisational requirements. 
  3. Create: Upon understanding the organisation context, defining risk and threats, the Virtual CISO works with you to create necessary documentation such as an incident response plan or a cybersecurity incident response playbook.     

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Advantages of Hiring a Virtual CISO 

Apart from the obvious benefits like increased protection from data breaches and building long-term cyber resilience, there are a lot of other advantages in hiring Cyber Management Alliance’s cybersecurity experts as virtual chief information security officers (CISO). Some of them include:  

  1. A trusted professional who helps you refresh, refine and recreate your cybersecurity policies and procedures after understanding your specific business objectives. Unlike traditional consultancies, we don’t follow a cookie-cutter approach to our client’s security programs. Further, as we aim to inculcate long-term relationships with our clients, we often end up being perceived as extension of their business.  

  2. With the vCISO Consulting Service, you can be assured of getting the most impartial and vendor agnostic advice on your technology investments and other security controls. 

  3. Our Virtual CISOs come with great interpersonal skills so they know how to handle different types of stakeholders and navigate the hierarchies and dynamics of your organisation. 

  4. One of the highlights of our Virtual CISO Service is that the resource assigned to your business will be backed by a whole team of risk, governance and compliance experts. This ensures that the varying requirements of your business - from the basic to the most complex - are handled seamlessly. As you might expect, this option is vastly preferred by our clients over hiring independent consultants. 

  5. Our Virtual CISOs help you make sure you’re prepared for any data breaches, ransomware attacks or other cybersecurity incidents which are so rampant these days. They assess your breach readiness or ransomware readiness and guide you on ways to boost your cyber resilience. 

  6. Very importantly, by opting for the Virtual ‘CISO as a Service’, you can prepare for various audits and assessments. Our Virtual CISO Service providers can help you get ready for certifications like the ISO 27001:2013, BCP 22301, UK’s Cyber Essentials, PCI-DSS and others. 

Several technology-savvy and forward-looking businesses have understood the benefits of hiring Virtual Cybersecurity Consultants over looking to recruit one highly qualified professional. Not only is the option of hiring a Virtual CISO cost-effective, it can also prove to be an easily accessible and more appropriate option for many organisations. 

If you’d like to know more about our Virtual CISO Consulting Services, what our Virtual CISOs can do for you and Virtual CISO rates, book a discovery call with us today. 

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