Understanding Cost Factors Behind vCISO and CISO-as-a-Service

Written by CISOSHARE

March 25, 2021

25 min read

Detecting threats, reducing vulnerabilities, and quickly reacting to breaches are the core fundamentals of any cybersecurity mission, and as technical innovation rises exponentially, so too will the associated risks for an organization of any size. A trusted resource in place to help you meet your information security challenges can be a lifeline in today’s rapidly changing threat landscape, but the required investment for a sound cyber security structure may unfortunately be unattainable.    

For mid to large-sized businesses, starting empty-handed is not an option as protection and incident prevention is more critical across all levels of the organization. However, choosing between the wide range of processes, procedures, and tools to strengthen security initiatives is often a frustrating task, especially when met with budget constraints. 

If justifying a full-time Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) proves difficult, leveraging a CISO-as-a-Service model offers an affordable and flexible option to help you achieve your security program goals. Understanding the cost factors of this simple, integrated solution is key.   

For organizations struggling with the realities of cost, the assets needed to effectively build, implement, and manage a strategic security plan present many obstacles. High salaries and turnover, a lack of available talent, combined with the need to train and retain, are only a few reasons why a full-time CISO may not be a good cost fit.

An alternative security program utilizing CISO-as-a-Service, often in conjunction with the broad expertise of a Virtual CISO (vCISO), is an outsourced solution providing complete resources and leadership. This fractional CISO-level security approach means you only pay for the cyber security service you need, and it’s able to scale up or down as business needs change. For organizations needing executive leadership on an interim basis, or to augment existing in-house security, the CISO-as-a-Service model can help fill any gaps in existing resources while saving money.

Reducing risk and protecting critical data can now be obtained at a fraction of any related direct-hire costs. An in-house CISO or single vCISO can’t design and implement an entire information security program alone, but when combined with CISO-as-a-Service, increasing threats and new compliance requirements can be met. So, what does CISO-as-a-Service cost for outsourcing for a fixed fee? Having an understanding of your organization’s current state and specific needs is crucial.

Learn More About how CISO-as-a-Service Can Shorten Your Sales Cycle

How does the current state of a security program impact cost? 

  • Identifying any gaps, risks and vulnerabilities via a security program assessment is the first step. 
  • If problem areas are identified and programs areas need to be built, or if new security initiatives are requested, CISO-as-a-service and Virtual CISO costs will increase. 
  • If an existing program is mature, vCISO or CISO-as-a-Service can help maintain and execute it. 
  • The number of roles needed to execute security program activities directly impacts cost. 
  • A larger security program in scope or scale requires more outsourced resources and will increase cost both vCISO and CISO-as-a-Service pricing. 

Given that proven CISOs are rare, highly sought after, and expensive, perhaps the biggest factor when opting for the leadership of CISO-level managed services is the cost of hiring a single C-level professional. 

With an average salary between $160K and $280K before factoring in benefits and other overhead, the investment is often cost prohibitive. For comparison, CISO-as-a-Service and vCISO pricing typically ranges between $25K and $200K, depending on scope, current state, and other needs. In addition, the cost for outsourced security programs tend to decrease over time as they mature and the focus shifts to maintenance.  

Here’s the bottom line: if you need immediate access to security expertise, outsourcing your information security program can be a valuable option. There’s a lot that goes into protecting data and ensuring the integrity of it should be within reach no matter the size of the organization. 

A successful cybersecurity program is more than a one-person show, and without a dedicated CISO, engaging a vCISO or CISO-as-a-Service provides cost-effective leadership at a fraction of the investment.  

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