Fractional CISO

Do You Need a Fractional CISO?

Written by CISOSHARE

March 5, 2021

25 min read

In response to a continuous rise in breaches and incidents, the pressure is on for organizations to build and maintain more mature and effective cyber security programs while placing accountable security leaders. But where does a business start?

Virtual CISO, CISO-as-a-Service, fractional CISOs — all of these services sound like they cover the same needs, so what’s the difference between each of these? When does an organization need to start exploring these options for their own needs?

This article goes through each of these services, what makes them different, and how they integrate into a business so your organization can decide whether a virtual CISO, CISO-as-a-Service, or fractional CISO meets your needs.

What’s the Difference Between Fractional CISO, virtual CISO (vCISO), and CISO-as-a-Service?

The terms fractional CISO, vCISO, and CISO-as-a-Service can be used interchangeably — each service provides cyber security expertise, direction, and support to an organization’s growth and business goals. While for some service providers each of these may mean the same thing, it’s worth noting the potential differences that may exist out in the marketplace.

The primary distinctions for each of these terms often has to do with the number of resources and the way they integrate with your organization or security team.

A fractional CISO is often the title assigned to a part time cyber security expert that works onsite within an organization’s team.

Fractional CISOs are often a single person who manages miscellaneous cyber security-related tasks within an organization, often splitting time with other duties they have within the organization.

A virtual CISO (or vCISO) is an outsourced security expert who can remotely set up and lead strategic security initiatives for an organization. vCISOs often work for multiple organizations at once to provide strategic security leadership.

vCISOs can also be a single resource who assists in high-level, strategic security program initiatives, communicating about the program’s needs, projects, and progress with organizational stakeholders and leadership.

A CISO-as-a-Service is a solution that provides a complete security program team that an organization needs to effectively build, implement, and manage their cyber security program.

CISO-as-a-Service is an outsourced solution that typically includes a vCISO to act as a security leader for an organization alongside the support of a complete team to understand, manage, and execute tasks within each security program area. All this while still retaining the timing and cost advantages of avoiding an executive hire.

Whether a service provider names their service a fractional CISO, vCISO, or CISO-as-a-Service doesn’t matter so much as the ability of that service to scale with your organization’s needs. At CISOSHARE these are all one and the same—a full-service security leader solution available to you at a fraction of the cost.

Learn about our vCISO services and how it can shorten your sales cycle.

When Do You Need a Fractional CISO?

Organizations often seek fractional CISO or CISO-as-a-Service when they need to build or improve their security posture.

Common use cases for fractional CISO services include:

  • A lack of internal security expertise and resources, causing everyone to get bogged down with cyber security requests that need additional support.
  • Clients and partners are sending more security questionnaires, and cyber security questions come up often throughout the sales pipeline.
  • You need to respond to specific requests and remediation activities to meet regulatory requirements or industry standards.
  • The organization’s security leader has departed. There’s no one to take over, or it will take too much time and money to find, interview, hire, and onboard new executive.

If any of these sound like challenges your organization is facing, a fractional CISO approach like our CISO-as-a-Service is a good, cost-effective solution. It provides cyber security value at a fraction of the cost of hiring a dedicated security leader and additional security resources in house.

Fitting a Fractional CISO into Your Security Program

A successful cyber security program is more than a one-person show. Cyber security programs need a combination of policies and processes, as well as the resources to perform those processes and maintain any associated technology to align and set standards to meet the program’s policies.

Even if it seems like the scope of your security program is small, your organization will very likely need additional security resources and leadership to maintain oversight and keep up with both any regularly occurring security projects and ad hoc security tasks.
We all know that security touches every aspect of a business, but it shouldn’t become a burden on your existing team.

A complete CISO-as-a-Service or fractional CISO provides not only the security leadership, but a full team of experienced security resources to take on the task of building, implementing, and maintaining the regular activities of a cyber security program.

When a business wanted to meet client requests...

Our vCISO program helped them grow without adding resources to their payroll.