About Virtual CISO (vCISO)

Virtual CISO (vCISO), an Outsourced Security Lead

A virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO) is an outsourced security expert who can set up and lead strategic security initiatives at an organization. Organizations can use either a full time, in-house CISO, or a vCISO to manage their team and lead the development of an effective security program. The difference between the roles is that an in-house CISO and a true vCISO can't design and implement an entire information security program alone, but a vCISO with additional outsourced resources can. Check out the steps you should take to selecting a virtual CISO:

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Where Does a vCISO Fit in Your Security Program?

The term "vCISO" is commonly used to describe all the outsourced functions of a security program, but this can be misleading.

Generally, a CISO is only meant to lead the information security program in an organization. CISOs can also be called the manager, deputy director, director or vice president of information security. A true virtual CISO (vCISO) is only an outsourced CISO function, not the rest of your security program.

Your security program is a combination of policies, standards, processes, and security technologies. A successful program will also need other specific roles or people to perform those processes and configure the security technology, to align to those standards and meet the policies. Even if your organization is small, there's a good chance you'll need more than just a CISO to run security in your organization. A standalone CISO can't be the only one implementing and maintaining a repeatable program — it's unreasonable to think that one person can build a security program's different processes and run all of them at the same time.

So, in order to develop a repeatable security program, a virtual CISO can be a great option. The use of a virtual CISO can be a great option in that they often have more access to the additional resources that are generally required to meet all program requirements.

Hiring a vCISO from a managed security organization with the additional resources can help you build or strengthen your security program in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Virtual CISO Benefits

Outsourcing your information security program can be a valuable option if you need immediate access to security expertise.

  • A vCISO that comes with the resources to develop a comprehensive security program is especially beneficial for an organization without increasing their employee headcount.
  • A good vCISO will come with experience and expertise, as well as established relationships from security vendors to industry leaders that will help them establish the program you need.
  • A vCISO can often be put in place with an understanding of the environment with more ease than hiring and onboarding a full-time resource.