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 can't design and implement an entire information security program alone. Before we go further into what a vCISO is, let's review what an effective security program looks like and what role a vCISO plays.

Security Program Led by a vCISO

In most organizations, the information security program will be led by the in-house CISO or a virtual CISO. This title can also be called the manager, deputy director, director or vice president of information security.

A 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.

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

Does Your Organization Need a vCISO?

Finding a vCISO for your organization might be a good option if you're having a hard time bringing on an in-house security leader or are struggling to establish your security program without a leader and the roles to perform the necessary processes.

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.