[BreachExchange] Five signs a virtual CISO makes sense for your organization

Destry Winant destry at riskbasedsecurity.com
Wed Jun 10 10:26:35 EDT 2020


As today’s threat landscape continues to feature more sophisticated,
well-funded, highly organized and increasingly complex cyber
adversaries, defense and remediation strategies have become much more
challenging. Protecting an enterprise and preparing for current and
future threats requires a great deal of expertise, planning and timely
and targeted actions.

Regardless of company size or industry, nearly every organization
benefits from having a CISO who can establish comprehensive,
risk-based security strategies and processes that protect critical
data and systems while keeping business moving forward.

However, adding a CISO may be cost-prohibitive for many companies. It
can also be difficult to attract and retain individuals with the level
of security and business expertise necessary to fill the role.
Instead, many organizations lean on managers to incorporate security
into existing IT processes, which often results in fragmented policies
and challenges with support and adoption that leave systems

As an alternative, virtual CISOs are becoming a viable option for many
companies that do not have a full-time CISO on staff. Virtual CISOs
are security experts for flexible hire, ready to assess and manage the
many challenges posed by the need to balance security and business

Because more IT and business leaders recognize the need to create more
senior security leadership roles, like a CISO, yet are challenged to
do so by one of the many barriers to hiring said role, the virtual
CISO approach has gained traction. This solution often delivers both
economic and strategic advantages to businesses, and it’s important to
better understand the benefits and considerations of a virtual CISO.

Is hiring a virtual CISO the right choice for you?

Here are five signs that a virtual CISO may be right for your organization.

1. You have a lot to protect

Companies produce more data than ever, and keeping track of it all is
the first step to securing it. A virtual CISO can identify what data
needs to be protected and determine the negative impact that
compromised data can have, whether that impact is regulatory,
financial or reputational.

2. Your organization is complex

Risk increases with employee count, but there are many additional
factors that contribute to an organization’s complexity: the number of
departments, offices and geographies; how data is used and shared; the
distribution of architecture; and the life cycle of applications, data
and the technology stack.

A virtual CISO offers an unbiased, objective view, and can sort out
the complexity of a company’s IT architecture, applications and
services. They can also determine how plans for the future add
complexity, identify and account for the corresponding risk, and
recommend security measures that will scale to support future demand.

3. Your attack surface is broad

For many organizations, potential vulnerabilities, especially those
that share a great deal of data within the organization, may not be
obvious at first glance. Virtual CISOs can identify both internal and
external threats, determine their probability and quantify the impact
they could have on your organization. And at a more granular level,
they can determine if those same threats are applicable to
competitors, which can help maintain competitiveness within your

4. Your industry is highly regulated

Organizations in regulated industries like healthcare, finance,
energy/power and insurance will have data that is more valuable, which
could make them a bigger target for bad actors. Exposure is even more
of a concern due to potential noncompliance. Virtual CISOs bring a
wealth of expertise on regulatory standards. They can implement
processes to maintain compliance and offer recommendations based on
updates to applicable rules and regulations.

5. Your risk tolerance is low

An organization without a great deal of sensitive data may have a much
greater tolerance for risk than a healthcare provider or a bank, but
an honest assessment is important in determining how much risk each
organization should accept. A virtual CISO can coordinate efforts to
examine perceived and actual risk, identify critical vulnerabilities
and provide a better picture of risk exposure that can inform future

Cybersecurity is growing more complex, and organizations of all sizes,
especially those in regulated industries, require a proven security
specialist who can address the aforementioned challenges and ensure
that technology and processes are in place to mitigate security risks.

As the digital transformation we’ve come to embrace continues its
reach into new and different corners of business, this truth applies
to organizations of all sizes — even those without the financial
resources to bring a full-time CISO on staff. For these organizations,
a virtual CISO represents a viable option to maintain the security
posture necessary to succeed while keeping a mindful eye on
ever-increasing budgetary concerns.

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