Should Your Business Consider a Virtual CISO?

By   Zac Amos
Features Editor , ReHack | Dec 19, 2022 10:42 pm PST

Security is one of the most important aspects of any business. You must protect it and ensure that your data and systems are safe from hackers and malware. However, not all companies have in-house security experts or CISOs (Chief Information Security Officers).

This leaves many companies open to attack regarding cybersecurity. Therefore, it could be worthwhile to consider hiring a virtual CISO.

The Role of the CISO

Businesses have various security challenges — from ransomware attacks and phishing to internal threats. A cyberattack can occur at any time and cost a company millions of dollars. For example, Marriott International experienced a data breach in 2018, costing the hotel chain USD 28 million and 500 million guest accounts.

CISOs ensure your company’s information is secure. In order to do so, they need to have deep technical knowledge and be able to interact with all levels of staff in the organization.

Additionally, they must ask questions and advise on how best to protect your sensitive data and infrastructure. At the same time, they need to keep up with trends in technology to offer recommendations on new product or service investments.

Why Hire a Virtual CISO?

As a business owner, you may wonder why you would want to work with a virtual CISO. Here are some of the benefits.

Reduces the Price of Hiring a Full-Time CISO

Full-time CISOs are expensive and may be outside your budget, as their average salary ranges from USD 208k to USD 337k each year. Hiring a virtual CISO would save you money, as they’re not paid an annual salary and will work at reasonable rates. Plus, they often complete projects faster and more efficiently than their onsite counterparts.

Saves Time In Hiring a Full-Time CISO

While there are plenty of excellent full-time CISOs, the good ones are notoriously difficult to find. This means you may be spending months before finding the perfect candidate. However, you can dodge this problem by hiring an experienced virtual CISO since they’re already qualified for the job and can start working immediately.

Lessens the Need to Relocate a New Employee

Even if you’ve found a candidate halfway across the country or the world and they’re willing to relocate, this can result in significant stress for employees and their families. Unfortunately, the move can also create unnecessary costs for companies during employee onboarding. Rather than relocating a new hire, you can hire a virtual CISO from anywhere in the world.

The Drawbacks of a Virtual CISO

Virtual CISOs provide a ton of value for your business. However, there are some disadvantages that you must consider.

  •  They don’t truly replace an in-house cybersecurity expert.
  • Virtual CISOs tend to focus on highly strategic tasks but need more deep technical knowledge for hands-on support.
  • Some are known for relying on templates or one-size-fits-all approaches for clients.
  • Not all virtual CISOs have the experience required to meet expectations.
  • There is a lack of human interaction and they may not understand your business’s unique challenges fully.

When Should Businesses Consider a Virtual CISO?

You may wonder when it is the right time to consider hiring a virtual CISO. Here are some factors that may influence your decision.

  • Suppose you’re a small business with limited resources or have a small team. Rather than hiring full-time, you can hire a virtual CISO on an as-needed basis. They typically do contract-based work and are available when you need one.
  • You’re seeking an advisory role only. Assuming your company doesn’t need regular hands-on assistance with security but would like help with strategy development on specific projects, a virtual CISO could be helpful as they provide support based on their expertise.
  • Your company is in emerging markets where there are few cybersecurity professionals available locally. Therefore, it may make sense to work with a global firm.

Working With a Virtual CISO Can Make All the Difference

Now that you’ve had a closer look at some of the pros and cons of hiring a virtual CISO, you should be able to make an informed decision. A virtual CISO may make sense for your company, especially if it’s not within your budget to hire a full-time, in-house cybersecurity expert. Hopefully, you now know how working with a virtual CISO can benefit you and why they’re becoming popular among various industries.

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