Businesses of every size seek ways to protect themselves against emerging cyber threats in increasingly complex IT environments. However, the lack of senior-level technology leadership in many organizations makes it difficult to align security strategies with business goals, which means neither objective is being met well.
To overcome this, many organizations are outsourcing their chief information security officer and chief information officer positions to experienced service providers that can help them bridge the gaps between security and the business.
What Do vCISOs and vCIOs Do?
Virtual chief information security officers (vCISOs) and virtual chief information officers (vCIOs) fill the same roles as their on-staff counterparts, but outsourcing these positions provides significant financial and operational benefits. You can:
- Reduce costs by only paying for the services you need.
- Gain access to the latest cutting-edge technologies.
- Add technical talent and specialized expertise to your team.
- Scale services as needed to meet business goals.
Although both the vCISO and the vCIO roles are focused on improving the performance and security of an organization’s technology and information systems, there are important differences between these two executive-level positions.
A vCISO supports the various information security functions, systems, and technologies that contribute to an organization’s cybersecurity posture.
The more strategic vCIO role provides technology leadership and guidance to the organization, which includes developing and executing its IT and cybersecurity strategies.
To maximize the impact of your business’s security strategy, it’s crucial to make sure the vCISO implements solutions that are congruent not only with your technology, but also with your organizational goals and objectives.
Keep reading to find out how to partner with a vCISO and vCIO services provider that understands your business and risks so they can keep your security needs and business goals in alignment.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Virtual CISO or Virtual CIO Provider
When you outsource CISO and CIO responsibilities, you are essentially handing over the keys to your company’s most sensitive assets, so it’s important to partner with a vCISO/vCIO service provider you can count on to prioritize your business’s success.
Let’s look at what experienced vCISOs and vCIOs should bring to the table and what red flags to watch for that signal a provider isn’t a good fit.
Here are the capabilities to look for in a vCISO:
- Deep understanding of your organization’s specific information security architecture and any dependencies.
- Ability to work cross-departmentally to implement and enforce information security protocols that maintain and improve the company’s security posture.
- Committed to delivering an exceptional customer experience while also protecting customer data.
- Current on cybersecurity and data privacy legislation and comfortable working closely with legal counsel.
- Has a plan to ensure security objectives will mitigate current risks and a strategy to pivot to address evolving threats.
- Deep understanding of your industry’s specific compliance requirements.
Here are the capabilities to look for in a vCIO:
- Strong IT background with significant implementation experience.
- Ability to work cross-functionally with different personalities, business applications, and systems.
- Deep understanding of your business and how information technology and security impact costs and revenue.
- Knowledge of data protection and threat mitigation best practices.
- Broad skill set, including strong business, IT, project management, and communication skills.
- Proven technology background, preferably with experience working as an IT manager, network administrator, systems engineer, or IT consultant.
Here are warning signs to watch for in a vCISO:
- Lacks experience establishing security controls, enforcing security policies, and using metrics and reporting to demonstrate program effectiveness.
- Doesn’t take the initiative to stay up to date on new and emerging security threats.
- Wants to implement a firewall and antivirus software rather than build a comprehensive security architecture.
- Doesn’t understand how security controls impact business risk.
Here are warning signs to watch for in a vCIO:
- Possesses little to no understanding of your specific security challenges and their potential impact on business goals.
- Lacks the ability to create and implement a comprehensive IT strategy.
- Demonstrates poor communication and collaboration skills.
- Increases business risk by not prioritizing security and compliance.
Tips to Evaluate Expertise, Experience, and Credentials in a Potential vCISO or vCIO
When evaluating potential vCISO/vCIO service providers, due diligence is critical. There’s no shortage of providers claiming to be the best in the industry, but a reputable service provider will be excited to back up their claims with evidence, including certifications, case studies, and client testimonials.
Industry-specific and security-focused certifications indicate that the vCISO/vCIO service provider is committed to ensuring they have the expertise needed to keep your business running securely and at peak operational performance.
Case studies are a great way to see how working with the vCISO or vCIO has helped businesses similar to yours successfully implement an information security strategy and align that strategy with their business goals.
Look beyond the service provider’s website to see what customers are saying “in the wild.” This will help you get an unbiased perspective of what it is like to work with a particular vCISO/vCIO and whether the results are worth the investment.
Secure Success with the Right vCISO or vCIO Provider
Choosing the right vCISO or vCIO provider is an important decision. But when you know what to look for and how to evaluate potential service providers, you can feel confident that you are making a well-informed choice for your business.
Want to improve your security posture by finding and fixing vulnerabilities before they become breaches? Let Logically’s cybersecurity specialists review your security policies, scan your network for vulnerabilities, and identify weak points that can give hackers an “in.”
Schedule your security assessment today!