Traditionally, chief information security officers (CISOs) managed an organization’s information security, while the chief information officer (CIO) managed the business’s technical innovation and implementation.
However, in today’s heightened threat landscape, there is a need for alignment between these two roles to ensure the organization has comprehensive cybersecurity and compliance strategies.
For small and midsize businesses (SMBs), hiring two full-time executive-level positions can be cost-prohibitive. As a result, many SMBs are outsourcing their CISO and CIO positions to managed services providers.
In this blog post, we will look at what is driving demand for virtual CISOs (vCISOs) and virtual CIOs (vCIOs) and the financial, operational, and strategic benefits that outsourcing these roles brings to organizations.
What Do vCISOs and vCIOs Do?
vCISO and vCIO are both senior-level technology positions, but they play very different roles.
A vCISO is responsible for the various technology tasks needed to enhance and fortify an organization’s cybersecurity posture. In many organizations, these responsibilities include:
- Cybersecurity strategy
- Risk assessment
- Security policy and governance
- Security awareness
- Incident response
- Vendor assessment
- Security architecture
- Compliance and regulations
- Security monitoring
- Security audits and assessments
A vCIO takes on a less hands-on and more strategic role by providing technology leadership and guidance to the C-suite and across the organization. vCIO responsibilities often include:
- Technology strategy
- Budgeting and planning
- Vendor management
- Security and compliance
- Risk management
- Alignment with business goals
- Cybersecurity incident response
- Disaster recovery and business continuity
- IT policies and procedures
- IT governance
The Benefits of Outsourcing vCISO and vCIO Services
Although every organization has specific security and technology needs, many organizations partner with a vCISO/vCIO service provider for very similar reasons:
- Cost savings: Working with a service provider eliminates the ongoing salary, benefits, and overhead costs of hiring a full-time CISO/CIO.
- Scalability: On-demand vCISO and vCIO service levels can be scaled to meet the current needs of your organization.
- Staff augmentation: Outsourcing CISO and CIO services allows you to select a subject matter expert or skill set for a specific project.
- Leadership: Experienced vCIOs can work at the executive level to provide direction on implementing a comprehensive security and compliance strategy.
- Security awareness: A vCISO can help prioritize security practices within the organization by delivering security awareness training and enforcing security and compliance policies.
Why vCISOs and vCIOs Are in High Demand
At a high level, rising demand for virtual versions of CISOs and CIOs can be attributed to three main factors: cyber threats that are harder to detect and deter, a shortage of skilled cybersecurity and technology talent, and shrinking IT budgets.
Drilling down a bit deeper, these are a few of the specific challenges that vCISOs and vCIOs can help organizations overcome.
Rapidly Evolving Technology
Technology changes in the blink of an eye, and most SMBs don’t have the resources to keep their organizations up-to-date and secure. vCISOs and vCIOs provide extensive expertise in new and emerging technologies, helping businesses remain competitive and maintain their security posture.
The meteoric rise of remote workplaces and distributed teams has increased the complexity of IT infrastructure and added security risks. vCISOs and vCIOs help organizations navigate the challenges of managing technology and security, no matter where employees are located.
Increased Threat of Data Breaches and Cyber Attacks
With the widespread availability of AI technology, cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated and prevalent. vCISOs play a crucial role in developing and implementing cybersecurity strategies that defend against data breaches and cyberattacks, which can have significant financial, legal, and reputational consequences.
Changing Compliance Landscape
Worldwide data privacy and protection regulations are constantly changing, and new ones are being introduced. vCISOs and vCIOs both play a role in ensuring compliance with these regulations, helping organizations avoid expensive compliance penalties and legal issues.
Lack of Skilled Technology Professionals
There is a global shortage of skilled IT and cybersecurity professionals, making it difficult for smaller organizations to hire and retain top talent. Outsourcing CISO and CIO responsibilities is a cost-effective solution that gives SMBs access to specialized expertise without the challenges and expense of recruitment and retention.
High Cost of Hiring Executives
Even if you can find skilled technology professionals, the cost of hiring a full-time CISO and CIO is often out of reach for SMBs. Outsourcing these roles on a part-time or contract basis means you won’t have salary, benefits, and overhead costs associated with a full-time hire.
Business Continuity and Resilience
If a security event or other disaster strikes, restoring and maintaining operations is a top priority. vCISOs and vCIOs can help ensure business continuity by developing disaster recovery and incident response plans, reducing downtime, and minimizing the impact of disruptions.
Strategic Planning and Business Alignment
vCIOs help bridge the gap between technology and business by working closely with other executives to align technology and security strategies with business goals, promoting efficiency, growth, and innovation.
vCISOs and vCIOs Deliver Exceptional ROI on Your Security Budget
For many organizations, outsourcing CISO and CIO responsibilities is a smart financial move. But when you partner with the right services provider, the benefits a vCISO or vCIO brings are far more than monetary.
In today’s rapidly evolving cybersecurity threat landscape—in which businesses struggle to find the resources to maintain an adequate security profile—vCISO and vCIO services offer peace of mind.
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