CISO As a Service

CISO-as-a-Service (CISOaaS) involves outsourcing the IT security leadership responsibilities to a third-party provider. During the past 12 months, the demand for hiring a third-party provider to support implementing an IT security strategy has been growing significantly.

Every successful company needs a detailed and strategic cybersecurity program. To develop and uphold this program’s security initiatives, most companies either hire a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) to manage an internal security team or an experienced CISO as a Service or vCISO vendor to manage security remotely.

What are the three common types of CISO?

Today’s CISO: The Three Personality Types – Technical, Business, and Strategic

 The Technical Information Security Officer (TISO) …

 The Business Information Security Officer (BISO) …

 The Strategic Information Security Officer (SISO)…

Benefits of employing a CISO as a service 

Using a virtual CISO can have both pros and cons. The potential benefits of hiring a CISOaaS include the following:

Unbiased analysis. As an external third party, the vCISO may be able to evaluate an organization’s existing security program more objectively than an internal employee.

Cost-effectiveness. Pay-as-you-go pricing allows organizations to pay for only the time and services they use. A vCISO is usually drastically cheaper than having a salaried CISO in-house and saves on capital expenditures.

On-demand service. Using a service provider allows for constant, flexible availability of security resources. As demands change, clients can alter their services accordingly.

Long- and short-term benefits. In the short term, vCISOs can make organizations more secure by identifying immediate risks and introducing or tightening controls. In the long term, they can help lay the groundwork for a future in-house security program through training and improvement of core processes and infrastructure.

Experience. Many vCISOs have had extensive experience working with a wide array of diverse organizations.


Determining if you need a CISO as a service 

Any organization without a CISO in-house could consider CISOaaS as a viable option. Following are several scenarios in which this might be the case:

 Startups without the resources to hire full-time CISOs can use vCISOs for their expertise and cost-effectiveness.

 Organizations that are in the process of looking for new permanent CISOs can hire vCISOs temporarily to fill the gap.

 Organizations under pressure to meet security or compliance goals can benefit from vCISOs’ on-demand nature.

 Organizations looking to upgrade their cybersecurity programs can seek the third-party expertise of vCISOs.

 Organizations that use lean IT principles can temporarily employ a vCISO rather than investing in a full-time position.

 An organization without a permanent security team that wants to lay the foundation for a new, long-term program can get started with a vCISO.

CISO-as-a-service offerings

CISO-as-a-service offerings are usually pay-as-you-go and on-demand. They are often paid for on a yearly subscription basis using a retainer. The amount of time the vCISO spends on-site is then negotiated and the retainer is based on a set number of days or hours per year. This varies based on the vendor’s offerings and the customer organization’s needs.

Sometimes vCISOs are hired for short-term fixes to security issues; other times they are hired for longer-term solutions, such as developing a company’s entire security program.

CISOs are some of the highest-paid professionals in IT security. Hiring a vCISO is often drastically cheaper because of this payment model. Organizations may spend between $100,000-$200,000 a year on retaining in-house talent, whereas a vCISO generally costs less than half of that.

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