What is a CISO?
The Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is the senior executive responsible for an organization’s information security program. Depending on the structure of the organization, this role may also be referred to as the Information Security Manager, Data Security Officer, and many other similar names. Regardless of title, the responsibilities of this position are generally the same: design and implement policies and processes that protect the organization’s data and digital assets. It should be noted that while a CISO may work closely with a Chief Information Officer (CIO), these two positions often fulfill different roles. The CIO is typically responsible for ensuring that an organization’s IT infrastructure is in place and coordinating the direction of their technology-based business strategies. To put it simply: the CIO ensures the IT infrastructure is operating properly and the CISO ensures it is operating securely.
Why Hire a Virtual CISO?
With more and more business being conducted online, ensuring data security is becoming a larger and more difficult task every day. Whether it is opportunity attackers scanning thousands of websites looking for low-hanging fruit or advanced persistent threat actors performing continuous and targeted attacks, it is crucial that an organization do its best to protect its digital assets. This includes not just the company’s intellectual property or other proprietary information, but also any customer information that may be stored on their servers as well.
Given the scope and significance of this task, it should be taken on by someone in a role specifically dedicated for it. In the past, it was sometimes enough to have a member of the organization’s IT staff handle security related issues. With the way technology infrastructure has expanded in recent years, however, it is no longer sufficient to relegate digital security to a secondary role. In addition, IT and Information Security (IS) teams will often have opposing views regarding the usability of technology within an organization. For example, the IT team may want more relaxed password policies for employee email accounts to ensure that everyone can access their email without needing to perform an overwhelming number of password resets. The IS team may want stricter password policies to help prevent an outside attacker from gaining unauthorized access, even though it may mean employees getting locked out of their accounts more often. Moving too far in one direction or the other can have a serious impact on data security or the day-to-day functioning of the organization. Having both CISO and CIO roles within the organization can help make sure that both viewpoints are considered and an appropriate balance is found.
Even though information security is an important aspect of any organization, it is sometimes infeasible or unnecessary for many companies to hire a full-time CISO. The costs associated with hiring a full-time CISO are often too high for a company to justify, especially for companies that have a small number of staff or simple IT infrastructure. In instances like these, remote Virtual CISO services may be a better fit to fulfill the organization’s security needs. A Virtual CISO, also called vCISO, can be hired as a permanent part-time member to help the organization long-term or on a short-term basis to assist with a particular project. With a vCISO, an organization can benefit from security expertise and increase their digital security standing without incurring the costs typically associated with hiring a full-time employee. In addition, data breaches can be costly themselves. The benefit of hiring a vCISO can easily outweigh the cost of recovering after a breach.
Hiring a vCISO
Although hiring a full-time employee can be an arduous and time-consuming task, hiring a vCISO can be a simple and straightforward process. For example, Vestige’s vCISO process takes place in three easy steps: Consultation, Assessment, and Solution. First, we schedule a free consultation to learn about the organization’s technology infrastructure, security concerns, and issues. Second, we perform a comprehensive assessment of the organization’s risk environment. This includes reviewing items such as business strategies, network configurations, security policies, and infrastructure. Third, we put together a full, ongoing plan that includes specific activities, outcomes, and deliverables.
Once a vCISO is hired, they should work closely with the people involved in the day-to-day issues of the company. A vCISO acts as an extension of the teams already in place and collaborates with them to help improve the organization’s security standing. With this type of setup, the vCISO handles the heavy lifting related to the assessment and planning of the organization’s information security, allowing the full-time employees to focus on other responsibilities. In addition, many companies implemented work-from-home policies in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This means that employees and clients are often already accustomed to working with remote team members.
Benefits of a vCISO
Whether it is for a specific project or day-to-day operations, hiring a vCISO can make a significant positive impact on an organization’s security environment. Vestige has the knowledge and experience required to successfully design and implement a comprehensive security plan customized for each of our clients. Here’s a link to learn more about Vestige’s Virtual CISO Services.
By Danny Stemple, BS, CCO, CCPA, ACE
Cybersecurity & Digital Forensic Analyst
Vestige Digital Investigations
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