What is a Virtual Chief Information Security Officer?

What is a Virtual Chief Information Security Officer


What is a Virtual Chief Information Security Officer: Why and When to Hire One?


In an era of cloud computing and heightened cyber-attacks, organisations turn to Chief Information Security Officers (CISO). A CISO can help organisations establish and maintain their cybersecurity strategy to protect their digital assets. So, what is a Virtual Chief Information Security Officer?

Foremost, a CISO is a cybersecurity expert in charge of establishing and implementing information security programs for an organisation. Typically, a CISO is part of an organisation’s internal personnel. Currently, many organisations are employing a Virtual CISO due to budget constraints.

Therefore, a Virtual CISO is a cybersecurity expert, who offers their services remotely to the outsourcing organisation.


Responsibilities of a Virtual Chief Information Security Officer

A CISO is both a problem solver and a leader. They are in charge of developing a fully-fledged information security program. The developed program aims to preserve the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of an organisation’s IT resources. In addition, they oversee the implementation of such programs.

With this broad objective in mind, let’s look at the specific roles and responsibilities of a CISO.

Risk and Compliance

Every organisation should be aware of how their information security measures up with legal requirements. For example, GDPR has provisions that address how organisations should process the personal data of EU residents. Therefore, organisations should develop their information security programs in accordance with the provisions. A CISO is responsible for developing and adjusting policies based on relevant legal requirements.

Technical Operations

A CISO is typically involved in the technical security operations of an organisation. These operations include running vulnerability scans, conducting penetration testing and carrying out risk assessments. Risk assessments help to ensure an organisation’s security configurations can withstand possible cyber-attacks.

Internal and External Communication Link

A CISO acts as a communication link between internal departments in cybersecurity matters, providing assistance, guidance, and direction. Additionally, they act as a go-between for the organisation and external vendors or third parties on cybersecurity issues. Having a direct relationship with various departments and external stakeholders enables the CISO to have clear visibility of potential vulnerabilities and possible solutions.



Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Chief Information Security Officer

The main reason many organisations are opting for a Virtual CISO, rather than hiring someone permanently, is all about the benefits. There are many benefits that come with using a Virtual CISO, with the following standing out most:


A suitable in-house CISO is hard to find, and if you are lucky to find one, there are difficulties retaining their services as they often work independently. But if you opt for a virtual CISO, you are assured to be partnered with a suitable provider with extensive cybersecurity experience. Another benefit of hiring a virtual CISO is that you have access to a pool of several experts who can work together to give you the best service.

Opportunity to Learn

Hiring a Virtual CISO should also be seen as a learning opportunity for your in-house IT team. Since the individual is an expert in information security, your IT team will be able to tap into their expertise and develop their own skills.


The average salary of a full-time CISO has been increasing significantly for the last decade. In addition, just like the rest of your employees, in-house CISOs qualify for additional benefits and other incentives. This makes it more cost-effective to hire a Virtual CISO who is typically paid per session.

When Should you Hire a vCISO: Use Case Scenario

The choice of hiring a Virtual CISO versus recruiting a permanent in-house expert may still be uncertain. Here are two common case scenarios for when you should opt for the former.

Bridging to a new CISO

The departure of your in-house CISO might be untimely; let’s say s/he leaves behind incomplete information security initiatives. In this case, a Virtual CISO is suitable, who would review existing programs and help recruit a new in-house CISO.

Developing robust cybersecurity for small businesses

Small businesses typically lack sufficient resources to hire a full-time expert to develop and manage a robust cybersecurity program. This case scenario requires a Virtual CISO who would come in on a part-time basis.

Who Should Consider Hiring a vCISO

The following are a few scenarios that guide who should hire a virtual CISO:

Availability of sensitive data

If an organisation has sensitive data that can lead to huge losses if compromised, then a CISO is definitely required to protect the data.

Lack of enough resources

Small organisations with limited budget to recruit permanent experts should consider hiring virtual CISOs to help them address cybersecurity concerns.

Speak to the Cybersecurity Experts Today

If your organisation wants to understand what a Virtual Chief Information Security Officer is and how they can help you, reach out today to speak to our friendly experts.


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