Managed Services | Outsourcing | Risk & Compliance | Security

Why Every Business Needs a Virtual CISO

In the old days, business owners worried about protecting only their physical assets. Now, protecting digital assets is just as important.  

Cybercrime cost businesses about $8 trillion in 2023, and that number is expected to grow to more than $10.5 trillion by 2025.  

With cybercrime on the rise and attacks becoming more complex every day, many businesses are left scrambling to find ways to protect their data, networks, and servers. Large companies with the funds to afford best-in-class technology adopt modern methods more quickly. But small and midsize businesses (SMBs) often fall behind, even though 43% of cyberattacks target such businesses. 

One-way businesses of any scale can begin structuring a practical approach to cybersecurity is by hiring a virtual chief information security officer (CISO). 

Below, we’ll explain how virtual CISOs can help SMBs like yours with their strategic and technological expertise.  

What Is a Virtual CISO? 

Imagine what a security officer looks like. You’re probably thinking of someone on-site to prevent instances of illicit activity, like shoplifting. They also monitor security cameras and coordinate safety plans for the staff.  

A virtual CISO works in the same way. However, instead, they monitor and assess virtual security processes and potential threats.  

So, what does a virtual CISO do? Here are some of their core responsibilities: 

  • Manage risk assessments and identify security gaps. 
  • Create an incident response plan. 
  • Develop and implement security policies.  
  • Conduct audits for regulatory compliance.  
  • Assess third-party vendors for risks. 

The role can be even broader, as these cybersecurity consultants come with vast expertise to advance their business’s managed security services.  

7 Benefits of Hiring a Virtual CISO 

Many businesses see reduced risks almost immediately after hiring a virtual CISO. It’s a significant first step to equip a business with a professional who understands the ins and outs of repelling attackers and mitigating the potential for data breaches. But virtual CISOs also offer many other unforeseen benefits. 

  1. Access to Top-Notch Expertise Without Breaking the Bank

Hiring an outside security professional may seem counterintuitive to saving money. Of course, it costs money to hire a specialist. However, virtual CISOs bring about significant cost savings, as opposed to hiring a full-time security lead.  

Given budgetary constraints, a full-time CISO might not be in the cards for many SMBs. However, failing to manage data security leaves businesses open to cyber threats. With the average data breach costing $4.45 million, paying a virtual CISO far outweighs the potential risk of succumbing to a cyberattack.  

Virtual CISOs bring expertise and industry insights without costing an arm and a leg. Many SMBs find the option appealing, as it eliminates the need to hire a full-time employee. However, a trusted professional is still there to develop and execute holistic security protocols with little need for oversight.  

  1. Strategic Planning and Risk Management

Investing in information security isn’t optional. It must be a business priority.  

A virtual CISO allows SMBs to craft a bespoke security plan that syncs with their unique goals. Virtual CISOs have a knack for identifying risks, conducting assessments, and implementing proactive security measures to shield vital assets.  

For example, putting together a thorough incident reporting policy can eat up massive amounts of time. Virtual CISOs hurdle the learning curve and immediately get to work, allowing you to rest easy, knowing you’re well-equipped to face all types of threats. 

  1. Guidance Through the Complex Maze of Compliance and Regulatory Requirements 

SMBs often find themselves lost in the long and winding trail of regulations. When it comes to compliance, slip-ups can lead to hefty penalties and even tarnish your reputation.  

A virtual CISO brings their knowledge of industry standards and regulations such as:  

  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) 
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) 
  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) 
  • Information Security Management Standard (ISO 20071) 
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 

They’ll ensure you meet all of your industry’s compliance requirements and avoid potential legal or financial snags. Staying compliant is also essential for maintaining customers’ trust, as a single slip-up can sometimes irreparably damage a business’s public image.  

  1. Incident Response and Threat Management 

Reports show that only 37% of companies have an incident response strategy. Lacking such a plan leaves businesses in a chaotic tailspin in the event of an attack or breach, whereas a structured approach can dramatically limit the damages. 

A virtual CISO helps SMBs develop an efficient incident response plan that covers everything from detection to recovery. They also understand how to stay on top of the latest threats and attack techniques to proactively identify and neutralize potential risks.   

  1. Scalability and Flexibility

Staying abreast of modern network and mobile application security is essential for honing the ability to thwart attacks as they evolve. Virtual CISOs are responsible for tracking the latest developments. Then, as they see fit for your business, they recommend applying new security tools and tweaking your security strategies to suit your changing business needs.  

Whether you’re scaling up or embracing new tech, they can offer invaluable guidance to ensure your security never takes a backseat and continues improving over time.  

  1. Securing Remote Workforces 

The dawn of remote work means many companies operate with bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. These policies cut costs and allow employees to use their preferred devices. However, they also present many security risks.  

For one, remote work requires more cloud computing, and many businesses aren’t prepared with proper cloud security. This can leave sensitive corporate data exposed or open to unauthorized access. Likewise, monitoring activity across numerous networks and application programming interfaces (APIs) is much more difficult.  

A virtual CISO thoroughly understands application and network security, even for complex situations like remote workforces. They can recommend and implement strategies so companies can monitor their teams with better, data-driven analytics. They can also put together pivotal training resources for employees as they transition and learn what’s required for responsible off-site work.  

  1. Objective and Impartial Approach to Security 

Handling security internally can result in clashes of opinion. Additionally, knowledge gaps can leave vulnerabilities if security teams aren’t well-versed in a particular subject.  

Virtual CISOs provide an expert opinion that’s independent of the inner politics of office life. A virtual CISO also collaborates with internal teams to ensure they have the best information to assess the health of the company’s security.  

Some companies might feel like they don’t need a virtual CISO, given that they already have an internal security team. Even if you have a great security team, though, bringing in a part-time virtual CISO can help you spot undetected security gaps. They can also comb through your existing security strategies and incident reporting processes, measuring their effectiveness and offering ways to optimize them.  

Hire the Best Virtual CISO Today 

SMBs must not waste time prioritizing information security. The right virtual CISO brings much-needed expertise, strategic planning, and risk management to beef up your security without requiring you to shell out big bucks for a full-time security executive. Then, with improved cyber-threat protection, you can concentrate on your core business objectives and chart your growth path with confidence.  

Consider ISOutsource if you’re looking for top-notch virtual CISOs for SMBs. We offer robust, cost-effective security strategies and services, including access to some of the best virtual CISOs in the security industry.  

Visit our page today to schedule a call and learn how our virtual CISOs can strengthen your security approach.