Three Reasons Community Banks Need a vCISO Now


September 5, 2023

Engaging with a vCISO now gives community banks an instant, versatile, and scalable resource to optimize trust as the banking industry weathers two storms: a rash of high-profile financial institution failures and nonstop cyber warfare.

As “too big to fail banks” fail, community banks are poised to gain market share if they can reframe depositor mindsets.

According to Morgan Simon of Forbes, “As people fear smaller banks will struggle in the wake of the Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank collapses, they often note a preference for the big-name banks that in the past have proven to be too big to fail. This state of mind may give consumers a false sense of security and gut community institutions that serve vital roles if people draw down assets en masse.”

For this reason, executives at smaller banks should accentuate two critical differentiators:

  • Conservative, less speculative, and locally concentrated lending practices lower the financial risk for businesses and consumers.
  • Community banks with operationally mature cybersecurity programs are best prepared to safeguard client assets.

Let’s review three reasons to start your vCISO conversation immediately.


#1 – A vCISO Offers Security Specialization Amidst Nonstop Regulation and Compliance Changes

A vCISO (virtual Chief Information Security Officer) is often confused with a vCIO (virtual Chief Information Officer). While the roles overlap, you want to avoid one person trying to perform both functions. (The same logic applies to full-time employees – CIOs and CISOs.)

Daniel Quong of Fortinet summarizes the differences between CISO and CIO as follows:

  • Both positions involve the oversight and security of an organization’s information systems, but they have distinct differences in their responsibilities and focus.
  • The CIO is primarily responsible for planning, implementing, and managing an organization’s IT infrastructure and technological resources. 
  • The CISO is mainly responsible for developing and implementing cybersecurity policies, procedures, and protocols. 
  • The CIO is responsible for procuring and maintaining technology. 
  • The CISO establishes best practices for risk management, incident response, and data privacy. 
  • In short, the CIO looks after the technology, while the CISO keeps it secure.

With regulators picking up their oversight of cybersecurity policies and data security, now is the best time to work with a vCISO, especially since regulators want to see more engagement between senior leadership, IT, and bank boards to drive security strategy and accountability.

Do you need help answering questionnaires for your cybersecurity liability insurance applications? Is your executive team asking for documentation that doesn’t exist? A vCISO can jump right in and deliver the “receipts.”

Learn More: 2023 Bank Regulatory Outlook


#2 – A vCISO Neutralizes 24/7/365 Threat Actor Innovation

Threat actors always launch new schemes, including Zero Day threats and phishing campaigns with innovative black-market Phishing as a Service (PaaS) tools.

According to Daryna Antoniuk, in the August 8, 2023 edition of Recorded Future News, “Interpol just took down a Phishing as a Service platform used by 70,000 cyber thieves. Law enforcement arrested a 21-year-old Indonesian man accused of administering the platform and two other individuals involved in its operation — one in Indonesia and one in Japan. The police also confiscated electronic devices and several luxury items belonging to the suspects.”

The criminal activity never stops. For every organization that gets caught, thousands of new ones emerge to target people, businesses, and governments across the globe.

Zero Day threats are the number one attack vector. As the name suggests, these novel attacks pop up out of nowhere and exploit unpatched vulnerabilities in operating systems, browsers, security, IT, and network management products, and mobile devices.

Launched by hostile nation-states with financial motives, these incursions sow grave psychological havoc because patches are unavailable when the breaches get publicly disclosed.


#3 – A vCISO Improves Your Financial Performance

vCISO expertise has a host of benefits that improve your bottom line.

Enhancing Operations

KnowBe4 reports, “Over 91% of organizations that suffer breaches also experience operating aftershocks.” For this reason, businesses are increasing cybersecurity spending as a protective measure. Why? Non-compliance costs 2.71 times the cost of maintaining or meeting compliance requirements.

It’s a simple matter of dollars and cents, and a vCISO can implement a strategy to reduce the likelihood of downtime, bad publicity, client churn, remediation expenses, and fines.

Controlling Payroll Overhead

You also reduce costs by working with a vCISO because there’s a worldwide talent shortage. So, even if you find a full-time CISO, they command an average annual salary of $200,000 per year, and they may not stay.

A vCISO gives you the same expertise at a fraction of the cost with no turnover risk. They’re also objective mediators with lower perceived political risk to your full-time IT staff. Your IT team can focus on enablement while the vCISO can address safety and security.

Learn More: vCISO Consulting

Budgetary Transparency

A vCISO can help you demonstrate due care by separating your cybersecurity budget from your IT budget. An IT budget covers infrastructure:

  • Servers
  • Computers
  • Networking Equipment
  • Software
  • Cloud Subscriptions
  • MSP Technical Support
  • IT Staff Salaries
  • Training

A cybersecurity budget covers the people, processes, and technology that secure it:

  • Antivirus, Encryption, and Endpoint Protection
  • Chief Information Security Officers and Security Analysts
  • Content Filtering and Firewalls
  • Cybersecurity Awareness Training
  • Incident Response Planning
  • Intrusion Detection Systems
  • Managed Detection and Response
  • Risk Assessments and Penetration Testing
  • Security Policy, Process, and Procedure Development

Learn More: Cybersecurity Services


A Powerful Partnership

Are you securing your organization while enabling it, or putting more resources into leveraging technology to grow?

A vCISO can help you answer this question and prioritize immediate next steps to create a durable and nimble balance.

As Thomas Hill, CISO at Live Oak Bank, advises, “There needs to be a healthy conflict and a proper governance structure. I think every organization will find it needs both a CIO’s voice and a CSO’s voice. In my organization, with today’s threats that involve hackers using social attacks to do account takeovers, my interest is now focused on bringing the cybersecurity and fraud organizations together. We’re already seeing an overlap in concerns. The two haven’t always been talking, but if we could put them together, we could manage risk better together. That is a vision for my organization, to bring them together to be more proactive instead of reactive. They need to be partners in their work.”

Please schedule a free consultation to explore ways Integris FID can integrate vCISO expertise into your operations.





Jed is a Solution Advisor at Integris who has specialized in MSP solution development, sales, and marketing communications since 2003.

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