What is vCISO and Who Needs CISSP Expertise?


September 24, 2021

A vCISO with CISSP credentials is a hot commodity.

vCISOs and CISOs have Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) accreditation, making these IT superstars the most in-demand security resources today.

A vCISO is virtual, while a CISO is a full-time employee. We’ll use both titles interchangeably to extoll their strategic value in your IT security program.

Let’s start with rigorous training, testing, and career tenure requirements. Why is this important? This experience gives CISOs comprehensive skills across eight related IT disciplines:

  • Security and Risk Management
  • Asset Security
  • Architecture and Engineering
  • Communication and Network Security
  • Identity and Access Management
  • Security Assessment and Testing
  • Operations
  • Software Development Security

Learn More: CISSP Certification

With 50,000 CISO job openings at any given time, it’s no wonder CISOs command between $110,000.00 and $125,000 per year, according to ZipRecruiter and PayScale.

If that price tag scares you, read further for ways to gain vCIO benefits at a fraction of the cost on a fractional basis. Why not get the best of both worlds?

Let’s see if you fit into any of these categories.

Who needs a vCISO?

  • Companies with fewer than 1,000 employees that want to avoid the cost of hiring a full-time CISO
  • Companies with in-house IT departments that need augmentation
  • Companies with MSPs that want a third-party audit to assess vendor effectiveness
  • Companies that need an MSP who offers everything, including a vCISO offering


What problems and initiatives do vCISO services address?

With today’s growing cybersecurity regulations, installing a firewall and having employees take a training course on phishing emails is not enough. It would help if you went deeper. Cybersecurity is a journey.

HIPAA, NYDFS, GDPR, PCI, and an alphabet list of others have minimum guidelines that grow increasingly sophisticated daily. Prepare to discount your worries. A vCISO stays two steps ahead, providing compliance-driven policies and procedures that go way beyond the scope of hardware and software products.

A Chief Information Security Officer understands these requirements. And how to apply the associated regulations to your business and technology infrastructure. They blend big picture thinking with attention to detail by:

  • Assessing your current state of compliance
  • Making recommendations to balance budgets and risk tolerance
  • Conducting testing to ensure success
  • Assisting with vendor and client evaluations to guarantee that everyone follows the same high standards

CISOs employ thought leadership to create information security policies, perform services, and utilize software, including:

  • Breach notification
  • Contingency planning
  • Cybersecurity programs
  • Email solutions
  • Encryption
  • Information disclosure
  • Mobile devices
  • Remote access
  • Security event reporting


Do You Review Your Cybersecurity Standing Regularly?

Security is a shifting goalpost requiring quarterly audits to ensure your business is compliant and secure.


What Security Policies And Procedures Do You Have In Place?

Every business has unique cybersecurity needs requiring customized programs, policies, procedures, and technical safeguards.


Do You Know Your Industry’s Security Regulations?

Technology and regulations change rapidly, making it challenging to stay on top of your industry’s security standards, including ISO27000, PCI DSS, HIPAA/HITECH, and more.


How Do You Manage Compliance With Your Network?

Knowing all the policies and procedures for regulatory compliance within your industry is a good start. However, implementing and managing them within your network is an entirely different task.


How are vCISO services sold?

vCISO “as a service” is available in three varieties:

  • A line item in your Managed IT Services MSA
  • A stand-alone service billed as a retainer over 12 months
  • A one-time project engagement


What are the most common vCISO services and projects?


Data Mapping

A requirement for GDPR, data mapping exercises help identify your data’s location and how it is protected.

Security Awareness Training

The best firewall is the “human firewall.” vCISOs provide and manage online training for your employees.

Third-Party Vendor Review

vCISOs ensure vendor contracts and services comply with necessary security standards to reduce risks and vulnerabilities.

Industry Standard Assessments

Whether you need an ISO 27001/2 gap analysis or an FFIEC cyber security assessment tool, CISOs help navigate all aspects of your security standards.

Business Continuity Planning

Interruptions happen. vCISOs implement strategies to prevent data loss to keep your business going, even in the worst-case scenarios.


What’s Next?

A cybersecurity partner who knows your business, the regulations, and the risks will improve your security posture.

vCISO gives you a full arsenal of information security policies and programs developed by CISSP engineers to manage and assess risk and measure vulnerabilities, including ongoing network testing with certified ethical hackers.

Can you afford a full-time CISO? Most businesses with under 1,000 employees cannot. You may encounter other hurdles: ongoing certification, headcount, and professional development.

An MSP with vCISO personnel keeps everyone up to date on their certifications. They have a team of CISOs, and the team works within several different industries. Why does this matter? Exposure to diverse IT environments brings fresh perspectives and new ideas.

For a deeper dive into CISO and CISSP, please see this CISSP Tutorial.

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

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