Cybersecurity is a complex initiative for any organization. Depending on your industry, the data you collect, and other factors, your business may be one that hackers target. They are opportunists, so if there are vulnerabilities and weaknesses, they’ll find them. As a result of this environment of risk, you need expertise that you may not currently have in-house, namely a CISO (chief information security officer). However, you may not have the budget to employ someone full-time, so outsourcing cybersecurity with a CISO-as-a-service could be a great solution.
In this post, we’ll review how to make such a decision, what to look for in a partner, and more best practices.
What Is CISO-as-a-Service?
CISO-as-a-service has become a preferred way for many SMBs to manage cybersecurity. In this relationship, you hire a cybersecurity firm to act as a CISO, taking on security leadership responsibilities. When you hire a third party to do this, you take some strain off of your full-time resources and provide them with guidance on how to develop and execute cyber strategies.
What Are the Different CISO-as-a-Service Models?
There are several ways you can engage a CISO-as-a-service. First, the relationship can be completely virtual or hybrid. If hybrid, the third party would come on-premises to work with your existing security team.
Another difference is the time of the retainer. You may subscribe to the service on an ongoing basis, or you could have them join your business for a specific period to work on projects like migrations or getting the company running. The third possibility is using one as a temporary CISO while you find one to bring on full-time.
When Should You Consider Hiring a CISO-as-a-Service?
Does your company need a CISO-as-a-service? It’s good practice for any business to have rigid and defined cybersecurity protocols. There could be an event that triggers your need to seek a virtual CISO, or you may be building a start-up and need the initial support of a cybersecurity expert. Here are some scenarios that would be a likely reason for hiring a CISO-as-service:
- You’re a start-up. Start-ups have to work lean to build their business and grow revenue. No matter your industry, technology will be a part of your operations. Planning this out with a CISO can help ensure your business takes off without any technical difficulties and that you have best practices in place to protect your network and data.
- You’re in a highly regulated industry. For those SMBs in healthcare and finance, you have extra burdens regarding cybersecurity. You must adhere to regulations like HIPAA to safeguard confidential information and data. You’ll need processes on how you do this and many mechanisms in place to remain compliant and secure. Working with a virtual CISO can support building these from scratch or evaluating and improving them.
- A data breach or cyber incident occurs. Almost half of all cyber breaches (46%) impact companies with less than 1,000 employees. They are a big target because 51% of small businesses have no cybersecurity measures in place. You don’t want to be part of these statistics, so outsourcing to a third party is the most cost-effective and impactful way to become a better cybersecurity practitioner.
- You need to fill the gap in cybersecurity leadership. Without cybersecurity leadership, IT operates independently and is possibly disconnected from the business. Your internal team may only have the time and skills to keep things running without assessing risk and taking on cyber threats more proactively. A CISO can bring the guidance needed to improve your risk posture.
- A major project requires a cyber strategy. If you have any major tech project coming up, from migrating from legacy software to building a new physical office, you need guidance from experts. You want to think about all the implications that could affect your network and data. Working with a CISO-as-a-service allows you to develop a plan that keeps things secure, so you can be more confident when you make a move.
- Your company is growing, and you can’t keep up with cybersecurity. Experiencing business success by gaining more customers and revenue is a good problem to have. It could make you more attractive to hackers, and your current network may be under strain. You can resolve these challenges by working with an outsourced CISO to help you build your new tech stack, enlarge your network, or identify the right cloud model that will work best for you.
What Can a CISO-as-a-Service Do?
The work of the CISO will depend on your needs and the model you choose. To help you better understand what capabilities they have, here are some examples:
- Assessing the overall risk of your networks to identify weaknesses and devise plans to fix them
- Developing cybersecurity strategies relating to compliance, data usage, network frameworks, migration plans, governance, business continuity, disaster recovery, cloud management, and more
- Defining a cybersecurity awareness training program for employees
- Creating secure business and communication protocols
- Determining ways to measure cybersecurity effectiveness and reporting
- Monitoring cybersecurity operations
- Upskilling and training current IT staff
- Managing other third-party relationships that involve cybersecurity
- Building your tech stack to meet your company’s needs now and in the future
As you can see, the CISO-as-a-service is both a strategic and tactical role.
CISO-as-a-Service: A Strategic and Tactical Role
In many relationships you have with third parties, they are either strategic or tactical. CISO-as-a-service is both. Strategically, they assist your leaders with the adoption of a risk assessment strategy that aligns with the business. They can develop a multi-year plan to outline your cybersecurity roadmap with lots of recommendations on how to get there and make your cybersecurity program more robust so that you reduce the risk of breaches and attacks.
On the tactical slide, a virtual CISO gets things done. They are working in parallel with your current team to guide their performance of the necessary tactical actions. It’s taking the strategy and executing it. A CISO-as-a-service firm could do all the executing as well.
With an outsourced CISO sitting in both parts of the cybersecurity circle, you have the assurance that there is alignment between the two.
So, how do you find a great CISO-as-a-service?
What to Look for When Hiring a CISO-as-a-Service?
As you seek out a virtual CISO, remember you’re looking for more than technical knowledge. Because of how this role works, they need soft skills and experience in leadership. Here are some critical considerations for finding your CISO partner:
- The best CISOs are great communicators. The person or group should be comfortable talking to technical folks and business ones. They need to speak the language of inclusivity, not geek speak. They should also be great listeners.
- Effective CISOs have strong presentation skills. A CISO may be representing your cyber interests in presentations to clients, boards, or investors. They need to be able to convey risk in a tangible way and deliver concise takeaways on how to align business and cybersecurity.
- CISOs need to understand your business and objectives. A well-informed CISO knows your company thoroughly and what you need to grow and thrive.
- CISOs must be collaborators. Cybersecurity involves every area of your business, and a CISO should be able to bring groups together to work through challenges. They should be a partner to you, not a vendor.
- CISOs should be excellent planners. Your cybersecurity strategy has to have a plan behind it, so your CISO-as-a-service should have the capability to take a vision and facilitate and be able to adapt if things change.
- A CISO should have incident management experience. They are responsible for developing your incident response plan, testing it, and revising it. It’s imperative they have this kind of expertise.
- Your CISO needs regulatory knowledge. Compliance obligations regarding data are vital to any company. Make sure your CISO knows these well.
- CISOs must be great at risk assessment and management. A CISO owns the area of risk and must be vigilant about new ones that could be emerging in such a dynamic environment.
What Can You Expect with Blue Goat Cyber as Your Virtual CISO?
Blue Goat Cyber is a team of highly skilled cyber professionals with real-world experience and notable certifications. Our CISO-as-a-service offering includes:
- Project manager as your single point of contact for all tasks and deliverables
- An initial Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) baseline evaluation, review of the results, and next steps
- Creation of or updated incident response plan (IRP)
- An interim enterprise risk assessment to define and confirm your critical assets and systems
- Development of a cybersecurity roadmap with quarterly reviews to ensure adherence to compliance and business objectives
- Reporting of cybersecurity metrics every month
- Incident response oversight
- Bi-annual CMMC assessments to measure the maturity of your cyber operations
- Remote support for any engagement or meeting where CISO expertise is necessary
- Accessing our team for cybersecurity subject matter expertise and consulting
Learn more about what we offer and why we’re a great choice for CISO-as-a-service by scheduling a 30-minute discovery session with us.