To CISO or CISOaaS, that is the question

Data has become one of the most valuable currencies in the world that we now work and live in. Cyber-attacks are becoming more frequent, with the end to stopping cyber-criminals nowhere in sight. In a digital world where technology evolves rapidly and data use and consumption are on the rise, there is an increasing threat of theft and fraud; combating this rapid growth has led organisations to focus on a strategy which is designed and coordinated from board level.

Security is too important to be left to the IT Department, it is a mixture of technology, governance, people and awareness. Therefore, security is everyone’s responsibility.

Introducing the role of the Chief Information Security Officer, more commonly known as the CISO. A role that has been around for a while now to focus on the strategy and ongoing management of protecting an organisation’s company and customer data, and infrastructure and assets from threat actors. The CISO needs to supervise and provide leadership and management throughout an organisation – especially on matters that relates to cyber and information security. To succeed, a CISO needs the full support and trust of the business, to be able to act independently and have direct access to the board and a seat at the executives table.

When choosing the perfect candidate to fill your CISO shoes, the following responsibilities should be considered:

  • Business practices: ensure the ongoing management of security awareness and training throughout the business, creating and updating new policies, procedures and processes to ensure that best practices are developed in house.
  • Security technologies: have input when discussing the planning, buying and rolling out of new technologies within the business and ensure that current infrastructure is designed with security in mind.
  • Security operations: understand real time threats and be involved if something goes wrong within the organisation’s perimeter.
  • Risk management: identifying, mitigating and avoiding risks, understanding the businesses assets and know that threats ultimately decide what measures should be taken to protect the assets.
  • Compliance (Legal/Regulatory): understand the applicable laws and regulations to your business, if regulations require you to carry out a task to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data, the CISO should have a solution.
  • Governance: the icing on the cake, making sure that the aforementioned workstreams are running smoothly, as well as ensuring necessary funding exists.

So, what are my options?

There are two solutions for businesses to consider: (a) hire a full time CISO or, (b) look to outsource the service (i.e. CISOaaS or Virtual CISO-like services). The noticeable difference between both options is price. A full time CISO can easily cost an organisation around £100,000 annually, not to mention have an average shelf life of approximately 18 months – not including hiring costs in the first year. Whereas with a CISOaaS solution the cost is likely to be a day rate which gives you control over the annual spend. Ultimately, getting the same service from a full-time employee but at a fraction of the cost.

Additionally, utilising a CISOaaS offering enables businesses to gain direct access to pools of experienced cyber security professionals, resources quickly, reduce overall business risk with clearly defined roadmaps and support information and cyber security goals across the organisation.

In a nutshell, making use of a CISOaaS will enable you to bridge the gap between senior leadership and information security. When the right CISO is placed within an organisation, they use their experience and leadership skills to develop information security to not only support the business cyber security needs, but to enable an organisation to keep winning in their marketplace.