CISO Services: the Functions, Benefits, and Trends

CISOs act as shields protecting your organization’s intellectual property, sensitive data, and information assets. Learn how to choose the best CISO services for your business.

Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is a synonym for expertise, efficiency, and reliability in the world of cybersecurity. The amount and severity of cybercrimes are constantly growing and cost businesses, on average $4.35 million per breach, according to IBM. So, managers are looking for efficient ways to safeguard their companies. 

Many businesses hire full-time CISOs to manage their information security program and protect the organization and its customers from security threats and data breaches. Experienced CISOs act as shields from cybersecurity risks. Their only disadvantage – is the cost and availability. The average CISO salary in the U.S. is $234,025 as of October 27, 2022. Many small and medium-sized businesses cannot afford such a luxury.

Fortunately, there is an alternative solution to the expensive and high-in-demand CISOs a virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO). Many vendors, including Planet 9,  provide virtual CISO services for a fraction of the amount it costs for a full-time in-house CISO. Thus, note that although the full-time and virtual CISOs are suitable for different business needs, their roles are identical. 

In this article, we recall the main responsibilities of the CISO work, review the recent trends of modern CISOs, and explain why CISO is the best solution for small and mid-sized businesses.

What does a CISO do?

A CISO protects the company’s intellectual property, sensitive data, and information assets. Thus, it manages the overall information security of an organization, including the cyber and physical side. The goal of such services is to provide “as needed” help in managing information security and compliance programs to businesses that lack staff with the expertise to take on such responsibilities.

CISO’s responsibilities vary depending on the organization’s scope and needs and include, in general:

  • establishing a security framework for business and IT operations;
  • developing and implementing information security policies and processes;
  • managing security awareness training and education programs;
  • ensuring compliance with standards, regulations, and laws;
  • performing audits and risk assessments;
  • detecting and responding to security incidents;
  • supporting continuity planning or disaster recovery;
  • preparing budgets and financial forecasts 
  • allocating financial resources involving security operations and maintenance

The Recent Trends of Modern CISOs

The CISO’s responsibilities are also defined by global cybersecurity trends. Recently, Heidrick & Struggles released The 2022 Global Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Survey that shed light on some of the most important CISO trends. The company compiled data from a survey conducted in Spring 2022 of 327 CISOs worldwide – predominantly from the United States, Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.

Here are a few important highlights from the report.

Most CISOs come from the IT background

When looking for a skilled CISO, you are highly likely to look for someone with an IT background. However, in terms of the former experience, most CISOs (55%) had recent experience in financial services. 45% of the current CISOa are former workers in technology and telecom. Many CISOs come from industrial manufacturing and energy (28%), retail and media (25%), healthcare (18%), and the public sector (14%). At the same time, in terms of their functions background, the main function of CISOs’ carriers are IT (71%) and software engineering (10%). 

CISOs’ top five functions

The top five functions include security operations, governance risk and compliance, penetration testing and risk assessment, security architecture, application/product security, and business continuity planning. Performing all these functions aims to protect the company’s communications, systems, and assets from both internal and external threats.

The primary threats CISOs deal with

The areas of responsibility of CISOs go in line with the most significant threats companies are facing. Ransomware attacks and insider incidents are at the top of this list, with 67% and 32%, respectively. Notably, the nation/state threats are in third place with 31% – not far behind. The fourth and fifth places are occupied by malware attacks and malware-free attacks (31% and 3%, respectively). As a result, cybersecurity is becoming more and more rooted in core software development, business processes, and national security. So, more organizations are taking a “security by design” approach across the board.

Benefits of Hiring a vCISO

While both in-house and virtual CISOs offer top-level data protection and effectiveness, the letter is more suitable for small and medium-sized businesses. The advantages of however, there are some advantages of vCISO in small and mid-size business settings:

Maximum results at minimum costs

Hiring an experienced full-time CISO is a luxury that many SMBs cannot afford or may not even need. Virtual CISOs deliver executive-level knowledge and accountability to several SMBs, so companies do not have to incur the cost of a full-time expert’s compensation.

Compliance guarantees

Most regulations and standards, including ISO 27001, HIPAA, GLBA, and GDPR, require organizations to have qualified professionals responsible for managing InfoSec and Compliance programs. Hiring a vCISO addresses this requirement. 

Lower costs and the likelihood of a data breach

Qualified security leadership is a proven way to reduce the costs and likelihood of a data breach. Understanding and following the cyber security program, maintaining compliance, and managing cybersecurity risks lessen the likelihood and severity of potential data breaches.

They’re globally aware and forward-looking

Unlike in-office CISOs, who work within one organization’s environment, vCISOs provide a good view of how to navigate the treacherous threat landscape. They will offer valuable advice to make the security decisions necessary to protect your organization. Hiring a vCISO, you don’t get one executive, you get access to the global cybersecurity community.

Choosing Your vCISO

When looking for an experienced vCISO make sure you are weighing the candidate correctly by interviewing them as if they are going to be the full-time CISO. vCISOs must suit your company’s industry, size, and experience. Equally, they should match your company culture. You need to trust they can communicate in your business’s language how they will balance your risk acceptance, develop a business continuity plan, and make your business compliant with all necessary laws and regulations. 

Start with a short contract to let your vCISO evaluate the situation within your company. The more information you can provide — the faster they will provide value. Both vCISO and CISO will have a long list of things to be prioritized, and it will take time for the organization to execute them.

Finally, like any executive, a vCISO must be seen as an authoritative leader within the organization. If they are seen as temporary consultants, they will not be able to have a meaningful impact on your company. 

If some questions regarding the vCISO services remain unanswered, please, contact our Planet 9 team, and we’ll be happy to assist!



Phone:  888-437-3646


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