How Much Does a vCISO Cost?

By hiring a vCISO, businesses expect to cover all their information security and compliance needs. Learn how much a vCISO costs depending on your business needs.

Information Security is critical for any business. With the increasing number of cyber attacks, companies raise their investments in services like vCISOs to safeguard their digital assets and comply with regulations. vCISO stands for virtual Chief Information Security Officer, a consulting service that provides part-time or interim help in managing information security and compliance programs to businesses that lack internal resources with sufficient expertise or do not have a need for a full-time CISO.

In this article, we will explore how much a vCISO costs compared to a full-time CISO and help you determine which option is best suited for your organization. So, whether you’re a startup or a large business, read on to find out which option is right for you.

 How much does a vCISO cost?

The median base salary for a ten-year-experienced CISO in California, U.S., is $161,959 per year, according to Glassdoor. However, the actual cost to the company can reach $400,000 or more, depending on the company’s size, industry, and location. In addition to the salary, other costs are associated with hiring a full-time CISO. These include benefits such as health insurance, bonuses, equity, retirement plans, and paid time off. Companies may also need to provide office space and equipment, as well as cover expenses for professional training and certifications.

While a full-time CISO can provide uninterrupted attention to the company’s Information Security Program, the cost can be prohibitive for smaller businesses. This is where vCISO service providers can offer a more cost-effective solution. Depending on the company’s needs, vCISO services can cost between $2,500 – 30,000 per month. Unlike a full-time CISO, a vCISO is not a permanent employee but is contracted for a period of time or until a specific project is completed. Have some information security or compliance challenges? – vCISO can solve them on a contractual basis or provide ongoing management of the Information Security Program over several years. 

​​Factors to consider when hiring a vCISO

One of the primary things that raise the vCISO cost for your business is your company’s size. Larger organizations with more complex cybersecurity needs may require a higher level of expertise and more hours of work, which can increase the cost of a vCISO. 

Another factor that can impact the vCISO cost is the level of experience required. A vCISO with more experience and specialized industry knowledge will cost more than a less experienced one. 

Finally, Information Security management is a 24/7 job. vCISOs may need to mitigate incidents during off-hours and weekends or have late-night meetings with off-shore personnel. These hours typically cost more than the regular working hours.  

What does a vCISO do?

Companies looking for a vCISO expect to hire an expert who can protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the information assets, work with executive management on the strategy, and establish and maintain a corporate-wide Information Security management program. Apart from this, an effective vCISO should:

  • Establish corporate policies and implement information security strategies and threat management plans.
  • Chair appropriate committees comprised of executive leaders, including Legal, Compliance, Audit, HR, Privacy, and Business Unit Information Risk officers, to direct the planning and implementation of enterprise IT system and business operation defenses against security breaches and vulnerability issues.
  • Direct the design and deployment of strategic security controls to meet the evolving risks faced by the company’s global digital ecosystem. This may include IoT monitoring and control, asset discovery and enterprise security assurance, cloud access security, application security controls, zero trust-related solutions, and enterprise data protection programs.
  • Manage internal and third-party risk management processes.
  • Ensure security programs comply with relevant laws, regulations, and contracts to minimize compliance gaps and audit findings.
  • Implement and manage a systems vulnerability management process. 
  • Develop and implement security awareness training programs.
  • Stay informed of current security trends and technologies.

vCISO vs CISO: equal expertise at a lower cost to your business

While vCISO’s flexibility makes them a cost-effective option for small and medium businesses, vCISO services may also be beneficial for larger companies. Having an in-house CISO, organizations entirely rely on their knowledge and expertise that are generally limited to their experience. In contrast, vCISO service providers enable organizations with access to a network of security experts who have worked in different environments. 

As such, by hiring a vCISO, organizations are buying access to the combined knowledge of several professionals with diverse backgrounds.  For example, a full-time CISO would often contract with a vCISO service provider for help during pick activity times or to address new challenges. This may include assistance with annual audits, risk assessments, or understanding a new regulation. 

How can Planet 9 Help?

Planet 9 employs seasoned professionals with years of experience working in various private industries, including healthcare, e-commerce, finance, software development, manufacturing, and technology. Our vCISO services can help organizations develop and implement (or improve existing) information security and compliance programs, handle security incidents, conduct security risk assessments and compliance evaluations, manage security teams, and perform other responsibilities.

Feel free to contact the Planet 9 team for help with vCISO services for your business. We’ll be happy to assist!



Phone:  888-437-3646

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