What is a Virtual CISO

And when is the right time to hire one?

Working from home, bring your own device, multiple cloud services, edge computing, distributed networks and data stores, off-the-shelf hacking tools, limited budgets, and human error – all cyber security challenges faced by businesses and organisations. And all need specialist expertise.

In this article you’ll learn:

-          What a virtual CISO (vCISO) is.

-          The benefits of hiring a vCISO.

-          What to look for when hiring a vCISO.

-          If you need a vCISO.

What is a Virtual CISO?

We look at what is a virtual CISO or vCISO is. It stands for 'Virtual Chief Information Security Officer'.

A vCISO helps organisations with developing and managing the organisation’s cyber security policies, practices and architecture.

What does a CISO do?

A CISO is responsible for all aspects of cyber security in an organisation. From how employees use their emails, to which websites they can visit, to how the company stores sensitive data.

Benefits of hiring a vCISO

When looking to hire vciso there are some impactful advantages. 

These include, among others:

Expert cyber security knowledge

Because vCISO service providers have a whole team of people at their disposal, they are often better able to keep up with new security threats by spreading the burden across the team, instead of relying on one person to attempt to learn about every single threat type.

And, because a vCISO has more than likely implemented a broad range of information security programs and in a wide spectrum of industries, it gives them a wide range of expertise to apply to your company or organisation.


Simple – a vCISO avoids the expenses and overheads of employing an expensive CISO in-house full-time. Instead, with a vCISO, you only pay for the services and time used. It becomes a lower financial barrier to gaining access to experienced advisors and security services.


The vCISO works as a consultant, who can work from just about anywhere, so this gives an organisation flexible access to more potential candidates.

You also get the flexibility of using an on-demand service with a vCISO, or you can set up a retainer for a certain number of hours or hire on a project basis.

Objective independence

As a vCISO is an external advisor to your organisation, they can provide independent objective feedback and advice on current risks and security. They don’t carry any office politics baggage or bias.

Strengthens the in-house IT team

A virtual information security officer can strengthen your in-house IT team, giving the team focus, structure and a way forward. Conversely, the vCISO should integrate, utilise, develop and, to a certain extent, rely on any existing team.

The vCISO can also coach and support an existing in-house CISO, or help with board-level communications if that isn’t a strength of the in-house CISO. They can help champion the existing IT team and help ensure they get the time and resources they need.

What to look for when hiring a vCISO

But how do you know what quality of vCISO you’re getting?

How do you know they’ll deliver what they say they will?

Well, you need to have a clear definition of what you need the vCISO to do, and then talk to those vCISOs that seem to fit skill and knowledge-wise.

Like any search for a consultant or service, ask around the industry for recommendations.

Look for wider industry experience and consider the type of vCISO service your organisation requires, or if you require more than one, for example.

You may need to balance what is best for your business and what is ideal for security, understanding the risks involved. To this end, you need to look for a vCISO that’s experienced in shifting between cyber security cultures, as they’ll often be working with several clients at once.

Traditionally from a technical background, today’s CISOs also need to talk board members’ language, not just tech speak. They need board-level experience, persuasive communication skills and broad business experience. They need to be aware of wider business operations and business systems. 

Do you need a vCISO?

Let’s look at a few signs that may indicate engaging with a vCISO is a good fit for your organisation.

-          Your business has sensitive data that you’re serious about keeping safe and secure.

-          You’re on a limited budget. A vCISO can be 30%-40% of a full-time, in-house CISO.

-          You have some specific information security tasks, e.g., classifying data, developing procedures and policies, risk assessments, etc.

-          You require specific skill sets. Finding the right experience and skillset is much easier with a vCISO as they often work as part of a larger consulting team.

-          Are you having to train or headhunt a new CISO? This can take time, leaving your cyber security issues unaddressed. Using a cloud virtual CISO means your organisation can have continuous critical cyber security support when needed.

-          Do you want a broad range of cyber security expertise? As noted above, many vCISOs are part of a dedicated team, which provides a wider pool of knowledge, which can only be a good thing for your cyber protection.

How we can help.

Would you like to find out more about vCISOs and how they provide high-level cyber security expertise to all businesses, however large or small?

Give us a call at BlueFort Security on 01252 917000, email enquiries@bluefort.com or use our contact form.

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