June 20, 2023

How to Hire a vCISO

We explore the types of vCISOs in terms of specialty and focus.

How to Hire a vCISO

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If you do not know what a vCISO or a fractional CISO is, then the standard definition is a cybersecurity expert with significant experience, perhaps a former CISO, who now offers their services on a part-time, freelancer basis to companies in need of cybersecurity support. While helpful, you probably already knew that or you would not be here.

So, in order for you to choose a vCISO for your business, I thought I would give you some pointers that I have learned in talking to vCISOs.

First, do you know the purpose of hiring a vCISO? Are you looking to get proactive with your cybersecurity program? Do you want a security audit and corresponding report to show to your customers and you don't have the bandwidth to prepare and handle it internally? Or is your current security team under staffed?

Once you know your purpose for hiring a vCISO, that purpose determines the vCISO you will choose.

You see, vCISOs vary greatly.

First, you have an independent vCISO consultant who is running their services themselves. They are not really doing any marketing of their business and you may be introduced to them through word of mouth. As a single member vCISO, their rates are likely a little lower (because they don't have any overhead) and they may offer flat fee pricing or on an hourly basis depending on what you need. They can handle quite a lot of different tasks at the same time and are flexible because of that.

Second, you have your large vCISO businesses where they employ many vCISOs and also have other supporting staff members. They distinguish their vCISO employees from other staff because the vCISOs either have security certifications or significant experience. The vCISOs will be highly vetted and have gone through background checks. Their rates will be higher because now you have overhead costs and marketing costs that are built into the pricing. They may also charge on a flat fee basis or on a tiered basis. However, they also have the advantage of internal peer support, which may be valuable to you in case you run into a problem that the vCISO has not experienced before. Finally, these businesses have relationships with tangential cybersecurity businesses, like MSPs.

And, finally, you have your vCISO unit within a very large company, like E&Y or Deloitte. These vCISOs are much like the one above, except that instead of having relationships with tangential cybersecurity businesses, they also have relationships with accountants and other types of consultancies within the same organization. These vCISOs probably work with very large enterprise companies and staff teams on their client accounts rather than a single vCISO individual. They may even have thresholds where they don't work with clients below a certain size, which probably means their pricing is on the higher end. It isn't always the case, but still. Finally, if you are in a highly regulated industry, you may want to work with one of these vCISO businesses because of the weight their reputation carries, especially with regulators.

No matter which vCISO is right for you, it's important to work with someone who you trust because you will likely be working with this person for a very long time.

ClearOPS works with all of the above types of vCISOs and we are happy to get on the phone with you and give you a mostly unbaised opinion of which vCISO is best for you. When I say mostly unbiased, it is because we really enjoy working with vCISOs and we may have a few people who are our favorites. 🙂

You're the best, Caroline

About the author

I really enjoy helping people. I am terrible at receiving help.

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