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Cyber Security

Big data is a big trend throughout the world. According to recent data, 97.2% of organisations are investing in big data right now. While having access to so much data is advantageous, it also presents some pressing concerns for businesses. Primarily, you will be at risk of more cybersecurity issues than ever before. With more data circulating around, cybercriminals are always keen to get involved and make a breach.  

The stats back this up! One statistic from 2019 found that data breaches exposed 4.1 billion records in the first half of the year alone. It’s a serious problem, which is why every company needs to have a solution in place. You need to mitigate digital threats – which is where a CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) comes into play.  

All companies should have a CISO, but do they need to be an in-house hire? This is a big concern for lots of companies that want to improve cybersecurity measures but don’t know how to go about it. The alternative is a vCISO (Virtual Chief Information Security Office) – but which is better? We’ve analysed both positions to come up with some key talking points for you to consider.  

In-house CISOs are very expensive 

In the UK, the average salary for a CISO is a considerable £127,532 a year. This is the base pay, so that doesn’t consider the wages for an experienced CISO. Ideally, you want someone with plenty of experience as it ensures they can protect your business from digital threats.  

Already, you’re dealing with a lot of money. Then, factor in the additional costs of employee benefits and hiring a CISO. It all adds up to make an in-house CISO unrealistic for many small businesses. As a result, lots of companies will forego a CISO and remain unprotected. Clearly, this is not a smart idea as there are many types of cyberattacks out there.  

By comparison, a vCISO is a lot more affordable. Your business pays a set fee every month for an ongoing service. There are no benefits to pay, and you don’t have to worry about paying for additional training. With in-house CISOs, they require constant training to maintain their knowledge and keep up with the ever-changing industry regulations in the information technology sector. As their employer, you’re responsible for paying for all of this.  

So, from a financial perspective, a virtual Chief Information Security Officer is more cost-effective.  

A vCISO stays with you for as long as you want 

A virtual CISO will be working as an independent consultant for your business. This means they manage your information technology security operations from a virtual location. The strange thing about this arrangement is that you are their client. They offer these services to you, and you pay them. As such, they’re highly unlikely to ever cancel the contract and work with someone else. In fact, most vCISOs are working for numerous companies at once anyway.  

Why does this matter? Well, consider what an in-house CISO is to your business. They’re full-time employees with the freedom to leave whenever they want. If a better job offer comes in, they can move to a different company. This means you’re back to square one without a CISO. You must go back through the hiring process to find a replacement.  

The point is that working with a vCISO offers more security than hiring an in-house one. There’s no risk of your virtual chief security expert leaving you for someone else. It’s all under your control – if you wanted to cancel the contract and hire an in-house CISO or find a different provider, you could! 

Going virtual saves time 

Another vital point to raise is the time spent hiring a CISO. When you hire an in-house employee, you have to go through a detailed process. Your company will create the position, advertise it, pour through the candidates, run interviews, and come to a decision.  

Incredibly, it took an average of 65 days to fill a tech vacancy in the UK last year. Effectively, your business could go for two months without having a CISO in place. This presents significant cybersecurity risks as it leaves your systems vulnerable. Things look even worse when you consider the ease with which a vCISO can be hired.  

Typically, the process looks like this: 

  • Research the various options available  
  • Shortlist your favourites 
  • Receive consultation and quote for the services 
  • Pick whichever option you like the best 

Again, the ball is in your court as you get to decide who you work with. It can all be completed in the space of a week or two if you really knuckle down and get the ball rolling. Thus, a vCISO can save lots of time during the hiring process.  

Improved flexibility 

An underrated feature of a virtual Chief Information Security Officer is that they provide excellent business flexibility. If your company starts to grow, your in-house CISO may be unable to handle the additional workload. You have more data than ever before, meaning more digital threats to be worried about. It can be too much for them, and your business will have to expand the team and hire some help.  

With a vCISO, you just need to alter the service arrangements. It’s usually a simple case of paying to upgrade the service, so it accommodates your new growth. This is done without needing to hire any new people or worry about if your business can handle the growth.  

Conclusion: In-house CISO vs Virtual CISO 

Realistically, a vCISO provides a host of benefits that an in-house one can’t compete with. A virtual service is always more cost-effective, and you get more flexibility. In-house CISOs are still valuable for some organisations. If you can afford the costs, it’s beneficial to have someone in-house that you can communicate with directly. They may also have fewer distractions as a vCISO could provide consultancy services for hundreds of different clients.  

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which option is best for your business. Generally, small businesses will opt for a vCISO because of the costs and convenience. Weigh up the pros and cons of both before making a decision. 


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