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Cybersecurity Consulting

What Is the Role of a vCISO in Cybersecurity?

May 18, 2023

8 minutes

vciso cybersecurity professional at computer

The world of cybersecurity is always changing, and organizations may have difficulty keeping up with the complexities. Learning about the different types of cybersecurity professionals who can help them often leaves business leaders asking “what is a vCISO”?

For businesses who want to navigate these waters, having an experienced expert can be the difference between establishing a strong cybersecurity foundation and leaving your information vulnerable to hackers. This is where a virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO) can help.

Read on to learn more about the role a vCISO plays in information security and why businesses should enlist their help when establishing or upgrading their digital defenses.

If you want to get up to date on the current cybersecurity landscape before meeting with a vCISO who can guide your organization in the right direction, access DOT Security’s guide, The State of Cybersecurity for Small Businesses.

A woman working at a desk surrounded by text bubbles describing what a vCISO does

What Is a vCISO?

A vCISO is a person who provides expertise and guidance to businesses by developing information security plans reduce risk. When they work with a managed security service provider (MSSP) and have the ability to connect clients to additional cybersecurity resources, this is also known as CISO as a Service.

They help build security strategies, manage implementation, establish security protocols and standards, and have a full understanding of an organization’s complete cybersecurity system.

Some, but not all, of their duties include:

  • Information security planning and management
  • Organization-wide security structuring
  • Updating and enhancing cybersecurity strategies based on trends and data
  • Coordinating a full cybersecurity team
  • Knowing and using compliance knowledge
  • Performing vulnerability assessments


What is the difference between a vCISO and a CISO? It comes down to the organization that employs them. A Chief Information Security Officer is someone you hire in-house as a member of your executive leadership team, while a virtual Chief Information Security Officer works for a MSSP or similar organization.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both positions. While an in-house CISO can give you their undivided attention, their salary alone is much more expensive, and they don’t come with a full team of professionals to implement their suggestions.

A virtual Chief Information Security Officer means outsourcing your cybersecurity, but is also much more affordable. Plus, when you’re working with a vCISO’s organization, you get access to all of the other security specialists there who can monitor your network and remediate threats.

What Does a vCISO Do?

A vCISO’s role in a cybersecurity team is to think ahead and proactively strategize adaptations to a business’ cybersecurity system to handle new threats and trends. They manage cybersecurity personnel like analysts, engineers, and developers.

At the same time, they maintain constant contact with businesses to relay their thoughts on system status, trends in data, consultations on updates and enhancements, and more.

When working with a managed security services provider (MSSP) like DOT Security, a vCISO acts as a client’s point of contact for questions, feedback, and reporting.

Why It’s Important to Have an Assigned Virtual Chief Information Security Officer

Having a dedicated expert in cybersecurity is an invaluable asset to businesses looking to strengthen their cybersecurity standing with new tools, technologies, and strategies. It’s so important to have a strong cybersecurity posture because a single data breach can have a massive, lasting impact on your company.

Not only can being hacked lead to downtime, loss of money, and reduced customer trust in the short term, but, as the digital age matures, it’s becoming clear that there are substantial long-term effects of a cyberattck as well. These can include increased cost of doing business, higher costs passed on to consumers, and reduced credit rating, making it more difficult to secure financing in the future.

Because information security is such a complex, fast-changing industry, it’s important to have someone to lean on who always knows the latest trends in cyberattacks and protections to help you avoid those outcomes.

But on top of avoiding negative consequences, having a vCISO who can do this for you also provides a number of benefits to businesses, including:

Consistent Access to Cybersecurity Leadership

Cybersecurity is uncharted territory for many organizations. Most don’t know what they need or where to start. But in a field where there are many more open positions than there are experts to fill them, it’s difficult for businesses to get the expertise they need.

Outside of a vCISO, organizations have two options: hire such an expert in-house, or work on a one-off basis with a cybersecurity consultant. But these choices can be expensive, inconsistent, or both.

Having a vCISO as a part of your team means constant and reliable access to cybersecurity leadership that helps businesses decide on strategies, protocols, objectives, projects, and more for strengthening security systems.

Real-Time Expert Consultations

Adaptation is key for businesses to maintain cybersecurity that can continually thwart new and ever-evolving attacks from hackers.

A vCISO is adept at staying current on what hackers are doing. With that knowledge, they can provide real-time feedback to businesses to update and enhance older systems and meet new threats head on.

It’s not just about meeting with a cybersecurity specialist when you want to. A vCISO also proactively reaches out to you when something comes up before you even realize you need them. And then provides guidance through any new developments, positive or negative.

In Conclusion

A vCISO is the conductor of a strong cybersecurity machine. Through training, roadmapping, and staying up to date on developments in cybersecurity, a vCISO can provide the guidance companies need. By working through an MSSP, they have access to the tools and specialists required to carry out their suggestions.

In short, working with a vCISO allows you to lead your organization into a more secure future.

Explore the current cybersecurity landscape to see what a vCISO would be considering today and how it can affect your business by downloading DOT Security’s report, The State of Cybersecurity for Small Businesses.