The Expanding Role of the Virtual CSO and How to Choose the Right One

A managed security service provider (MSSP) remotely monitors and manages your security infrastructure — firewall, intrusion detection system, antivirus software, etc. The idea is that outsourcing these tasks to a team of security experts is far more effective and cost-efficient than hiring, training and retaining in-house security personnel. MSSPs will sometimes include virtual chief security officer (vCSO) services in their offerings. But why would you need a CSO in the first place?

Traditionally, the CSO has been charged with developing and implementing an IT security strategy. However, the role of the CSO has been expanded and elevated in recent years as a result of the increased complexity of IT security and its importance to an organization.No longer confined to the data center, the CSO has board-level responsibilities and is a critical voice in risk reduction strategies. Budgets, compliance, user training, governance, data privacy, security procedures and best practices, and strategic security planning are all part of the CSO’s job description.

From a technological perspective, simple perimeter security strategies have been replaced by multilayered security that must account for the network, business applications and data, cloud environments, mobile, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and more. The CSO must integrate security tools and make sure that security policies are enforced uniformly across the organization. Systems are regularly audited to ensure compliance. Because the focus is on proactive detection and prevention of attacks, the CSO has to stay on top of a constantly changing threat landscape.

The expanding role of the CSO in terms of both IT security management and overall risk reduction has led more organizations to add this executive role. Filling that position is another matter, however. Qualified CSOs are in high demand and command significant salaries. That’s why it usually makes sense to forego the traditional CSO in favor of a vCSO.

Essentially, a vCSO is an outsourced, on-demand version of the traditional CSO. A vCSO gives you access to enterprise-level security expertise and talent but with the flexibility to pay only for those services you need.A vCSO can help you implement or update security policies and strategies, procure and deploy new tools, perform risk and vulnerability assessments, navigate new compliance requirements, and develop user training materials.

When looking for vCSO services, make sure they have the expertise and ability to support both technological and strategic initiatives.A vCSO who’s a technical wiz won’t be effective if he or she can’t communicate risk and security strategies to senior executives and board members. Also, the ability to understand business processes and goals and align security and business strategies is critical.

Make sure you clearly identify the vCSO’s capabilities and qualifications. Establish a model for engagement between the vCSO and your team that enables seamless collaboration and problem solving, and verify that the vCSO is able and willing to follow that model.

SSD takes a team approach to managed IT services. The vCSO is a key member of that team who oversees all security activities and reports to the chief technology officer, who coordinates the delivery of services. Let us show you how our team provides the consulting services and responsiveness you demand to keep your IT environment secure.