A good security leader, whether a permanent Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) or an on-demand virtual CISO (vCISO) can help substantially improve your security capability.  They will provide the direction and ownership for security activities, offer guidance, expertise and solutions, and can help you to plan ahead and better manage your security risk.

But what are the signs that it’s the right time for your organisation to hire a CISO or outsourced security leader?

And how will they help you?

Below are 5 signs that indicate you might benefit from security leadership:

1. Everything needs fixing.  You know you have unacceptable levels of security risk - perhaps you’ve recently experienced an incident or completed an internal security assessment - but the list of issues, or recommendations to action, is overwhelming and there is no clear plan of where to start.


What will a CISO do? A CISO will help you to quickly assess your security posture and prioritise actions in relation to risk.  They will bring expertise and knowledge of solutions to implement ‘quick win’ remediation activities and plan strategic transformation programmes, so you can focus investments and make progress in the areas where you need it most.

2. Compliance is your nemesis.  Regulation and compliance are fundamental components to your ongoing business operations, be it demonstrating your controls to maintain certifications or responding to the growing number of customer audits and compliance questionnaires. More often than not, this process is painful and is usually achieved at the last minute.

How would a CISO help? CISOs will help to clarify requirements and establish control frameworks to ensure your organisation’s legal and regulatory obligations can be met.  They will provide the mechanisms to monitor and report security compliance, helping you to keep the auditors at bay, respond quickly to evidence requests, and ensure audit activities become significantly less arduous.

3. Unpredictable security requirements.  Requests for support and investment in security are often unplanned and reactive to incidents, making it difficult for you to manage your budget and effectively prioritise across competing demands.

What difference would a CISO make? A CISO will help you to identify and plan the required security activities and associated expenditure.  Importantly, they will build the supporting business case, with expected costs and return on investment, so that you can make informed investment decisions and prioritise budgets.

4. Security sounds too technical.  Your existing security resource(s) tend to speak ‘techie’, with a big lump of jargon.  They might be advocating the right things but it’s not intelligible to the business as it does not talk to organisational priorities.

Aren’t CISOs technical too? Many CISOs come from a technical background, but they will translate security risks into language the business can understand.  A CISO will align security to the needs and priorities of the business and will communicate to reduce the ‘fear, uncertainty and doubt’ that often surrounds security.

5. You don’t have an incident response plan.  What exactly would you do when the breach occurs? You have a team of dedicated and motivated people, but you’re not sure exactly what it is they would do and when.  Security incidents are consuming more time.   All organisations have security incidents, but if they are increasing in frequency or taking more time to resolve it may be time to act.

Is a CISO a silver bullet? A CISO will not eradicate risk, and won’t prevent all incidents, but they will ensure your organisation learns from them to prevent similar reoccurrences and is better equipped to deal with them when they happen.  CISOs will look ahead and work to ensure readiness for dealing with an incident.   They will lead security incident management tabletop exercises to ensure roles and responsibilities are clear and regulatory and legal obligations can be met in the event an incident does occur.

Start written on rural road

It can be a long and complex road to find the perfect CISO for your business, so if the above points resonate with you it might be time to get started.

Security leadership for your organisation

Savanti has a team of experienced security experts.  If you have budgetary constraints or limited security resources, a permanent CISO may not be the answer for you, but a dedicated, virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO) could work very effectively.  

This expert will still support your information security activities as a CISO would, but in a proportionate way, offering a tailored service specialising in the wide variety of threats that you face, all managed by Savanti.  

For more information about Savanti's virtual CISO consulting services, please provide your details below