The Strategic Value of a Virtual CISO (vCISO) for Modern Businesses

Learn how working with a vCISO can transform your cybersecurity resilience and posture, for a fraction of the cost.


In a world where cyberattacks happen daily, impacting businesses and organizations of all sizes, security leadership is invaluable. However, building out an effective security program and employing a full-time Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is not easy or affordable for most businesses.

That’s where the concept of a Virtual CISO (vCISO) comes in. A vCISO offers the strategic oversight and guidance necessary to protect your organization from cyber threats without the financial burden of a full-time executive. 

In this guide, we will explore the role of a vCISO in modern businesses, the key benefits they bring, and share how Defensible’s vCISO offering is helping clients to manage their cybersecurity risk.

What does a vCISO do?

Virtual CISOs are security experts who work as contractors, providing cybersecurity leadership and strategic guidance to organizations without the need for a full-time, in-house executive.

The vCISO has the same responsibilities and functions as a traditional CISO but operates remotely and on a flexible, often part-time basis. The level of involvement typically depends on the client’s size, specific risks, and budget. 

With years of experience as a cybersecurity professional and leader, the vCISO has the knowledge and skills to help and advise businesses on developing and implementing robust security policies, managing risk, ensuring compliance with regulations, responding to incidents, and enhancing overall cybersecurity posture.

The strategic value of a vCISO

With the increase of sophisticated cyberattacks and the rapidly changing threat landscape, decision-making regarding cybersecurity can have a big impact on an organization’s resilience, reputation, and financial stability. 

Hiring a vCISO on an as-needed basis allows businesses to scale their security efforts up or down as needed. Here are some other strategic benefits of a vCISO:

  • Navigating compliance: Regulations are emerging and changing frequently, which can be complex to navigate without expert guidance. Non-compliance can lead to hefty fines, so someone with years of experience in maintaining compliance across various regulations, including SOC2, GDPR, and PCI, can streamline the compliance process and provide the assurance that your company is meeting all legal and regulatory requirements effectively.
  • Smart security investments: A vCISO knows the ins and outs of the industry and the services available to address security gaps. They will take over relationships with MSPs and MSSPs to ensure all obligations are being met and that you’re not receiving unneeded services or overpaying. After analyzing your threat surface, they will also suggest an appropriate defense architecture and help you shape an MSP’s plan, maximizing your ROI. 
  • Cultivating a security-first culture: The human factor is the number one cause of security incidents. vCISOs help plan regular security awareness training programs to ensure employees understand and know how to react to the most pressing threats. This promotes the use of security best practices throughout the organization, reducing the risk of human error and insider threats.

To get the most out of a vCISO partnership and create an effective cybersecurity program, it’s important to align their efforts with those of key executives, including the overall strategy and business initiatives. Defensible vCISOs are trusted advisors to an organization's leadership, ownership, and boards of directors, as well as management and staff. Let’s see a real example of a success story from Defensible’s vCISO services.

Virtual CISO success story with Defensible

The challenge

Industrial Defender faced the challenge of rebuilding its cybersecurity program from the ground up after being acquired by a private equity firm. After the acquisition, Industrial Defender needed to quickly re-establish its cybersecurity program to safeguard its extensive client base and accurately respond to third-party vendor due diligence questionnaires. 

The solution

Defensible Technology stepped in to provide Virtual CISO services and ongoing vulnerability monitoring, leading to a comprehensive and robust cybersecurity program that protects Industrial Defender’s internal assets and its critical infrastructure clients.

Defensible Technology, led by CEO Steve Doty, focused on creating comprehensive documentation, aligning client responses with new security policies, and restructuring technical procedures to enhance security measures.

Defensible's ongoing services also include regular internal and external vulnerability scans with detailed monthly reports and security awareness training programs to prepare employees for phishing attempts and other security threats. This proactive approach ensured complete coverage of cybersecurity needs through collaboration with managed service providers and tailored in-house solutions. 

The outcome

As a result, Industrial Defender successfully rebuilt and strengthened its cybersecurity program, ensuring robust protection for its operations and clients.

You can find out more details from this case study here.

Partner with Defensible today

Defensible’s vCISO+ services provide organizations with a virtual CISO plus the support of a completely outsourced cybersecurity team-as-a-service, with subject matter expertise in network security, application security, digital forensics, general IT, and more.

Every business needs the experience and leadership of a CISO to help plan strategically for security, implement tactical security and response initiatives, and gain vital executive buy-in for security. A Defensible vCISO brings this leadership to your business on a flexible cost basis, no matter where you are located.

To learn more about how vCISO services from Defensible can provide the security expertise and guidance your business needs, contact us today.