vCIO vs. vCISO: Which Is Right for Your Business?

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What do Twitter, Uber, and U.S. airport websites have in common? Each faced a significant cyberattack in 2022, with attackers employing tactics like social engineering, DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks, and exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities.

Businesses of all sizes are impacted by everchanging cybersecurity challenges. Yet cybersecurity is only one piece of the information technology (IT) puzzle. From adapting to the needs of the modern remote or hybrid workplace to moving your IT operations to the cloud, many organizations lack the internal resources needed to navigate such complex IT environments.

If the role of the CIO and/or CISO is embedded into another position within your organization, you may be actually be putting your organization at risk. Having a person with the expertise to identify the areas in need of improvement for technology and security can save waste of hard earned business investment dollars and a lot of potential headache.

Let me explain how having the right technology and security solutions can reduce downtime, increase the productivity of users, and reduce the potential business disruption caused by ineffective solutions or worse, a cybercrime incident. The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) states implementing a rapid, effective cyber incident detection, response, and prevention is a critical facet of ensuring our national security. With that said, it is the responsibility of every organization to understand their current vulnerabilities and weaknesses caused by their technology infrastructure and act to reduce the negative impact to your businesses long-term goals.

  • The average cost of a ransomware attack is projected to reach $11.5 million by 2023. (CybersecurityVentures).
    • SOLUTION: If you do not have the expertise to successfully manage your IT and cybersecurity, find a business partner to assist you.
      • Sikich is Elite Top Ranked 150 MSP Partner by CRN
  • The average cost of a data breach is projected to reach $4.2 million by 2023 (IBM).
    • SOLUTION: IT is an investment, not an expense. Choose to invest in prevention or pay in recovery costs.
      • Sikich is a Security Mitigation Expert
  • 91% of cyber attacks begin with a spear-phishing email (KnowBe4).
    • SOLUTION: Train your staff regularly on cybersecurity
      • KnowBe4 is a Sikich Strategic Partner
  • Over 60% of businesses that experience a cyber breach close their doors within six months (National Cyber Security Alliance).
    • SOLUTION: Do you have Incident Response Plan & when was the last time you tested it?
      • Sikich has a large team of experts ready to build and support all your Response Plan needs
  • 37% of organizations who paid off a ransomware attack still did not recover their encrypted data (Sophos).
    • SOLUTION: Also considering, in the same report, the average cost of remediating a ransomware attack in the previous year was $1.85 million, this is a clear call for businesses to maximize their efforts in ransomware protection, rather than recovery.
      • Sikich has a full suite of solutions to maximum the efforts for protection
  • 53% of companies have experienced a third-party data breach in the past year (Ponemon Institute).
    • SOLUTION: 3rd party assessments can identify your cybersecurity strengths and weaknesses. Take advantage of the opportunity before the cyber threat actors do.
      • Sikich provides CMMC and third-party services to companies of all sizes including fortune 500 companies

What is a vCIO?

A vCIO, or virtual Chief Information Officer, is a third-party person or organization that oversees a a company’s IT infrastructure and provides technology strategy consultation. The goals of a vCIO may include:

  • Helping companies transform tech initiatives through cutting-edge insights and best practices
  • Working with executives to translate business strategy into a technology roadmap
  • Implementing new software and migrating IT operations to the cloud
  • Reviewing and recommending technology vendors
  • Drawing on technical and industry expertise to innovate and optimize clients’ processes

Many businesses call on this type of virtual managed IT service provider instead of an in-house Chief Information Officer because it’s more cost-effective. Additionally, in some cases, the vCIO will work in tandem with a virtual cybersecurity expert called a vCISO.

What is a vCISO?

A vCISO, or virtual Chief Information Security Officer, is “an outsourced security practitioner or provider who offers their time and insight to an organization on an ongoing basis, usually part-time and remotely.”

A remote CISO will ensure your security measures meet best practices, help you choose security tools, provide security awareness training to staff, provide security updates to board members and consult your executive team.

Because a vCISO addresses cybersecurity-focused needs, they may not be used as much or as frequently as a vCIO. Still, a vCISO plays a crucial role in managing your security infrastructure and security team, performing consistent risk assessments, and more.

What Are the Benefits of a vCIO and a vCISO?

Virtual Chief Information and Information Security Officers provide similar benefits, depending on the needs of your business.

As the name suggests, a vCISO helps businesses navigate cybersecurity issues. This may include helping prevent cyberattacks, developing strategies to combat breaches, and evaluating the impact of a threat or attack.

On the other hand, the role of a vCIO is more general. Instead of focusing solely on a business’s security strategy, a virtual Chief Information Officer overlooks the entire IT framework, offering expert consultation about intellectual property protection, compliance, digital transformation, and more.

In turn, the question is not whether your business must choose between a CIO and a CISO. To implement and maintain a robust technology suite, you’ll likely need the services of one or both of these experts. Instead, it’s key to understand the benefits of working with a virtual IT professional versus hiring an in-house team member.

A virtual technology executive is generally favored by small to mid-sized businesses, as they’re a fraction of the price of a full-time employee’s salary, benefits, and other hidden costs.

Expenses aside, a vCIO or vCISO can be extremely beneficial because they likely have years or decades of experience successfully helping clients keep all their tech running smoothly. Not only that, but because this professional has multiple clients, often in the same industry, they’re able to maintain a deep understanding of trends and threats affecting your vertical.

Another benefit of virtual IT executives is that they’re typically backed by experienced managed services provider (MSP) teams. An MSP augments your current team to ensure your business is getting the most out of the technology it uses to, ultimately, help you serve customers better.

The team of seasoned professionals at Sikich offers managed IT services to growing businesses that want to use technology to manage costs, improve the customer experience, operate more efficiently, keep cybersecurity threats at bay and more.

Reach Out to Sikich for Virtual Managed IT Services

A past client and the CFO of Arcus Hunting said this of our managed services: “Having Sikich who is really sitting there as a strategic partner, as your IT department, as our virtual CIO and all the services that come under that, and providing us input on how we can make our company better is the true partnership that I look for and that other CFOs and CEOs would look for.”

Your business doesn’t have to dedicate a six-figure salary to an in-house information security professional to keep its tech suite running like a well-oiled machine. Instead, consider a virtual technology liaison who can provide expert IT consultation to help you achieve your desired results within your timeframe and budget.

Partner with Sikich today and gain a virtual technology executive who’s just as invested in your business’s success as you are.

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.


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