1 reason to choose CISO as a Service vs hiring one: we are more efficient!

Our mission: allow smaller companies to experience quality only banks and large organizations could afford! Want to work with the CISO of a nuclear power plant and a bank at the same time?
Want the highest possible level of service? You have come to the right place!

3x the results of a regular CISO with our CISO Service

Clear objectives for 12 months: we will raise your security maturity in 1 year, Guaranteed

14 areas to work on
12 months
1 CISO as a Service

Every month you receive a report on the progress of each of the 14 areas of security maturity being worked on, part of your Information Security Program that we will build for you after performing an Information Security Assessment

Password & Access Management

How are passwords and access management handled? Do people reuse simple passwords? Do you know who has access to what and why, at any time? Can hackers steal employee passwords easily?
Let's find out!

Attack Mitigation

We check for mitigation controls for 17 types of cyber attacks: account compromise, unauthorized access, ransomware, network intrusions, malware infections, sabotage, security policy violations, etc.

Security Awareness Training

Has everyone in the organization gotten the appropriate and easy to understand security awareness training? If yes, then do they even remember what they were trained on? Has anyone tested their understanding?

Cloud Security Architecture

Microsoft 365 has 280+ security settings. Amazon Web Services and Azure have hundreds of security configuration options, too - we will take care of ALL of them!

Securing IT Infrastructure

We help our customers transform their IT infrastructure security by implementing Server & Network Device Hardening, Desktop Hardening, Network & Web Service security, Data Security, Backups, etc.

Vulnerability management

How many vulnerable machines / apps can a company have in its network?
We help our customers establish and manage a Vulnerability management program which will gradually reduce the vulnerabilities in their network.

Email & Communications Security

Getting access to a corporate account may grant a hacker access to all internal systems, too. We protect our customers by implementing secure authentication, ensuring the integrity and confidentiality of your communications.

Penetration Testing

Breach simulation is an integral part of every Information Security Program. Our customers can rely on us to support them in the initiation, execution and conclusion of a Penetration Test.

Secure Software Development

Software development should be a rapid, efficient and secure process. We help our customers integrate security into the design, development, testing, integration and deployment of their code.

Security Policies and Procedures

Policies and Procedures are the governing laws of a company's business. The ones we create are living and breathing documents bringing order and structure to our customers' security practices.

Secure Remote Access

Secure Work From Home is one aspect of remote access, but we also take care of third party partners and outsourced employees, vendors and guests. Remote access to data is not limited to VPN.

Zero Trust Networking

And this is exactly why we expand your defenses beyond VPN and add Zero-Trust as your main principle of defense.

Advanced Endpoint Security

Antivirus is just one of 12 controls we implement to defend endpoints from advanced hacking attacks. We prevent the exploitation of these devices via malicious documents, scripts, 0day vulnerabilities and more.

Security Monitoring

We will help you transform your IT infrastructure security by implementing Server & Network Device Hardening, Desktop Hardening, Network & Web Service security, Data Security, Backups, etc.

Plus much More

Every Information Security Program we build and execute for our clients is different. Their teams, infrastructure, applications used and business objectives are differ and we often expand our services to serve them better.

Step 1: Security Maturity Assessment

The only way to map a customers’ security journey is to assess where they are and where they want to be in a year. 

  1. We assess your current security controls in every one of the 14 areas above and find the critical items which pose the greatest, immediate risk of a security breach and generate a plan to rapidly close the gaps with compensating controls
  2. We also find the medium-rated and low-rated vulnerabilities and missing controls and include them in the Information Security Program Plan that we create for you as an output of the assessment
  3. We then utilize the Information Security Program Plan as a list of objectives and help your team achieve every single one of them within a year

Identity & Access Management

Our Identity and Access management service It is part of the CISO as a Service and is an ongoing effort throughout the entire time we work with our customer. During that time, we identify all business assets and all people having regular or administrative access to them. We also identify potential ways to attack or misuse the access and come up with compensating controls for them.

A critical part of this project is to educate the whole team of the customer on the importance of not reusing passwords and how to use a password manager efficiently.

An important objective to achieve with any customer is reaching passwordless authentication – something we achieve with a combination of services from Google (FIDO2), Microsoft (passwordless authentication), Yubico and utilizing biometrics and physical security.

password and access management

Attack Mitigation

Every company has a different threat landscape due to the data it holds, its customers and competitors and the resources it operates with.

Due to this, there are different attack methods hackers can use to compromise the security of the company and achieve their objective – to steal money directly from the accounting department, to steal confidential data or even hold the company for ransom, as it happened with this famous law firm security breach.

cyber attack mitigation
We take all of this into account, but we also cover the fundamental types of attacks with all our customers:

  1. Intrusions against networks
  2. Ransomware infections
  3. Malware infections
  4. Unauthorized release or disclosure of information
  5. Unauthorized access
  6. Account compromise
  7. Abuse of privileges
  8. Unauthorized changes of information, applications, systems or hardware
  9. Information security policy violation
  10. Suspicious system behavior
  11. Password confidentiality breach
  12. Sabotage / physical damage
  13. 0-day exploitation
  14. Phishing attacks
  15. Spear Phishing attacks
  16. Web service breach
  17. Insider threats

We come up with compensating controls for all of the above and implement them for our customers depending on business priority and risk.

Cybersecurity Awareness Training

Customers who use our CISO as a Service offering receive regular, high-quality security awareness training which helps every single one of their employees detect suspicious emails and report them.

The training is delivered periodically, everyone who passes it is tracked and reported to the customer’s HR team. Besides the regular training, customers also receive our frequent updates on new attack methods used by hackers globally, which keeps their team alert and up-to-date.

The human element in every defense strategy could be the weakest link or it could be your strongest link – it all depends on how well everyone is trained before they encounter an attack.

Cloud Security Architecture

Are you using any of the major cloud providers – Google, Azure/Microsoft 365 or Amazon Web Services?

We develop secure architecture guidelines and help our customers implement them regardless of which cloud provider they use, even if it is a small, regional one. The mindmap you see below is created by Atlant Security and is used as the foundation of the elements to be protected in any cloud deployment.

cloud security architecture

We also offer cloud security consulting as a separate service – so make sure to check it out if you want to start with cloud security only. However, it is more effective to get everything in one package than buying them one by one!

What does it take to secure your IT infrastructure?

Here’s a surprise: your printer can act as the easiest entry point into your network! Just check this PDF from BlackHat out: modern printers have an operating system and often contain administrative credentials, too.

But we do much more than securing printers. Windows 10 has 282 security settings, of which 25 are critical. The situation is the same with Windows Server, Exchange, Mac OS, your network devices, firewalls and switches. We take pride in our enterprise system hardening procedures and we don’t stop there.

Just look at the diagram below, which shows our process when securing our clients:

ciso as a service: secure IT infrastructure

Very few CISOs go to the length and depth of our CISO as a Service offering. It is not cheaper than the salary of a full-time Chief Information Security Officer – but it achieves at least 3 times more than if our customers hired someone internally. 

How vulnerable are the elements in your network and do vulnerabilities decrease over time?

Every element in your network can and usually does have vulnerabilities. When our clients sign up for the “Ciso as a Service” offering, we help them create and manage an efficient vulnerability management program.

Switches, routers, firewalls, servers, desktop computers with various operating systems and all the software installed on them have new vulnerabilities posted for them every week.

vulnerability management

Do you maintain a record of the following:

  1. How many vulnerabilities you have in your network on average per month
  2. Does that number decrease over time
  3. Do you improve the speed at which you patch vulnerabilities once they become known
  4. How often do you scan and what do you do with the scan data once it discovers new vulnerabilities
  5. Do you improve your patching practice and your vulnerability management KPIs over time?

Securing email, collaboration and instant messaging communications

Part of our Ciso as a Service offering is protecting email services on premise and in the cloud as well as protecting collaboration tools such as Trello, Jiira, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and instant messaging services used by our clients.

The reason they need to be protected is simple: hacking them is easy. In fact, it can take less than 2 minutes if you have not taken the effort to secure them!

Another responsibility we take on ourselves by becoming your CISO is the constant security monitoring of all email accounts and services for signs of unauthorized access. Even with 2-factor authentication enabled breaches are still possible. That is why it is critically important to integrate good security monitoring with any security control.

When should Attack Simulation / Penetration Testing be performed?

Penetration testing is an important element in every Information Security Program and is part of our CISO as a Service offering. 

It is, however, often performed without any strategic planning or instead of a comprehensive Information Security Assessment. It is important that penetration testing be performed only after the major efforts to build a company’s Information Security Program are already complete

If attack simulation is performed as the first stage of a company’s security efforts the results of the penetration test will simply show the lack of security controls – which is already known without it. In that case it will be a complete waste of time and resources

Selecting the right penetration testing vendor

The testing company should always be different from the company implementing your defenses. That is why we never perform the penetration tests ourselves. Instead, we will provide you with a list of the best penetration testing companies for your purposes and the criteria to make a selection based on your business priorities and budget. 

For example: you might want to do a limited penetration test of only the applications you have exposed to the Internet – be it an API, or a server offering services (B2B or B2C), or a mobile application – they all require different sets of testing skills and different companies specialize in them. 

An infrastructure / social engineering penetration test requires specialization, too. 

We have established relationships with the best penetration testing companies in the world and wherever you are, we know the best in the field and will help you make the right choice by following a scientific, consistent selection process.

Why is Secure Software Development a part of our CISO as a Service offering?

Secure Software Development is more than following an industry best practice or guideline.

It is about culture.

The culture of enterprise architects designing secure solutions, development leads requiring certain standards of secure coding from their developers, QA testers knowing which security vulnerabilities to look for – logical and technical, the IT administrators building secure development, testing and deployment environments for everyone working on the product and finally the security testing which the product has to go through to be declared safe and secure to use by the company’s clients and users. 

We help startups and software development companies build and nurture this culture. 

Policies and Procedures are a company’s Constitution

Our CISO as a Service experts carefully study every clients’ business before starting work on their security policies and procedures. 

As can be seen from the image below, there are many policies and procedures our CISO as a Service can create for you – but it takes decades of expertise and experience to know which of your business processes need to be described and ‘secured’ in a policy or a procedure. For example, we could create a “Security Hardening Procedure” for your IT department, which is not on the image below, or combine several policies into one. It all depends on a customer’s business requirements and what makes sense. 

 

Using CISO-as-a-Service is gaining popularity among the $500m – $2b businesses

Can a team of seasoned CISOs and security subject matter experts replace the CISO role at an organization by taking the Virtual CISO role?

In 2009 a CISO had to make sure they passed their annual audits and that their Antivirus was working properly. In 2019, a CISO must:

  • Ensure patching is on-time for all 9000 different applications, operating systems, firmware and drivers in their environment
  • For all the same 9000 elements, maintain daily/weekly/monthly vulnerability management
  • Maintain yearly penetration tests, ensure the findings are fixed before the next one
  • Choose between a plethora of security vendors selling their Data Leakage Protection, Next-Gen Firewalls, Blockchain and AI-based antivirus, antispam and anti-(insert snake oil salesman keyword here), all of whom essentially sell just a fancy box with a fancy name which the hackers don’t even notice as they come in and take your data
  • Herd all your employees into security compliance
  • Establish Security Incident Prevention, Detection and Response
  • Communicate risks to the board and get adequate funding for their mitigation

The likelihood of finding someone who can successfully contain all the knowledge and is able to achieve your performance objectives mentioned above is incredibly low.

Our Ciso As a Service team will build or re-build your security program

Protecting business-critical data needs to be aligned with business need. On top of that, which elements would you like to have as part of your security program?

We help organizations improve processes like threat management, building an Identity Management Program, establish Prevention, Detection and Response to cyber-attacks and even provide security awareness training for executives, regular employees and IT departments (all of them need different levels of detail and different knowledge).

Traditional security program building takes too long. You need to figure out what is the right path, what are the tools and techniques you’re going to use to really jump ahead in it.

We have seen some old processes and old technologies being used – and the people using them thought that just because it was in use for so long it was still effective and relatively risk-free.

Instead of having to train your own staff and grow your own internal capabilities – now you can access a senior resource part-time, maybe a day a week or 4 hours a week to be able to speed things along.

Some organizations decide to buy things like security appliances and software – and within 2 years of going that path they start to realize that the value of the things they bought is not what they expected it to be. Sometimes you budget for a product but then realize you also need to find the right people to operate it or train them – and their compensation was not budgeted at all! That ends up considerably slowing the whole process down.

We can navigate that kind of a minefield and ensure that everybody is thinking of that kind of variables before making decisions and investing in a technology or solution.

What is the price for Ciso-as-a-Service?

The price for having our team be a company’s CISO depends on the results of our security assessment of your company and the amount of people and hours dedicated to defending your company. As all our clients are of different size and have different needs, our prices reflect the same. If you want an answer now: the price is slightly higher than what you would pay for a full-time CISO, because you get more people, more technology, more know-how and experience and a higher quality of service, which does not go on vacation nor could leave you for a higher-paying job.

ciso as a service price

What is the average Virtual CISO hourly rate?

Usually our service is billed annually or monthly, because we essentially become a part of your team and deliver results on a project basis, targeting specific defense objectives. But since so many people ask us for the price, we can say that for smaller projects the price is higher and is around $200 an hour. For larger projects, where the work is distributed over a long period of time and involves much more billable hours, the price can go as low as $100/hour. Virtual CISO rates strongly depend on the project complexity, too – as with all averages, the median is far from the maximum or the minimum rate.

Comparing a full-time CISO to a virtual CISO

A dedicated full-time CISO usually spends one, two or even three months to really understand what’s going on in a company, the capabilities of its people, processes, technologies and assets, because it’s important to be non-disruptive by getting into processes you don’t yet understand, even if you are vigilant to quickly raise the bar in the defense of the organization.

From there one could determine the level of maturity an organization is at and build a strategy.

Differences and Similarities

The goals are identical, but there are some differences and similarities between a CISO and a virtual CISO (vCISO, to shorten it up and match our service name).

Differences:

  • We as the vCISO provider don’t get to be at the company every day.
  • We don’t have the time to sit back for 30, 60 or 90 days and learn the organization before we start acting and delivering value.
  • There are certain expectations from leadership – we get paid for results rather than just being there for compliance.
  • The speed of project and control implementation is higher with a virtual CISO due to less incentive to procrastinate – we get paid for results.

Similarities:

  • Our goal is to help business run safely and efficiently
  • The resources needed to achieve a certain level of defense are very similar: you need to buy the same software and hardware

How do we deliver the vCISO service?

Depending on the maturity level of the organization we might start with different projects. The first thing we usually start with is something like a NIST CSF (NIST Cybersecurity Framework) assessment and how the organization matches its requirements. In most cases we run our Cybersecurity Risk Assessment service which includes elements from NIST CSF but is based on the NSA-ISAM (NSA Information Security Assessment Methodology). Sometimes we go deep and include breach susceptibility (penetration testing).

Using the results and the report from it we establish a baseline for the client – in parallel to understanding the environment and culture at their company.

At this point we also look at the deliverables set in front of us by the client (if any) and prioritize according to the risk to the business. We identify the major priorities for the first 3 months – the biggest items on our list are usually the risks identified that are presenting a direct threat to the organization.

After identifying those and beginning to work on them, we develop a 2 to 3-year strategy for the larger organizations and a one-year strategy for the smaller ones, detailing everything we can tackle from a budget and resource perspective.

We also utilize any input the organization might give us from their own assessments – usually those are like the CIS Critical Security Controls – but these rarely go into as much detail and depth as our assessment does.

The limitations we are presented with from the customer’s side are usually time, people and resources that are available for security – and so with the results of our assessment we strategically prioritize them together with the client. There are many cases when we can request for more people and resources to realistically cover the risks identified before they are able to materialize.

The toughest part of a CISO job is fighting fires all day – usually involving lots of politics and inter-team friction on minute items that an external resource usually doesn’t deal with – we have the chance to focus on deliverables and since the client is paying for our time, they also do that and in the end we turn out to be more effective than a hired full-time resource.

We are very client-driven – irrespective of vertical our various clients have different needs and priorities and different states from a security program perspective

It’s all about protecting business data and ensuring that the business can still be profitable while still protecting it.

Knowledge Transfer

One of the things we love most about the service we deliver to our clients is the knowledge transfer part of it. We consult every day – and we see consulting as providing our experience gained with various clients to every client we work with.

We love to see how an organization is transformed from one not having a security program or having a very weak one into a kind of a digital fortress – a very efficient and secure business unit.

What kind of clients are typically most interested in ordering CISO as a Service?

It depends a lot on their business, but small to medium size operations at some point realize they need someone to take care of security. Usually those are businesses between $500 million to $2 billion. These are typically organizations that don’t currently have a dedicated person or even someone on their team who is well versed in cybersecurity. There are also clients who are a little more mature from a security program perspective but need our assistance going faster.

For them, our team can come in and speed up some of the initiatives to get their maturity level up quicker.

What are the costs involved?

The first point we usually get into when people look at the virtual CISO option is cost – and from a pricing perspective it is generally going to be less expensive to have a virtual one. A CISO typically makes around $200 000 per year and most organizations generally have not budgeted that amount for someone to take care of security. Sometimes you can’t even find a good one on the market to begin with!

Hiring and keeping the right talent is expensive and risky – many people leave within a year or two and you would have to go through the same process all over again – which can take up to six months even with a good recruitment or head-hunting team.

Let’s not forget that’s just the salary – excluding the price of any software, hardware and external help they need to order – such as penetration testing, incident response, EDR, SIEM and all kinds of other security services.

If you decide to go out and get a dedicated CISO, you will also need to get headcount below them.

Let’s do the math, budgeting for a CISO position:

  • The average CISO makes around $200 000 a year.
  • The average security firm also needs to hire people to man the security tools in a company (especially those larger than 1000 people): someone has to maintain all those firewalls, SIEM (Security Information and Event Management), Antivirus engines, antispam, Data Leakage Prevention, exploit mitigation, Enterprise Detection and Response tools (EDR), vulnerability management and patching tools… consider each of the new hires costing the company $50 000 – $80 000 per year.
  • All the tools mentioned above have licensing costs. The SIEM alone can cost in a range of $40 000 per year.
  • Hardware and storage costs for all the data needed to be processed and stored for security purposes

With our service, you get to use our whole team of seasoned professionals under one service name: CISO as a Service.

The cost savings are obvious. Let’s take recruitment for example:

Any head-hunting company charges one or two monthly salaries for finding a CISO and the same applies to other people in the security department.

The average lifespan of a CISO in a company is 1-2 years (source: ISSA.ORG). That means that every 18 months you will have to spend $20 000 – $40 000 on finding a new CISO and another $5000 – $8000 for each additional team member.

With our service you are saving roughly $40 000 every 18 months just on recruitment costs and you’re getting a higher quality of service. Add to that the cost of re-training every new hire, as they spend up to three months (paid!) while learning about their new job and requirements.

Multi-national corporations with a lot of different sites might not be the ideal customer for us as they would probably already have a security team and a senior security person in place, but even they can use our organization and service to augment the resources and time allotted to their CISO and speed projects up by a huge margin.

Depending on where the organization is, from a cost perspective it might even be viable to only do quarterly engagements with a vCISO team or even only be brought in to speak to the board and exchange strategic guidance. The way we’ve built the service allows us to be super flexible in the way we deliver value with it.

Another benefit of the Virtual CISO service is that, depending on the maturity of the organization, a lot of the activities can be done on a project-by-project basis.

For example, if we are building an Incident Response Capability for your company – it can be part of an ongoing long-term plan or as a project.

The next step as a decision point is which way to go in risk ownership – if something goes wrong, such as a security incident, especially if it is a major one, usually the CISO gets fired. With a vCISO service the company delivering it has defined responsibilities and execution is agreed with the client’s senior management – so if any contractual obligation was not followed, there is a certain liability on the vCISO part, whereas the liability of a CISO is limited to their employment.

On average, the longevity of a CISO in a company is around 2 years – because they can lose their job for all kinds of reasons, security incidents being just one kind. This is yet another reason to go with a virtual CISO – you get to keep improving your security program with the same team, avoiding some of the political and interpersonal relationship risks present when tensions between CIO, CEO and CISO arise.

For a security program to be successful, every employee of the organization needs to stand behind the security strategy laid out in front of them – including the IT team, the leadership team, everyone should care and participate equally, trying not to click on phishing links, reporting suspicious activities, trying not to bypass security measures and instead report when they are ineffective so the security team would find better ones in terms of usability and efficiency.

From a vCISO perspective, our responsibility is to help everyone onboard to stop seeing security as the ‘department of No’ but as a department which supports business and ensures its survival in the long run.

Our message is: “Here is our assessment of the situation, here are the risks, here are the potential remediation actions from a risk perspective – accept, mitigate, transfer, etc.”.

Then the response method, based on the options provided, is with the client’s leadership team.

Who should the Virtual CISO report to?

In most cases, especially in organizations with a less mature security program, the CISO function reports to the CIO – and it might be the most effective form of reporting for them, as being inside the team is oftentimes better than being outside the IT team and telling people what to do without seeing the impact of your suggestions on their projects directly.

If the networking team in the company also does security (which is often the case because… they take care of the firewall and in many companies the Antivirus and the Firewall are the only security they have), when a CISO as a Service expert comes it they are viewed as a threat – as the networking team is going to be afraid the security reports are going to claim Networking is not doing a good enough job – and so it is really important for us to understand the personnel culture right from the start and then be able to tactfully diffuse things – and over a short period of time to be able to build trust.

Often, even after the service is already brought in the company, we still need to sell ourselves to the internal teams and team members – and we do.

Industry Relationships

Relationships are important both inside and out of the organization, that is the same for us as the service provider. We have a huge network of friendships, acquaintances, vendors and industry professionals. We always leverage that network to offer a more streamlined and cost-effective service.

On the other hand, when a CISO stays for a long time in the same position and in the same company, their professional network starts becoming stale and offers less and less leverage over time.

One of the great benefits of working with our company is the talent we have – even if one is not a PCI expert when our clients fall under PCI compliance, we can always bring in a phenomenal PCI expert from our team to help them. We also have people on the technical side of things – penetration testing, forensics, incident response, security assessments – and at any point in time, any stage that a customer’s project is, we utilize them at the right time to make our CISO as a Service most effective, this works much better for our clients than depending on that one CISO.

Another point is sharing industry knowledge with other consulting companies – 99 percent of the time we’ve got the same attackers, we defend the same types of infrastructure and have about the same technology and we all have the desire to share success stories to help others mitigate the threat we just dealt with.

Together at Atlant Security we also share information internally all the time in our daily meetings, internal chats – the speed of information flow is much faster than a CISO can afford to read during their daytime job activities.

Our primary responsibility is to communicate risk to the business and provide the right tools and expertise to act accordingly.

Assistance with your migration to the Cloud

Almost everyone these days is using one or many cloud services – businesses even migrate all their infrastructure and data to the cloud. The digital transformation movement is very fast and technologies change quickly – quicker than many full-time employees are comfortable with.

That is where our CISO as a Service comes in – to bridge the gap between the data and services you need to migrate and the internally available resources.

We always have the needed skills and personnel available and will speed your cloud migration significantly, reducing friction and risk.

We might be in an organization on Monday and work with their own set of business drivers and political obstacles to mature their security program – and on Tuesday it could be a completely different organization, in a different vertical with different business needs and requirements and it is challenging, but on the other side by overcoming different challenges we add to the whole team’s experience – and all our customers get to benefit from that.

From our experience, every time someone tells us they know something is wrong but they’ll fix it later, it never happens. But there are things that can be done right away! For example, 2-factor authentication.

Can a company outsource their complete set of security needs to a third party?

It’s important to understand that you can’t do everything at once. You need to identify the Number 1 priority, the thing that will bring the most impact quickly in improving the security within the organization.

No company out there can offer a full set of managed security services unless the client in general outsources most of their processes – their whole IT organization – to a third party.

If there is onsite infrastructure, someone, even if it is a member of the IT department, must be onsite and take care of things as instructed by our vCISO team.

Let's get to work together!

We serve very few clients and take pride in our work. Can we become a great team and achieve amazing things together?

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