$2,900,000 is lost to cybercrime every minute, and it is no surprise that hiring a virtual CISO has grown in popularity in recent years. Many business owners believe hiring a part-time chief information security officer is essential for protecting their companies future. By engaging our virtual CISO services, you can put your mind at ease because we massively reduce the risk of a security breach. We will build the necessary security capabilities and defensive measures for your company and work with your team daily to protect your business.
How does your team handle passwords and access management? Do people reuse the same passwords everywhere? Do you know who has access to what and why at any time? Can hackers easily steal employee passwords?
Our Virtual CISO services will help you establish mitigation controls for 17 types of cyber attacks: account compromise, unauthorized access, ransomware, network intrusions, malware infections, sabotage, security policy violations, and more.
Has everyone received the appropriate and easy-to-understand security awareness training? If yes, then do they even remember anything from it? Your Virtual CISO will consistently improve security awareness across the whole company.
How many vulnerable machines/apps can a company have in its network?
Through our vCISO services, we help our customers establish and manage a Vulnerability management program, gradually reducing their network vulnerabilities.
Getting access to a corporate account may grant a hacker access to all internal systems. We protect our customers by implementing secure authentication, ensuring the integrity and confidentiality of your communications.
Software development should be a rapid, efficient, and secure process. With our virtual CISO services we help you integrate security into the design, development, testing, integration, and deployment of your code.
Antivirus is just one of the 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.
Every Information Security Program we build and execute for our clients is different. Their teams, infrastructure, applications used, and business objectives are unique, and we often expand our services to serve them better.
Protect Your Company's Future Before It's too late
Reputation damage and revenue loss can have severe implications for your business. Please don’t leave it up to chance and expose your company to a security breach. Our part-time and on-demand Virtual CISO services offer the perfect alternative to the expensive, long-term contracts required when hiring a full-time CISO. We can be flexible around your business needs while still providing a personalized yet cost-effective cyber security strategy, so your business doesn’t fall victim to a future threatening security breach.
The only way to map a customer’s security journey is to assess where they are and want to be in a year.
We assess your current security controls in every one of the 14 areas above, find the critical items that pose the greatest, immediate risk of a security breach, and generate a plan to close the gaps with compensating controls rapidly.
Our Security Maturity Assessment goes beyond just an audit – every question asked turns into a consulting session with your team. Our objective is to ensure your organization understands why the problem is there and why the security controls must be present.
Step 2: Information Security Program development
The output of the Security Maturity Assessment is an Information Security Program.
It contains mitigation controls for implementation in every one of the 14 areas above. It schedules gradual execution of the critical items which pose the greatest, immediate risk of a security breach.
We also find the medium-rated and low-rated vulnerabilities and missing controls. We include them in the Information Security Program Plan that we create for you as an assessment output.
We then utilize the Information Security Program Plan as a list of objectives and help your team achieve every one of them within a year.
Step 3: Information Security Program implementation
The implementation phase can take your virtual CISO (virtual chief information security officer) between 2 weeks and a year, depending on the company’s size and infrastructure complexity.
All work happens in three phases for implementation: Critical, Medium, and Low. All Critical findings and security controls are worked on in parallel until completion; we follow the same process with the implementation of Medium and Low criticality security controls.
Throughout the entire project, we show all work progress on a dashboard. You can see all tasks in development, who is working on them, which are the pending items or blocking issues, etc.
After remediating all the vulnerabilities identified in the Security Maturity Assessment, we advise the customer to run a Penetration Test.
A Virtual CISO is responsible for building all the necessary security capabilities and defensive measures for your company, such as Security Monitoring, Incident Response, Threat Modeling, Threat Hunting, Security Hardening of desktops, servers, databases and applications, network devices, security awareness training, etc.
The price for having our team be a company’s CISO depends on our security assessment results and the number of people and hours dedicated to defending your company. As all our clients are of different sizes and have different needs, our prices reflect that.
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 raise the bar in defense of the organization quickly.
In-house recruiters, CTOs, and executives everywhere are wondering: How to find and hire a great CISO to join their team, and if you are reading this – you are likely among them. Faced with the challenge of not having a
We help customers secure their Identity and Access management practices as part of the Virtual CISO as a Service solution. We help companies identify all business assets, applications, infrastructure elements, and data, and all the people, who have regular or administrative access to them. We also identify potential ways to attack or misuse the access and develop compensating controls for all risks identified.
A critical part of this project is to educate the customer’s whole team on the importance of not reusing passwords and how to use a password manager efficiently.
A vital objective to achieve with any customer is reaching passwordless authentication – something we deliver with a combination of services from Google (FIDO2), Microsoft (passwordless authentication), Yubico, and utilizing biometrics and physical security.
Every company has a different threat landscape due to its data, customers and competitors, and resources.
Because of that, hackers can use different attack methods to compromise the company’s security and achieve its objectives.
They could be after stealing money directly from the accounting department, stealing confidential data, or even holding the company for ransom, as it happened with this famous law firm security breach.
We take a lot into account, but we also cover the fundamental types of attacks with all our customers:
Intrusions against networks
Unauthorized release or disclosure of information
Abuse of privileges
Unauthorized changes of information, applications, systems, or hardware
Information security policy violation
Suspicious system behavior
Password confidentiality breach
Sabotage / physical damage
Spear Phishing attacks
Web service breach
We develop 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 employee detect suspicious emails and report them.
The training is delivered periodically; we help the customer’s team track its completion. Besides the regular exercise, customers also receive frequent updates on new attack methods that hackers use globally, keeping their team alert and up-to-date.
The human element in every defense strategy could be the weakest link, or it could be your most reliable link – it all depends on how well people prepare before they encounter an attack.
Cloud Security Architecture
Are you using any 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 a small, regional one. The mindmap you see here created by Atlant Security is used as the foundation of the elements to be protected in any cloud deployment.
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.
Cloud Virtual CISO
Some business cases require that a company hires a virtual CISO for its cloud-only environment. We already have several clients matching that description – with a 100% cloud-based IT infrastructure; some even host their desktops in Amazon Workspaces.
If you decide to migrate to the Cloud, the skills of a regular CISO are no match for your needs, and it is understandable why you may have trouble finding the right skills in defending cloud environments. Let us help you; our team has all the experience you need!
What does it take to secure your IT infrastructure?
Here’s a surprise: your printer can act as the most accessible entry point into your network! Just check this PDF from BlackHat: modern printers have an operating system and often contain administrative credentials.
But there is more to security 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, network devices, firewalls, and switches. We take pride in our enterprise system hardening procedures, and we don’t stop there.
The diagram below shows our process when securing our clients:
Very few CISOs go to the length and depth of our Virtual CISO as a Service offering. Our part-time CISO service is not cheaper than a full-time Chief Information Security Officer’s salary – but it achieves at least three times more than if our customers hired someone full-time.
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 our Virtual CISO consulting services, we help them create and manage an efficient vulnerability management program.
Switches, routers, firewalls, servers, desktop computers with various operating systems, and all the installed software have new vulnerabilities posted for them every week.
Do you maintain a record of the following:
How many vulnerabilities do you have in your network on average per month
Does that number decrease over time
Do you improve the speed at which you patch vulnerabilities once they become known
How often do you scan, and what do you do with the scan data once it discovers new vulnerabilities
Do you improve your patching practice and your vulnerability management KPIs over time?
Securing email, collaboration, and instant messaging communications
As a Service offering, part of our Virtual CISO is protecting email services on-premise and in the Cloud and safeguarding collaboration tools such as Trello, Jira, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and instant messaging services our clients use.
The reason they need to be protected is simple: hacking them is easy. It can take less than 2 minutes if you have not made an effort to secure them!
We take on ourselves by becoming your CISO in 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 proper security monitoring with any security control.
When should Attack Simulation / Penetration Testing be performed?
Penetration testing is an essential element in every Information Security Program and is part of our Virtual CISO as a Service offering.
However, penetration testing is often without any strategic planning or instead of a comprehensive Information Security Assessment. It is crucial to execute a penetration test after the significant efforts to build a company’s Information Security Program are completed.
If attack simulation is the first stage of a company’s security efforts, the penetration test results will only show the lack of security controls. In that case, it will be a complete waste of time and resources.
Why is Secure Software Development a part of our Virtual 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 specific 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;
Security testing is when the product has to be declared safe and secure by its clients and users.
We help startups and software development companies build and nurture this culture.
Policies and Procedures are a company’s Constitution
Our Virtual CISO as Service experts carefully examines every client’s business before working on their security policies and procedures.
Our Virtual CISO as a Service can create many policies and procedures for you. 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. Still, it takes decades of expertise and experience to know which business processes need extra security in a policy or a procedure. 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 worked correctly. 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 get 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). They primarily sell just a fancy box with a fancy name that 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 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 needs. 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 and building an Identity Management Program. We also help them to establish prevention, Detection, and Response practices. And we even provide security awareness training for executives, regular employees, and IT departments (all of them need different content).
Traditional security program building takes too long. You need to figure out the right path and the tools and techniques you will use to jump ahead in it.
We have seen some old processes and 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 training your staff and growing your internal capabilities, now you can access a senior resource part-time, maybe a day a week or 4 hours a week, to speed things along.
Some organizations decide to buy things like security appliances and software – and within two years of going that path, they start to realize that the value of the stuff they bought is not what they expected it to be. Sometimes your 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 thinks of that kind of variable before making decisions and investing in a technology or solution.
What is the cost of a Virtual CISO Service?
The price for having our team be a company’s CISO depends on our security assessment results and the number of people and hours dedicated to defending your company. As all our clients are of different sizes and have different security requirements, our prices reflect that. 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. It starts at $40k per year for smaller companies, and for companies with thousands of employees, it may reach $300k per year or more, depending on any additional services and licenses a large company may need.
What is the average Virtual CISO hourly rate?
Get a Cloud Virtual CISO/CISO as a service instead of spending months searching for a good Information Security Manager. We bill clients 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 the price for smaller projects is higher and is around $200 an hour. For larger projects, where the work is distributed over a long time and involves much more billable hours, the price can be as low as $100/hour. Virtual CISO consulting services rates strongly depend on the project’s complexity.
CISO as a Service pricing
You can expect to invest between $5200 and $9000 if your business has only cloud infrastructure and you have between ten and a hundred employees. If you have a large IT team and your software development team is larger than 20 people, then our CISO as a Service pricing will be higher than $10000 per month.
The CISO as a service pricing starts at $5200, because a small company needs at least 20 hours a month and will most likely require at least 40 hours in the first month to get rid of all the high criticality risk vulnerabilities we usually find. You can expect the price to decrease after the third month, because our involvement gets lower the more vulnerabilities we help you patch and the more secure you become.
Full-time CISO vs. a Virtual CISO
A dedicated full-time CISO usually spends one, two, or even three months understanding what is going on in a company.
It is essential to be non-disruptive by getting into processes you don’t yet understand, even if you are vigilant to raise the bar in defense of the organization quickly.
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.
We, as the virtual CISO 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 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.
Our goal is to help the 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 Virtual CISO service?
Depending on the maturity level of the organization, we might start with different projects. We usually begin with a NIST CSF (NIST Cybersecurity Framework) assessment and how it matches its requirements. We run our Cybersecurity Risk Assessment service in most cases, which includes NIST CSF elements 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, we establish a baseline for the client – in parallel to understanding the environment and culture at their company.
We also look at the deliverables set in front of us by the client (if any) and prioritize according to the business’s risk. We identify the major priorities for the first three months – the most important items on our list are usually the risks identified that present a direct threat to the organization.
After identifying those and working on them, we developed a 2 to 3-year strategy for the larger organizations and a one-year plan for the smaller ones, detailing everything we can tackle from a budget and resource perspective.
The limitations from the customer’s side are usually time, people, and resources 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 more people and resources to cover the risks identified before materializing realistically.
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 less expensive to have a virtual one. Sometimes you can’t even find a good one on the market! 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.
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 repeatedly, which can take up to six months even with a good recruitment 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 get a dedicated CISO, you will need to get a 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
You get to use our whole team of seasoned professionals under one service name: CISO as a Service with our service.
The cost savings are apparent. 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 save 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.
On average, the longevity of a CISO in a company is around two years – because they can lose their job for all kinds of reasons, security incidents being just one kind. 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.
Does a Virtual CISO report to anyone?
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.
Being inside the team is often better than being outside the IT team and telling people what to do without directly seeing the impact of your suggestions on their projects.
If the networking team in the company also does security, when a CISO as a Service expert comes in, they may be viewed as a threat.
We need to understand the personnel culture right from the start and then be able to tactfully diffuse things over a short time to build trust.
Sometimes, after we start delivering our Virtual CISO services in the company, we still need to sell ourselves to the internal teams and team members – and we do.
Virtual CISO Responsibilities
The Information Security Program defines the responsibilities of a virtual CISO (or the company delivering the CISO as a Service offering) created for a customer. They may range from external consulting only to hands-on implementation, assessments, team, individual employee mentoring, security awareness training, security hardening audits and random spot checks, financial reporting on the money spent on cybersecurity to the board much more.
We have a vast network of friendships, acquaintances, vendors, and industry professionals. We consistently leverage that network to offer a more streamlined and cost-effective service.
On the other hand, when a CISO stays in the same position and company for a long time, its professional network starts becoming stale and offers 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.
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 infrastructure types. We have about the same technology, and we all desire to share success stories to help others mitigate similar threats.
Together at Atlant Security, we also share information internally 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 uses one or many cloud services – businesses even migrate all their infrastructure and data to the Cloud. The digital transformation movement is swift, 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 speed your cloud migration significantly, reducing friction and risk.
On Monday, we might be in an organization and work with their own set of business drivers and political obstacles to mature their security program.
On Tuesday, it could be a completely different organization, in a different vertical with different business needs and requirements, and it is challenging. By overcoming various challenges, we add to the whole team’s experience – and all our customers get to benefit from that.
Can a company outsource all of its 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, which will bring the most impact quickly in improving the organization’s security.
No company out there can offer a complete 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 on-site infrastructure, someone, even a member of the IT department, must take care of things as instructed by our virtual CISO team.
Is CISO as a Service the same as Part-time CISO?
Having a part-time CISO with our service is better than having a full-time CISO because you get guaranteed service levels and defenses. Hiring full-time means you pay one salary to the headhunter or recruiter/recruitment agency, and you need to train the person in the specifics of your company. That training period usually lasts between a few weeks to a few months, depending on its side and the CISO skills.
A part-time CISO needs less time to commute if they work remotely, which gives them more time to work on the company’s defenses. You can get a highly experienced and qualified security expert to be your part-time CISO with our service.
The team serving as your CISO is always motivated and consistently performs at their highest capacity due to the KPI-based contract between our clients and Atlant Security and the performance rewards system based on client satisfaction and goal achievement.
When you have a CISO-as-a-Service contract with us, it clearly defines the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and objectives. Our invoicing depends on the KPIs achieved, agreed and approved by you.
Imagine if you could approve the work of your full-time or part-time CISO before each salary? Unfortunately, no labor law in any country globally would allow that. But it will enable it with a service contract with a company! Their performance would have been excellent, too!