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March 4, 2023
Utilizing Managed Services for Fractional CISO Support
Written by: Brian Seeling
Why Managed Services for Cybersecurity Support?
As cybersecurity breaches become more frequent and cyber-attacks become more sophisticated, organizations of all sizes must start to address these risks and put a cybersecurity program in place to protect their assets, reputation, and customers. Enterprise firms know this and have large departments of cybersecurity expect to address these concerns that help mitigate risk throughout the enterprise. But what about the mid-market and even small businesses? How do they address this complex problem ensuring risks are low, and protections are in place allowing for long-term sustainability? In this blog, we discuss how using a fractional security officer or CISO might be the best solution.
What is a Fractional Security Officer or CISO?
Imagine it's the end of the year and your business taxes are due, are you processing that complex filing internally? Most firms rely on an expert to help guide them on all the new laws introduced for that tax year, optimizing for the best returns. Cybersecurity can be looked at through the same lens and in some cases, be even more complex, so why not bring in experts to help? Just like your tax adviser, hiring a fractional security officer\CISO or even a firm that has an army of specialists can be beneficial and provide the guidance you seek for ensuring you have and maintain a successful cybersecurity program. They develop an understanding of your business and environment, understand the risk, and develop, policies, procedures, solutions, and best practices to protect your organization's data and infrastructure. They can help you develop and manage a comprehensive program to mitigate your risk and ensure you are aware of new requirements as new rules and regulations are released. Lastly, if your firm does business with the federal government, the CISO can prepare you for your CMMC certification.
What if I am Government Contractor looking for CMMC support?
By outsourcing this effort to a consulting firm, you should be able to complete a comprehensive plan to address CMMC. Starting with assessing the organization's current cybersecurity posture, developing a compliance plan, implementing required controls and policies, conducting ongoing monitoring and assessment, and assisting with the certification process. A CISO can assist a government contractor in obtaining their CMMC certification. Government contractors can ensure that they meet the cybersecurity requirements required to bid on and win government contracts with the assistance of a CISO and maintain it along with their federal contracts.
This would also be a similar approach to other industry standards like NIST, ISO, SOC, HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR. Typically, most firms will have expertise in all or at least a handful of standards. The approach is similar, but knowing the nuances of each standard type is also important. You need to understand what standards you are looking to achieve and make sure the firm can meet those expectations.
What are the advantages of Hiring a Fractional Security Officer or CISO?
For those firms in the mid-sized to SMB range, this should be your first step in establishing and planning a well-thought-out cybersecurity program. You need a roadmap and an experienced expert to help provide the guidance you need to be successful. Going into it thinking you are going to deploy multifactor authentication (MFA), migrate to Microsoft GCC-High, or some other new quick-fix solution to solve the compliance requirements is just not the right way. Mistakes will be just as costly, so let's start on the right foot and get a comprehensive plan in place.
Now let's look at some of the advantages of hiring such a person or business to oversee your cybersecurity program.
Hiring a full-time CISO can be expensive, especially for small and medium-sized organizations that may not have the budget for a full-time cybersecurity expert. By hiring a fractional security officer or CISO, organizations can save money while still receiving high-quality cybersecurity services.
- Expertise and Experience
Fractional security officers or CISOs are highly experienced and knowledgeable in the cybersecurity industry. They have worked with multiple clients across various industries and have a deep understanding of the latest cybersecurity threats, trends, and best practices. They bring a wealth of expertise and experience to the organization that can help to enhance cybersecurity measures.
Organizations can hire a fractional security officer or CISO on a part-time or full-time basis, depending on their needs. This flexibility allows organizations to adjust their cybersecurity resources based on their budget and the level of cybersecurity risk they face.
A fractional security officer or CISO brings an outside perspective to the organization, which can help to identify potential vulnerabilities that internal employees may overlook. They can provide an objective assessment of the organization's cybersecurity posture and make recommendations to improve it.
- Up-to-Date Knowledge
The cybersecurity industry is constantly evolving, and new threats and vulnerabilities emerge regularly. Fractional security officers or CISOs stay up to date with the latest cybersecurity trends and best practices, which can help to ensure that the organization's cybersecurity program is effective and up to date. Knowledge of emerging standards such as cybersecurity maturity model certification (CMMC) and Zero Trust Architecture, (ZTA) is critical.
While hiring a full-time CISO may seem like the most practical option, outsourcing to a fractional security officer or CISO can provide many benefits as we outlined above. It's a better choice for these reasons and many more, ultimately giving you and your executives better control and flexibility. Regardless of the size of your organization, getting outside help is truly the most responsible way to ensure you reduce business risk and create long-term success for your organization.
How do I Choose the Right Firm or Consultant?
When hiring an outsourced cybersecurity consulting firm or individual consultant, there are several factors to consider to ensure that you are getting the best possible services. You need to evaluate the need, and make sure the need fits the proposed solution; you don't need to hire an expensive 24x7x365 SOC operation if all you need is a consultant to help provide guidance. Cybersecurity is broad, so here are some key things to look for when hiring an outsourced cybersecurity consulting firm:
- Capabilities & Experience
Before hiring a cybersecurity consulting firm, make sure they can provide the services you require. For example, if you require assistance with network security, make certain that the firm has expertise in that area.
When it comes to cybersecurity consulting, experience is essential. Check to see if the firm has worked with clients like yours in terms of size, industry, and cybersecurity requirements. To ensure that they have the necessary experience, you can ask for references and examples of similar projects that they have completed.
- Certifications and Standards
To ensure that they provide high-quality services, cybersecurity consulting firms should be certified and adhere to industry standards. Knowledge of emerging cybersecurity technology such as Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) is important. Certifications such as Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard should be sought (PCI DSS). Check to see if the company follows standards like the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework and ISO 27001.
When it comes to any type of consulting, reputation is everything, and ethics are especially important in cybersecurity consulting. Look for previous client reviews and testimonials, as well as their ratings with the Better Business Bureau or other relevant organizations. You can also find out if they have had any cybersecurity breaches, which can be a red flag.
- Communication Skills
This is always difficult in the IT industry in general, but cybersecurity consulting necessitates excellent communication skills because consultants must collaborate closely with internal staff to understand their needs and provide effective solutions. If they can't explain the need in the simplest terms, they might not be a good fit for you. When it comes time to cut the checks, it is critical to ensure that the cybersecurity consulting firm has excellent communication skills and can explain complex concepts.
The cost of cybersecurity consulting can vary greatly depending on the project's scope and the level of expertise required. It is critical that you understand the firm's pricing structure and that there are no hidden costs. Furthermore, compare the pricing of various firms to ensure that you are receiving a competitive rate.
Ascertain that the cybersecurity consulting firm will be available when you require them. Inquire about their availability and response time, especially in the event of an emergency. Furthermore, make certain that they have a plan in place for contingencies such as staff turnover or unexpected events.
What services are Provided?
An outsourced cybersecurity expert who provides guidance and oversight on cybersecurity matters to an organization provides varying services depending on the organization's needs, but here are some common services that may be provided:
- Develop and implement a cybersecurity strategy.
A CISO can help an organization develop and implement a cybersecurity strategy that aligns with the organization's overall goals and objectives. This may involve conducting a risk assessment, identifying vulnerabilities, and developing a plan to mitigate those risks.
- Manage and maintain cybersecurity policies and procedures .
A CISO can help an organization create and maintain cybersecurity policies and procedures that comply with industry standards and regulations. This may include policies around data privacy, incident response, and access control.
- Conduct regular cybersecurity assessments.
A CISO can conduct regular cybersecurity assessments to identify vulnerabilities and potential threats to an organization's systems and data. These assessments may include penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and social engineering testing.
- Manage cybersecurity incidents.
In the event of a cybersecurity incident, a CISO can help an organization respond quickly and effectively. This may involve developing an incident response plan, coordinating with internal teams and external stakeholders, and conducting post-incident analysis.
- Provide cybersecurity training and awareness.
A CISO can help an organization train its employees on cybersecurity best practices and increase overall cybersecurity awareness. This may include developing training programs, conducting phishing simulations, and providing regular updates on emerging threats and trends.
- Ensure compliance with regulations and standards.
A CISO can help an organization ensure compliance with regulations and standards such as NIST, CMMC, ISO, SOC, HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR. This may involve conducting regular audits, developing compliance frameworks, and implementing controls to mitigate risk.
- Work with external vendors and partners
A CISO can help an organization manage cybersecurity risks associated with external vendors and partners. This may include conducting vendor risk assessments, developing vendor security requirements, and monitoring vendor compliance.
In short, by carefully evaluating these factors, you can ensure that you hire a firm that offers high-quality cybersecurity services tailored to the needs of your organization. When you combine this with the realization that hiring a firm is preferable to hiring an internal resource or going it alone, you have a strategy for implementing your cybersecurity program.
AtWork Systems designed OneLynk to enable GovCon's to navigate through the challenges of growing a GovCon business by providing a DCAA compliant ERP system to deliver exceptional performance. While a government contractor is maturing in the government market, as either a prime or subcontractor, OneLynk is there to instill the processes and systems needed to help achieve government compliance. AtWork Systems offers fractional subject matter experts - across functions like accounting, HR, financial, contract and project management - to help startups step out on the right foot or to help more mature firms transform ad hoc or inadequate processes into higher levels of performance. The combination of AtWork Systems' OneLynk and associated professional services is available as a comprehensive, secure, and affordable means of gaining the competitive advantage.
Learn More About AtWork Systems
AtWork Systems is an Arlington, Virginia based managed services and software development company. Its principals have decades of experience doing business with and working for federal, state, and local government. They developed OneLynk as a configurable and scalable SaaS platform that digitizes and optimizes processes while providing just in time business intelligence for decision making. OneLynk contains a suite of easily configurable web applications for automating and monitoring business transactions, including: human capital management, accounting, timekeeping, expense management, procurement, contracts and project management, payroll services and more. Discover the latest ERP System for Government Contractors at www.atworksys.com.
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