The Best Virtual CISO Services

A Chief Information Security Officer has overall responsibility for IT security and protecting sensitive data within a business

Many tasks need to be performed within this remit, including assessments, planning, resource allocation, training, and goal setting. In addition, the security requirements of businesses are increasingly being framed by legislation and industry standards, so the CISO needs to be fully conversant with the requirements of data protection standards that apply to the business’s operations.

Here is a quick overview of our list of the best vCISO services:

  1. Fractional CISO EDITOR’S CHOICE This service allows you to hire an expert CISO for a short period to get your data protection and governance system in place. You get a name and experienced CISO desiccated to your project for the duration of your contract.
  2. Conosco Expert remote advice from a team of highly experienced data security specialists. This bespoke package can be tailored for short-term needs or occasional ongoing advice.
  3. BSI A consultancy team that offers remote packages to create a data protection environment.
  4. Cyber Management Alliance A team of cyber security experts form a skills pool to be accessed by businesses that can’t get that level of experience locally.

You can read more about each of these options in the following sections.

System security is not a profit center – it is an expense. It is difficult for hard-pressed businesses owners to accept the necessity of hiring a specialist manager for the CISO role. In owner-managed businesses and family-run enterprises, the main drive for success lies in cutting costs. Adding on unprofitable and costly security tasks is a proposal that many business owners would resist.

The title of CISO as the Chief implies that there will be other people working on information security, and that role will expand out into an entire department. Indeed, it is unrealistic to expect one person to conduct all of the research and project management needed to get a business fully compliant and legally effective to meet the responsibility of holding data about private individuals.

The easiest way to get up to speed on all of the changes needed in the business process to make them compliant is to outsource this function to a consultancy. This is the concept of the vCISO. A vCISO service is primarily human specialists rather than automated systems.

The vCISCO service is a consultancy role rather than a system management function. The CISO should recommend that the company’s software maintain tight control on data and implement all of the activity required logging for compliance reporting. Getting an individual on staff who has all the necessary experience and knowledge is very difficult. Such experts are rare, and in many areas of the world, there might not be anyone with suitable qualifications to properly conduct the tasks of the role.

A vCISO service turns that job title into a service description rather than a single person. Contacting a vCISO service will get you input from a group of experts, each of whom is a specialist in one or two aspects of the role. You won’t get one person, and you won’t get all of the working time of any one of the individuals in the team.

vCISO vs. a Chief Information Security Officer

The vCISO approach is a more efficient and cost-effective way to get a company up to scratch in terms of data security than the strategy of hiring one person and expecting that new manager to be an expert in every aspect of data protection. In addition, each expert in the vCISO team will be working for many clients. So, this is a more efficient way to spread the benefit of the knowledge that each expert has accumulated.

On every level, getting a slice of time from each member of a specialist CISO team costs less and brings you access to better quality advice than hiring one person and hoping for the best. For one thing, you can preview the quality of the team by investigating the other businesses that the team currently serves.

You might never get any of those experts on your premises. However, the ability to access expertise remotely allows you to pick a team made up of the leading experts in each field from all over the globe. That is a much better prospect than just hiring the best expert available locally.

Commissioning a vCISO

The strategy you take in your task of hiring a vCISO depends on the size of your organization and the type of business you are in. However, there is one essential characteristic of the vCISO approach. That is, you outsource the responsibility of defining requirements for data security ultimately.

The Chief Information Security Officer job title implies an oversight of all aspects of data security, not a manager to work on data protection needs. Although you outsource the responsibility for information security, you can never get rid of the legal liability. The Chief Information Security Officer is expected to report to the Board, but the company’s Directors still hold the ultimate responsibility for system security.

Responsibilities of a Chief Information Security Officer

The purpose of contracting a vCISO is to fulfill the functions that a business would otherwise need to hire a Chief Information Security Officer to manage. Therefore, to know what requirements should be stated in the contract for the vCISO service, you need to know what a CISO does.

Typically, the duties of a Chief Information Security Officer are:

  • Defining existing data storage and the types of data held
  • Identifying the relevant data protection standards to which the business needs to comply
  • Auditing current security procedures
  • Collating documentation on past data security breaches
  • Identifying procedural security weaknesses
  • Defining data security priorities
  • Identifying suitable software to implement the new security policies
  • Drawing up requirements for activity logging and compliance reporting
  • Completing a data governance strategy
  • Explaining new, secure working practices
  • Instituting a list of penalties for employee non-compliance
  • Planning, defining, and conducting employee security awareness training
  • Implementing compliance auditing

You can start researching virtual Chief Information Security Officer services with that list in mind.

The Best Virtual Chief Information Security Officer Services

There aren’t a lot of data security consultancies in the world, and of those, not all specifically offer a virtual Chief Information Security Officer service.

What should you look for in a vCISO service? 

We reviewed the market for virtual Chief Information Security Officer services and analyzed the options based on the following criteria:

  • A consultancy service that can provide all of the functions that a CISO would fulfill
  • A provider willing to repay their clients should they fail to create a fully secure system recommendation
  • A consultancy that is established and has a list of references from business clients
  • A service that can provide layered documentation to explain the new data security plan to all stakeholders
  • A package that includes assessment, planning, implementation, and verification
  • A free initial consultation to scope the requirements
  • A credible service that can win the confidence of all stakeholders at a reasonable price

Using this set of criteria, we looked for a list of virtual Chief Information Security Officer services that we would be happy to recommend.

1. Fractional CISO

Fractional CISO is an agency for fully qualified data security experts who are experienced in working as Chief Information Security Officers. From your own experience with running a business and its IT infrastructure, you know that much of the expertise you need is only required when putting working practices and systems in place. Once that intense work has been completed, the requirement for any management job is to make sure everyone works efficiently according to procedures.

Key Features:

  • Flexible terms of service
  • Option to get an expert on-site
  • You see the credentials of the CISO before committing
  • All consultants are of high status
  • Ability to book blocks of weeks

You need guaranteed expertise when sorting out your business’s data protection strategy and organizing systems to ensure compliance with data privacy standards and legislation. Fractional CISO caters to this need. The company has placed many CISOs with clients over the years, and they expect that a typical requirement will be for a CISO who will audit the company’s data management strategy and set up a new system.

Typically, a business will require the vCISO for a total of eight weeks, with the first two of those weeks seeing the temporary Chief Information Security Officer working on site. The length of the on-site term can be adjusted. However, be aware that in-person vCISO services are higher than the charge for remote work.

This is an excellent service because it can be tailored to suit businesses of any size. For example, large corporations that intend to get a full-time CISO on board can use the CISO to interview and assess candidates. The virtual Chief Information Security Officer can also be hired as a stopgap between a departing CISO and the replacement available to start work. Other scenarios that this service could be used for would be vacation or maternity leave cover.

Fractional CISO hits the sweet spot that provides a lower cost, no commitment, high-caliber consultant while allowing the client to choose specific expertise and know that it is getting that specialist’s dedicated attention. You need to book a consultation to determine how much your requirements will cost.


  • The dedicated consultant gets to know your business and its people well
  • You can establish a long-term relationship with a specialist
  • It is possible to request a repeat contract with the same consultant on an as-needed basis
  • Get a CISO of a caliber that would not otherwise be available in your area
  • Gain better experience for your staff by having them work alongside a leading expert


  • Only intended as a temporary solution – relying on the service full time would be expensive


Fractional CISO is our top pick for a virtual Chief Information Office service because it gets you the full attention of a reputable data security expert who is fully qualified to fill the CISO position. There is no fixed package for this service because the requirements for each business are different. Hire the vCISO to set up your data protection strategy and put governance in place or use the service to provide a stop-gap between hires or help you find and interview to fill a Chief Information Security Officer position.

OS: Cloud-based, Windows, Mac, Linux

2. Conosco


Conosco is an IT consultancy that can provide vCISO services. It also has virtual Chief Technology Officer (vCTO) and virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) roles. It is possible to get a combination of services from this consultancy on an ongoing basis. For example, you might work with the vCIO service but bring in a vCISO for a short time to set up your data governance system.

Key Features:

  • Benefit from a team approach
  • No long-term commitment
  • Cheaper than a full-time CISO
  • Flexible service plans

With the Conosco service, you make a contract with the consultancy, and they choose the individual specialist from their team who is the best pick for your needs. This specialization goes down to specific market sectors or regions.

Conosco offers a team, so you won’t necessarily get the same person working on your account all of the time. This managed service approach is less personal than the dedicated CISO option. However, it enables the Conosco consultants to specialize even further. So, for example, your project might require an expert in legally compliant working practices, a systems analyst to design a data protection system, and a training expert to get your staff security-aware. Thus, Conosco provides the best person for each task rather than an all-rounder to run the whole project.


  • A team of experts who are available to businesses anywhere in the world
  • A blended approach that provides the best consultant for each specialist task
  • Remote work, so no need to provide a suitable office
  • Flexible service plans, so book consultancy time for only as long as you need


  • The structure of this service makes it difficult to establish a rapport with one expert

The Conosco service isn’t meant to be an on-site solution. The vCISO service is available worldwide, and flying in one of the experts to your location could prove very expensive, depending on where in the world you are located. In addition, although the vCISO will have good experience with suitable tools to get your operation compliant, you will need other technical staff to install and manage those systems.

3. BSI

A consultancy team delivers BSI’s virtual Chief Information Security Officer service. This package is aimed explicitly at auditing businesses and setting them up with data governance systems that specifically address the legal issues of their sector and location. As such, this is more of a data governance consultancy package rather than a rent-a-CISO service.

Key Features:

  • Almost always, remote work
  • A team of experts
  • Specialists in creating new systems

The BSI vCISO team works remotely, plugging into your existing Operations team to provide them with the specialist knowledge that they need to create and run a new data protection system. The benefit of this approach is that your team will understand a method that it had a hand in creating than it would with a system developed by strangers and then handed over to them.


  • A team of specialists that are highly experienced in defining data protection systems
  • Advice on working practices and employee training
  • A presentation on the legal requirements that affect your company’s operations


  • No one-to-one option

As every business’s requirement for a vCISO is different, there is no one-size-fits-all package that you can buy. Therefore, your buyer’s journey starts by filling out an inquiry form to set up an online consultation.

4. Cyber Management Alliance

Cyber Management Alliance

Cyber Management Alliance is a cyber security consultancy with a team of experts qualified to fulfill the CISO role. In addition, its vCISO service gives you access to that team remotely rather than a single person who will come to your offices to act as your Chief Information Security Officer.

Key Features:

  • Flexible services
  • A skills pool of top cyber security experts
  • Remote consultancy

The virtual Chief Information Security Officer service is very flexible. It can provide a team for a project to set up your data security environment or act as an ongoing support package with access to advice from cyber security experts.


  • Access to rare and costly cyber security expertise
  • Remote consultancy is available to businesses all over the world
  • Trains up your IT staff as the project develops


  • No option for short-term in-person vacation cover

The cost of the service and the precise format of your plan depend entirely on your requirements. Having worked in the field for many years, Cyber Management Alliance has built up a menu of projects and tasks that it can contribute to – but this is just a list of suggestions and not a boundary to the capabilities. So book a consultancy call to investigate this vCISO provider.