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Staying secure and flexible with virtual CISO services

Jun 21, 2023
By: Ken Kulawiak

Every organization maintains data. And whether it’s proprietary information relating to the company products or client information and account transaction data, it all needs to be secured.

The security triad of ensuring an organization’s data stays confidential and keeps its integrity and availability hasn’t changed in the last 20-plus years. What has changed is the mindset and attention placed around securing data.

A shift seems to be occurring in organizations where boards and senior leadership understand the significant threats they face related to malicious cyber activity. They see the reputational, financial and legal risks that present themselves in the event of a data breach.

Meeting new security demands

As artificial intelligence (AI) systems become more mainstream and sophisticated, so do the attacks. However, the challenge to protect against this next level of sophistication becomes difficult because while the importance of data security has increased, the budgets for it often haven’t.

This issue is even more prevalent for financial institutions. With increased regulatory scrutiny, reduced budgets and overwhelmed staff, financial institutions face constant pressures around securing their data and their clients’ dollars and information.

Ransomware could cripple an organization’s balance sheet and reputation. Your financial institution must have a robust security strategy in place to ensure its holistic information security program limits any weaknesses and protects client data.

To create that strategy effectively, you need an individual to oversee these challenges and prioritize risk management and mitigation efforts.

The benefits of virtual CISO services

As regulatory demand around security programs increases and insurance carriers demand a higher level of compliance, incorporating a fractional security leader within your financial institution is one cost-effective option.

A virtual chief information security officer (vCISO) can bring a wealth of knowledge and experience at a fraction of the cost of a full-time security leader while maintaining the same dedication to protecting your institution’s data.

Here are four reasons why your financial institution should consider hiring a vCISO:

1. Strategy and risk management

Financial institutions manage large volumes of sensitive customer data, including personally identifiable information, financial records and transaction details. A vCISO can discuss risk management strategies, security frameworks, incident response plans and regulatory compliance requirements for that data.

By understanding risks and implementing proper controls, your financial institution can enhance your overall security posture. You’ll also be able to manage the overall information security life cycle for your organization, which consists of:

  • Risk assessment
  • Mitigation activities
  • The testing of controls
  • Policy updates
  • Reporting

2. Training leadership

Financial institutions need to stay up to date with the latest cybersecurity threats, trends and best practices. To keep your institution secure, it’s crucial that employees recognize and understand how to respond to potential threats.

A vCISO provides a platform to educate employees, stakeholders and customers about important security topics, including:

  • Phishing attacks
  • Ransomware
  • Data breaches
  • Secure coding practices
  • Compliance regulations
  • Emerging technologies
  • Password hygiene
  • Secure remote working practices
  • Social engineering attacks

3. Compliance and insurance

Regulatory mandates and insurance carriers are requiring financial institutions to appoint a defined leader to oversee security, and regulators are suggesting this leader be separate from IT leadership. The vCISO can oversee that the annual activities around the information security program are completed, such as reporting to the board of directors on status, vulnerability scanning, awareness training, policy approvals and risk management activities.

Insurers are increasing their scrutiny around programs, requiring that the security program implement a minimal level of required controls for payouts to be possible.

4. Budget

The costs associated with hiring a full-time security team and leader can become a heavy burden for an institution. A vCISO gives you a well-rounded security professional, who has led teams or performed all these types of work, at a fraction of the cost.

This individual can bring years of experience to help quarterback your information security program on a fractional basis. They’re also flexible, matching the number of hours needed for services based on the size, complexity and risk appetite of your financial institution.

How Wipfli can help

Wipfli’s vCISO services help give your financial institution on-demand access to the knowledge and leadership you need to stay in compliance and keep your data safe. Not only can we help you build a robust information security program, we can also assist you with larger projects, such as employee training and vendor risk management.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can provide crucial oversight for your financial institution.

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Ken Kulawiak
Senior Manager
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Bank on Wipfli blog
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