Mark Sheldon Villanueva

By: Mark Sheldon Villanueva on December 6th, 2023

Print/Save as PDF

How to Build Your Cybersecurity Without a CISO


When it comes to cybersecurity, the role of a dedicated Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is pivotal. A CISO brings strategic foresight, technical expertise, and exemplary leadership to an organization's cybersecurity endeavors. They serve as a linchpin for navigating the intricate and ever-evolving landscape of digital threats. However, the scarcity of qualified CISOs coupled with the substantial investment required for their recruitment presents a formidable challenge. 

Thankfully, even if your organization doesn’t have a dedicated CISO, there are still ways for you to implement robust security measures.  

Intelligent Technical Solutions (ITS) is a managed security service provider (MSSP) with years of experience helping businesses bolster their cybersecurity efforts. We’ve encountered companies that made cybersecurity implementation possible even without a CISO. In this article, we'll dive into whether you should invest in a CISO in the first place and how you can build your defenses without one. 

Should I Get a CISO for My Business? 

a person sitting infront of a laptop with features

While a dedicated CISO can provide valuable expertise and leadership to your organization, it's important to note that it's not for everyone. It could depend on several factors, like: 

  • The size of your company 
  • What industry you're in 
  • What your risk profile is like, or  
  • What regulations you need to comply with. 

In addition, getting a CISO while there's a skill shortage can be very expensive. That means small to midsize businesses (SMBs) and new companies might not have the budget allowance to allocate to cybersecurity leadership. 

Thankfully, not having a CISO is not a reflection of your commitment to cybersecurity. 

Organizations without one can still implement robust security measures by leveraging other resources. All you need is the will and the discipline to keep improving your cybersecurity posture. 

How to Build Your Defenses Without a CISO 

a person with cybersecurity precautions on a laptop

Building robust cybersecurity for your company is essential in today’s landscape. Here are some steps you can take to strengthen your defenses without a CISO: 

1. Adopt a Security-Focused Culture

Regularly educate and train employees on cybersecurity best practices, such as strong password management, recognizing phishing attempts, and safe browsing habits. Doing that will foster a culture of security awareness and make employees active participants in protecting company assets. 

cyberaware culture

2. Establish a Security Team

Someone needs to keep an eye on your security. That's why it's vital to designate individuals within the organization to take responsibility for all cybersecurity initiatives. This team can be led by an IT manager or a dedicated security officer, if available. Their role would involve overseeing security measures, implementing policies, and coordinating incident response. 

Free Network Assessment

3. Perform Regular Risk Assessments

It's important to actively look for any security gaps regularly. You can do that by conducting risk assessments to help identify and assess potential security risks specific to your company's industry, operations, and IT infrastructure. You can also perform regular vulnerability assessments and penetration tests to uncover weaknesses and address them promptly. 

4. Implement Multi-Layered Defenses

Deploy a combination of security measures, such as firewalls, antivirus software, intrusion detection systems, and encryption tools. Utilize network segmentation to isolate critical systems and protect against lateral movement by attackers. 

5. Develop Incident Response Plans

Prepare detailed incident response plans to guide your organization's actions in the event of a security breach or cyber attack. Your plan should clearly define roles, responsibilities, and communication protocols to ensure a swift and effective response that minimizes damage and facilitates recovery. 

6. Regularly Update Software and Patch Vulnerabilities

It's vital to keep all software and systems up to date with the latest security patches and updates. Many cyber actors will run through a list of known vulnerabilities to try and find one you might not have patched yet, then exploit it. That could allow them to access systems in your network with little to no effort, and it all could be prevented with a single update. 

7. Monitor and Respond to Threats

Another critical step is implementing a robust monitoring system to detect and respond to potential threats in real-time. You can utilize security information and event management (SIEM) solutions, intrusion detection systems, and log analysis tools if possible. Those will help you identify suspicious activities and take action more quickly. 

8. Engage with Third-Party Vendors

One of the best ways to bolster your cybersecurity efforts is to partner with reputable third-party vendors and service providers. An MSSP can provide you with expertise and security services without the need for a dedicated CISO in-house. They can provide support in areas such as threat intelligence, managed security services, and security awareness training. 

9. Stay Informed and Adapt

Knowledge is one of the best shields against cybersecurity threats. That's why staying on top of the latest cybersecurity trends, emerging threats, and best practices is crucial. When possible, participate in industry forums, attend conferences, and engage with cybersecurity communities to gather insights that will continuously improve your company's defenses. 

a person that is cybersecured

Need Help Building Your Defenses Without a CISO? 

A dedicated CISO can be a valuable asset to a company, but it's definitely not for everyone. For smaller and newer companies, a CISO might be a luxury. They're better off deferring when the time is right. Thankfully, you don't need security leadership to bolster your defenses. You just have to follow the steps we mentioned above. 

By implementing those measures and maintaining a proactive approach to cybersecurity, your company can significantly enhance its security posture and reduce the risk of cyber incidents even without a CISO. 

At ITS, we are dedicated to helping business owners make smarter decisions when it comes to cybersecurity. Find out how we can help by scheduling a free cybersecurity assessment. Or, you can check out the following resources for more information: 

Free Network Assessment