How a vCISO can help you with ISO 27001 compliance

Nicky Whiting Headshot
Nicky Whiting
Managing Director
01st February 2023

Information security is a major concern for many businesses for two reasons. Firstly is persistent threat of cyber attacks and data breaches. That’s why strong information security is a requirement to ensure the security of business and personal data. Secondly, it’s a key business enabler, with a push in recent times for all parts of a supply chain to become ISO 27001 certified.

Businesses that manage personal information will need to ensure they meet industry regulations and standards, such as the GDPR and ISO 27001. However, achieving compliance with either of these frameworks can prove to be challenging for many SMEs because of a lack of resources and understanding the importance of compliance. Both ISO 27001 and the GDPR are not trivial undertakings, and the impacts of incorrect compliance can range from lawsuits from a contract breach to multi-million fines from regulatory authorities.

Breaking down barriers to implementation has become more achievable with virtual Chief Information Security Officers (vCISO) for businesses with tighter budgets and specific security requirements. Here, we discuss whether your business needs a vCISO to help you achieve compliance to ISO 27001, and how one can help your business maintain certification while improving your information security management system (ISMS).

Does my business need a vCISO for ISO 27001?

It’s not mandatory, but it is a good idea. ISO 27001 doesn’t require businesses to appoint a vCISO or CISO to achieve certification. However, for smaller business, it’s hugely helpful to outsource a virtual CISO to bridge the knowledge gap, ensuing that procedures are correctly followed on the journey to compliance, and that the ISMS is correctly managed.

A vCISO can help bring vital knowledge and experience to businesses for whom a full-time CISO is difficult to recruit or afford. Virtual CISOs give SMEs a better understanding of ISO 27001 and what’s really required to maintain certification during its three-year recertification cycle.

How does a vCISO help maintain compliance?

We’ve written before about the challenges of implementing ISO 27001, but where a vCISO can really add extra value is in maintaining your certification. Successful compliance is an on-going, living part of your organisation which needs to be driven by someone with seniority and experience. In other words, by a virtual CISO. They’ll not only conduct robust reviews of your business's security framework, by hiring a vCISO, organisations can also benefit from the following key factors:

  1. Keep you on-track with your certification, management reviews, and internal audits
  2. Improving and evolving a business’s ISMS
  3. Board-level representation ensures that the business devotes the needed time and resources to maintaining compliance
  4. A top-down approach to maintaining compliance helps install security as a culture within your organisation

How does a vCISO help maintain compliance?

One of the most important elements of hiring a vCISO for ISO 27001 is to deliver better management of your ISMS, uncovering and dealing with nonconformities before they come bigger problems. In my experience, businesses generally have an idea of what ISO 27001 is, but they don’t have the same awareness of how to maintain ISO certification. More often than not, they also lack the resources to commit time and effort into effectively managing their certification. Your employees aren’t expected to be ISO or compliance experts, which is where a vCISO can help: taking the pressure away from your businesses and your employees.

Benefits of vCISO-supported ISO 27001 compliance

Best practices are an important part of any security assessment, so a good pen test will follow standard methodology:

  • A virtual CISO gives you credibility and demonstrates to customers and partners that the business takes compliance seriously.
  • vCISOs remove the risk of businesses treating information security like a box-ticking exercise. In addition to making certification easier, this also delivers better value from your compliance investment.
  • A vCISO will bring an objective perspective, placing more time and focus on helping you on your journey to ISO 27001 certification and continue to comply to its standards moving forward.
  • ISO 27001 requires full commitment as compliance doesn’t stop at certification. Just as good cyber security requires dedication, and this should be no different when working towards achieving and maintaining compliance.
  • A vCISO will ensure that the process of managing your ISMS and ISO 27001 is more streamlined compared to someone in-house who has been handed the responsibility but may not completely understand what is required to secure
  • effective management and maintenance of ISO 27001.
  • Help strengthening the effectiveness of their internal auditing processes is another key vCISO benefit. Your business will need to run regular audits to maintain ISO 27001 compliance and to show that your ISMS continues to meet
  • the requirements of the standard.
  • A vCISO occupies a position of trusted expertise within your organisation, and their insight and expertise can help in all areas of security, governance and compliance.


vCISOs are very often the best way for your business to meet, maintain, and drive forward ISO 27001 compliance. It’s much more cost-effective and available than a dedicated hire, meaning even smaller businesses can access top-tier strategy and insight. Ultimately this is boosting your reputation as a trusted organisation that follows security practices effectively and can contribute significantly to winning new business.

Nicky Whiting Headshot

Meet the author

Nicky Whiting Managing Director

As Managing Director of Bulletproof, Nicky’s responsible for innovating and evolving Bulletproof’s compliance services. With a varied and interesting career, Nicky shares amazing insight that directly helps businesses overcome their security and compliance challenges.

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