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HOCO CISO program breaking ground with "virtual" CISOs

Grant Hatchimonji | March 25, 2014
It may not be a revelation that security isn't a top priority for many organizations, but what about those companies that want to have a full-time CISO and simply cannot afford it? Enter the CISO "in residence" program in Howard County, Maryland.

Thanks to the universal appeal to businesses of all sizes and with various needs, Taule says that there's been no shortage of organizations seeking out the program's virtual CISOs.

"In terms of consumption of the service, demand has been surprisingly high," said Taule. "A lot of it is, 'Tell me what you can help me with.'" But there are others, he added that want to talk but are concerned about the legal protections around the program. The Tech Council does have legal documents to protect the virtual CISOs so their liabilities are managed, but people still have questions about how confidentiality is managed. "Some people don't want to put things in email and the like, so we're also getting people who are also asking to speak in person."

In terms of future plans, there isn't anything official for an expansion or continuation of the HOCO CISO program, but Taule and Wynn aren't ruling it out, either. At the very least, they're hoping that the program will serve as an example for others to follow.

"I would love for the HOCO CISO initiative to be the exemplar for others in the region," said Wynn. "And that means either embracing this kind of initiative and bringing us in to get it up and running or figuring it out themselves. We want the tide to rise for all and I absolutely see this to moving other municipalities and jurisdictions."

Taule was similarly optimistic, though was clear to emphasize that there was no current plan for commercialization.

"Sure, we've talked about that possibility, but there's no plan now," said Taule. "But we certainly recognize that that opportunity exists and we would be foolish not to pursue it." Both he and Wynn, however, were clear in stating that they have no plans to do anything other than support the initiatives that they have going on within the Howard County Tech Council.

Expansion — commercialized or not — of a program like HOCO CISO would serve to benefit everybody, but only if people are willing to collaborate, said Taule.

"We've long since recognized that the bad actors cooperate with each other," he said. "On the good guys' side, we tend to err on the side of caution and don't always collaborate when we should. [We should] strengthen the good guys' side for once."


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