Hiring a Cybersecurity Consultant – Is It Worth It?

Many IT decision-makers ponder about potentially hiring a cybersecurity consultant. With such a dynamic and sophisticated threat landscape to contend with, genuine expertise and guidance are more valuable than ever.  

Companies operate in a rapidly evolving technological landscape that opens up larger attack surfaces that are more challenging to protect. Add increased and hard-to-understand legal obligations aimed at safeguarding digital information to the mix, and it’s easy to see where the struggle for robust cybersecurity comes from.  

This article describes the typical client experience when hiring a cybersecurity consultant and details the benefits of cybersecurity consultants for your business. When you finish reading, you’ll be better placed to make a more informed choice about hiring a cybersecurity consultant for your business.  

Finding a Good Cybersecurity Consultant  

Before delving into the experiences you’ll have working with a cybersecurity consultant, it’s worth briefly examining what exactly you should be looking for. After all, cybersecurity is a complex and diverse field.

The first point to note is that solid technical cybersecurity knowledge comes from both education and experience. Certifications worth looking for, depending on what your business needs help with, include: 

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP): Recognized globally, this cert covers a broad range of cybersecurity topics and requires five years of experience in related areas. 
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH): This certification is valuable for consultants involved in penetration testing and demonstrates ethical hacking prowess. 
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM): This cert focuses on management more than the technical details and is suitable for cases where you want a cybersecurity consultant to assist with broader strategy input.  

Look also for familiarity with popular cybersecurity tools for tasks like intrusion detection, vulnerability assessment, network traffic analysis and SIEM. Detailed knowledge of regulatory standards such as GDPR, HIPAA, PCI-DSS and others relevant to your industry is also beneficial. Pay as much attention to soft skills in consultants as technical knowledge. Look for a proven ability to articulate complex cybersecurity issues to non-technical stakeholders. You want consultants who integrate into your company culture and try to understand the broader business objectives while aligning cybersecurity strategies with these goals. Ethical integrity is also vital; consultants should grasp confidentiality requirements and not hesitate to sign non-disclosure agreements.  

The Client Experience When Hiring a Cybersecurity Consultant 

While individual clients or consulting firms may differ in their approaches slightly, here is a general overview of the typical client experience when working with a cybersecurity consultant.  

 Initial Contact and Needs Assessment

An initial discovery session usually involves meeting the consultant to discuss your specific concerns, needs and objectives as a client. A preliminary assessment in the form of a questionnaire or a conversation can provide a quick overview of your company’s current cybersecurity posture, risks and immediate concerns. 

Developing a Proposal  

At this point, the cybersecurity consultant outlines the scope of work. This means detailing what will be done, the methodologies used and the expected outcomes. Here is also the point for outlining the terms of engagement, including duration, costs, responsibilities and other contractual clauses. 

Deep Dive 

 The consultant often interviews employees and IT staff to better understand security practices, awareness levels and potential human-related vulnerabilities. A review of existing IT infrastructure, software and hardware also helps to provide a deeper dive into the overall state of your cybersecurity program. This could take several weeks or even months, depending on your company’s size and operational nature.   

Developing and Implementing Recommendations 

The consultant presents detailed findings to relevant stakeholders, including immediate concerns and potential long-term risks. Many consultants write a comprehensive report outlining suggested remedies, upgrades and processes to improve cybersecurity or compliance.   

Some consultants actively assist in implementing their recommendations, while others may simply guide your in-house IT team. Others might offer training to improve security areas like incident readiness, secure data handling or employee awareness. They also can provide support in the midst of a breach to help get the company back to normal operations.   

Benefits of Cybersecurity Consultants 

 Whether you source a highly sought-after individual and independent expert or opt for dedicated cybersecurity consulting services provided by a company, here are some benefits of cybersecurity consultants you can expect for your business.   

Achieving Compliance

Compliance sounds straightforward on paper—follow the obligations and avoid fines. However, the interplay of your specific IT environment, people and complex legal language makes it an ongoing challenge that many businesses struggle with. One study from 2022 in France found that 81 percent of companies weren’t compliant with their GDPR obligations.      

Cybersecurity consultants are well-versed in specific regulatory standards and how they interplay with various cyber controls. A cyber consultant can help you avoid the costly penalties and reputational repercussions of non-compliance by ensuring better alignment with regulations. A cybersecurity consultant might also guide your organization in meeting obligations and showcasing compliance as a strength to potential business clients, partners or customers. 

Finding Previously Undetected Issues

An external consultant brings a new set of specialist eyes to spot risks or gaps that your internal teams, accustomed to their environment and daily tasks, might miss. Many consultants specialize in ethical hacking, where they actively try to exploit vulnerabilities in specific systems or environments. This hacking expertise is also great for finding issues your IT or security teams might not know about.  

Tailored Cybersecurity Strategy

Cybersecurity consultants also excel at designing tailored cyber strategies that cater specifically to your company’s unique requirements, industry standards and business goals. Often, this involves using threat modeling to help you glean the specific adversaries and threats targeting your particular company or sector. With insights into emerging threats and emerging technologies, consultants can help your business strategize for not just the present, but also the future. 

Cybersecurity Support Without Adding Headcount 

Cybersecurity expertise commands a lot of money; CISSP-certified professionals easily earn six-figure salaries. Add experience on top of a good certification, and the cost of adding genuine cyber experts to your company’s headcount is expensive. On top of salary costs, there are other expenditures that come with full-time employees, like mandatory training, equipment and other benefits.   

And in a market where there are still 700,000 unfilled cyber positions, adding to that headcount is no mean feat as companies vie for the available talent with lucrative offers. Consultants provide expertise without the costs and struggle of adding to your company’s headcount. And, as cybersecurity needs or other conditions change, you can easily scale consultant engagements up or down to ensure the right level of support at any given time. 

So, is it Worth it?

Yes, hiring a cybersecurity consultant is worth it. A consultant brings technical acumen and an external perspective that can identify vulnerabilities your internal team might overlook. Consultants ensure your organization complies with ever-changing regulations by sharing their deep knowledge of industry-specific threats and solutions. They tailor strategies that align with your business objectives while fortifying your digital frontiers. 

Nuspire’s consulting services offer you a customized and more robust security program that accounts for your unique threat landscape, business priorities and security challenges. Our consulting services provide the people, processes and methodology, while you benefit from strong security. Nuspire’s consulting services cover areas like incident readiness, threat modeling, vCISO and more.  

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