Now, more than ever, businesses are looking to strengthen their security against cyber threats and attacks. There are several bases that need to be covered when it comes to defending against cyber attacks. Small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), in particular, are at a significant risk since they don’t usually have the expertise and resources at hand to build a strong line of defence.
The Problem of IT Security Staff Shortage
Large companies reportedly spend up to 9% of their total IT budget on security, and this number is only expected to further increase. CyberSeek stated that in 2017, there were 780,000 people employed in cybersecurity positions in the US, and about 350,000 positions remained unfilled. This number of empty positions is expected to increase significantly in 2018. SMBs will have to compete with larger companies for access to resources from this small pool of talent.
The MSSP Option
To combat this shortage of internal IT security resources, many businesses are looking at partnering with a managed security service provider (MSSP). An MSSP can help with monitoring and management of your security devices and systems. They will usually provide services such as managed firewalls, intrusion detection, vulnerability scanning, virtual private network, and anti-virus solutions. They employ high-availability security operation centers (either from their own facilities or from other data center providers) to provide 24/7 services. This can help to reduce the number of in-house security personnel you will have to hire, train, and retain in order to maintain an acceptable security plan.
In short, MSSPs do two core things:
• Monitor, manage, and mitigate security events
• Manage devices
How do you choose the right MSSP partner?
Before reaching out to an MSSP, you should be comfortable partnering with an external team for your IT security needs. Some organizations may be prohibited from sub-contracting security services out, so it is good to first understand your organization’s policies on the subject. Here are some additional aspects to consider when choosing an MSSP.
Market validation: You should consider market validation, such as awards, reviews, or rankings of the MSSPs offerings, as provided by independent analysts and vendors. Analysts usually perform detailed field checks with the MSSP’s customers when performing and publishing research on IT security.
Specialized or generalized MSSPs: Some MSSPs may provide a wide range of services, while others might have expertise only in a few specialized areas. Depending on your needs, you may find greater value in partnering with a specialized or generalized MSSP.
Service level agreements (SLAs): The language in SLAs can often vary dramatically between MSSPs. You need to pay attention to certain important questions – what pieces of security will the MSSP manage, and what will be maintained by your in-house team? In the case of an emergency, such as an imminent security breach, will the MSSP offer special services or contribute more hours? Further, in the case of ambiguity regarding how services will be rendered, how will this ambiguity be resolved?
Domain knowledge: If you are in a highly regulated industry, such as healthcare or financial services, which requires high compliance load, you should consider MSSPs with strong and proven experience within your industry.