Selecting a partner for your security requirements is similar to IT procurement decisions you have made before – and will probably follow the traditional 3 questions, with a twist…..
Question 1: DIY or managed services?
As with all IT services, when it comes to cyber-security, businesses have a choice; manage the security piece themselves, use selective point solution support, or use a managed service provider (MSP) to take care of the whole problem.
Taking the MSP route is increasingly popular, which is probably because of the fast-evolving sophistication of blended threats and the regulations bringing stringent requirements for safeguarding of data.
Avoiding data breaches is now seen by many organisations as the number one IT imperative after operational continuity. There are many benefits of outsourcing cyber-security requirements to an MSP, but the process is not without its complexities.
Most organisations choose to work with an MSP for one (or more) of the following reasons:
- A shortage of available (or affordable) in-house skills
- The scale and complexity of technologies required
- The speed with which the threat landscape changes
- The need for 24-7-365 protection
- Budgetary or headcount constraints
- A business preference to outsource
Underpinning all of these reasons is the reality that the speed with which new attack formats and vulnerabilities develop and evolve is increasing all the time, meaning that internal IT teams are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up.
Your MSP will:
- Work around the clock because data breaches don’t only happen in business hours
- Provide a range of integrated services, expertise, technologies and processes
- Provide cyber-security for a fixed cost model
- Free up internal resources to focus on core operational business functions
- Detect and respond to threats and attacks as soon as — or before — they arise, thereby minimising network downtime
- Integrate and manage technologies from multiple security vendors to provide a consolidated solution
Question 2: If managed, which elements are you considering?
Do you want to outsource the entire security function? Or supplement existing in-house security capabilities with bought-in skills to fill a gap? Are you looking to outsource what you currently do, or bring in additional security measures?
As well as the ‘usual’ IT security functions like antivirus and anti-spam, consider how you manage:
- Cyber-security threat monitoring and response
- Business-wide software updates
- Firewall policy management
- 24-hour server monitoring
- Operational continuity and back ups
- Data protection
- Specialised functions such as penetration testing
Question 3: Which provider is best for you?
When selecting and appointing your security provider you should follow the usual selection criteria:
- Fit with your business objectives
- References and case studies
- Service level agreements
- Skills, qualifications, certifications and awards
- Systems and processes
- Scalability and flexibility
- Financial stability
- Transition management
This question does include one significant twist to consider. Which is, should you be working with someone who just does security, or should you work with a provider who can support your much wider IT infrastructure, platform and support challenges?
Single solution area providers sound like specialists, so you may think that’s a good option. But that also brings with it limitations and in our experience unnecessary hand-offs. An experienced, mature IT managed service provider has the resource, skills, tools and in our case an integrated SOC – meaning as we manage users and infrastructure, we can instantly observe cyber-security challenges for our customers and seamlessly respond without handover, delay or confusion.