When it comes to cybersecurity, there are few things more essential than flexibility. Companies must adapt to the growing threats of cybercrime with increasingly complex safeguards. In some cases, those best equipped for the job are those that supply protections from outside. This is why many companies are turning to “fractional” IT security advisors rather than relying only on full-time staffers. Read on to learn more about this trend and why it might be right for your business.
Benefits of Hiring a Fractional IT Security Advisor
A fractional cybersecurity advisor, also referred to as a managed security services provider (MSSP), is a qualified expert or team of experts that provide cybersecurity solutions to companies. Often, this comes at a fraction of the cost relative to full-time IT and cybersecurity staffing. The potential benefits are endless, but this blog will focus on three:
- Implementing security infrastructure from scratch or optimizing your current systems
- Maximizing staff-wide awareness of IT best practices and specific threat intelligence
- Simplifying and ensuring seamless compliance across required regulatory frameworks
By the end of this blog, you’ll understand both how an MSSP can help you and what to look for in the ideal MSSP for your business.
Benefit #1: General Cyberdefense Architecture
The first benefit of a fractional cybersecurity advisor comes in the form of overall security architecture implementation. The MSSP you contract may function in a top-level managerial role, such as a virtual chief information security officer (vCISO), for an already functioning system. This alone saves costs, as vCISO pricing is significantly less expensive than it costs to recruit, hire, onboard, and retain a traditional, full-time, c-suite level CISO.
If your company’s IT infrastructure is newer or less developed, the MSSP can be tasked with designing, developing, and integrating an entirely new framework. This optimizes and makes uniform every element within it, such as the hardware and software used, the network settings on them, and all monitoring and auditing capacities you’ll need to keep them secure long-term.
Integrating Remote and Cloud Computing Security
One particular area of cybersecurity architecture that is especially critical to optimize is the one farthest from the physical proximity of your company: its remote and cloud computing services. As employees take on an increasing amount of work responsibilities from their homes and other locations, your company becomes vulnerable to the security flaws of those system architectures.
The primary benefits of robust cloud computing security services include but are not limited to:
- Intelligent security that adapts alongside your business’s changing cloud or remote needs
- Complete coverage across all networks and devices that contact-sensitive information
- Efficiency across the workforce, as a more secure cloud, facilitates unmatched flexibility
- Enhanced productivity, resulting from workers’ ability to handle work from any location
As many reports indicate, businesses in all industries need to prepare for a new normal, or what McKinsey calls the “next normal,” in which an ever-increasing amount of work will be remote.
Benefit #2: Awareness Across the Workforce
The second biggest benefit of hiring a fractional IT security advisor is that it’s one of the best ways to increase your staff’s understanding of IT security procedures and threat intelligence.
There are two primary ways in which an MSSP can optimize your entire staff’s awareness:
- A thorough cybersecurity awareness training program, including formal onboarding training and regular updates and assessments based on current threat intelligence and recent attacks on peer companies. Live activities and tests help solidify best practices.
- A robust vulnerability and threat management program, including monitoring all your hardware and software for potential weaknesses, indexed against up-to-date intelligence on threats impacting other companies to determine risk (potential likelihood and impact).
These programs help to guarantee that every person employed by your company is operating from an informed position of strength as an active participant in the culture of security. Ideally, an MSSP’s influence will reach beyond your staff and also to your network of strategic partners.
Monitor, Manage and Reduce Third-Party Risks
As you build relationships with your strategic partners, like vendors and service providers, they will become increasingly close to your company. Over time, they will function less as extensions of the company and more like bona fide wings. And while there can be many benefits to these relationships, they also come with various risks—especially in the realm of cybersecurity.
This is the most significant reason companies need to implement a robust third-party risk management (TPRM) program. Coincidentally, a third-party IT security advisor is in a uniquely apt position to help you implement effective TPRM, being among the very parties that need to be managed. A quality fractional advisor will optimize all elements and stages of your relationships, from initial recruitment through onboarding and then throughout retention and (if needed) termination.
Benefit #3: Legal and Regulatory Compliance
The final benefit is the most straightforward. A fractional security advisor helps you avoid all costs and legal penalties of non-compliance associated with regulations you need to follow. Three of the most common and critical compliance frameworks you may need to follow are:
- PCI-DSS/PA-DSS – If your company accepts payments via credit card, it will need to follow the Data Security Standards (DSS) of the Payment Card Industry’s (PCI) Security Standards Council (SSC). If it uses payment applications, the PA-DSS may also apply.
- NIST/CMMC – If your company works with or for the Department of Defense (DoD), it will need to protect controlled unclassified information (CUI) and related data per the controls in National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-171 and, moving forward, the Cybersecurity Model Maturity Certification (CMMC).
- HIPAA/HITECH – If your company works in the healthcare industry, it’s likely a covered entity that needs to follow the Health Insurance Portability and Accessibility Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and its Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification rules to avoid Enforcement.
Compliance is not a finite set of responsibilities. For example, rather than implementing all required controls once and forgetting about them, you’ll need to monitor and update them over time.
Robust Mapping, Patch Monitoring, and Continuity
For many companies, one of the biggest challenges of overall compliance is navigating multiple frameworks simultaneously. For example, a company might need to comply with all of the frameworks listed above. However, if you’re a software as a service (SaaS) provider with clients in the healthcare industry and DoD who pay you by credit card, you’ll need to map controls between HIPAA, NIST/CMMC, and PCI-DSS. A fractional cybersecurity advisor can simplify all of that.
Adding to and diversifying this set of challenges is the fact that the compliance frameworks themselves are dynamic, with changes over time necessitating updates to your own practices. That’s why effective compliance advisory also needs to include a robust patch monitoring program to identify any areas that need to be updated, then devise and apply patches.
RSI Security: Professional IT Security Advisors
For the reasons detailed above, most companies can benefit from hiring a fractional security advisor. Whether you need help implementing basic cybersecurity controls, monitoring for risks and vulnerabilities, or ensuring long-term compliance, the experts here at RSI Security are happy to help.
Our team boasts over a decade of experience assisting clients of all sizes and across all industries. To make us your IT security advisor, contact RSI Security today!