The idea of outsourcing critical responsibilities that determine your stakeholders’ safety and security may seem stressful at first. After all, cybersecurity was traditionally handled by internal team members who are incentivized to keep the company safe. But there are many compelling reasons why third-party IT security service providers are an excellent solution to companies’ cyberdefense issues and general cybersecurity concerns.
Five Reasons You Should Outsource Your IT Security
Flexibility is critical to stay ahead of threats facing your company. An external solution provides this flexibility while specializing in all security measures necessary to keep your company safe. In this blog, we’ll break down five of the most significant benefits of remote security outsourcing solutions:
- Optimization of your baseline security infrastructure and architecture implementation
- Advisory and ongoing mapping and patch management for all regulatory requirements
- Minimization of risk, threat, and vulnerability through robust monitoring and management
- Simplification of IT and security oversight through executive-level management solutions
- Implementation of the complex and security safeguards for the most advanced threats
While these benefits are a near-guarantee from the best providers, that doesn’t mean you’ll find them with every IT outsourcing services company. That’s why it’s essential to know what third-party IT security teams should offer.
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What to Look for in an IT Security Service Provider
Before looking at the most critical ways in which a managed security services provider (MSSP) can help your company, you need to know exactly what an MSSP is and what qualities to look for. First and foremost, your ideal cybersecurity partner should act as an extension of your own company. Rather than functioning like any other vendor or supplier, an MSSP needs to integrate into the company and become familiar with your IT and security staff.
Beyond seamless integration, an MSSP should also offer premium cybersecurity services at a fraction of what they would cost to implement yourself. MSSPs are staffed with experts from all fields related to cybersecurity and IT more broadly, and that excess of resources ensures both quality and value.
Reason #1: Optimizing Your Baseline Protections
No matter how big or small your company is or what industry you do business in, you will need protection against cyberattack risks. Hacks, theft of credentials, and distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) can grind operations to a screeching halt. Therefore, the first critical line of defense needed to mitigate these primary threats is implementing sound IT and security infrastructure.
Remote and cloud computing solutions have rapidly proliferated across most industries. This has further increased and diversified the risks businesses face daily. Companies may choose to take an incident management approach and deal with attacks as they happen, which requires diligent monitoring, intelligent prioritization, and a well-developed rapid response plan. Additionally, they can reduce the number and severity of attacks with foundational protections like antivirus and firewall solutions. Engaging an MSSP is the best way to integrate and update these defenses for long-term safety and security.
Highlights of an Effective Cybersecurity Architecture
One critical factor in successful architecture implementation is flexibility. With the help of a quality MSSP, you can design interlocking systems optimized for any on-the-fly adjustments. Furthermore, it should encompass all elements of your company, physically and virtually, including but not limited to:
- Information security, maintenance, and lifecycle management for all hardware and endpoints such as computers, servers, databases, networks, communications, and mobile devices.
- Initial configuration baselines and ongoing monitoring and maintenance of software critical to security, including programs, interfaces, ciphers, application programming interfaces (APIs), remote services, and the newer browser-controlled progressive web applications (PWA) developed or in use by the company on-premises or cloud.
- Another critical consideration is visibility and communication across all components of your software and hardware. You need to monitor interactions between systems at a glance, ideally all from one easily accessible dashboard. This idea is closely tied to our next point.
Reason #2: Covering Legal and Regulatory Bases
Another compelling reason you should outsource IT and security to an MSSP is that compliance advisory services can facilitate the complex, challenging world of compliance.
For example, consider three regulatory situations, from most niche to most widely applicable:
- DFARS/NIST/CMMC – The Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation (DFARS) requires safeguards for all Department of Defense (DoD) contractors. You’ll need to implement the Cybersecurity Model Maturity Certification (CMMC), including all of the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-171 and other frameworks.
- HIPAA/HITECH – All four of the Privacy Rule, Security Rule, Breach Notification Rule, and Enforcement Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accessibility Act of 1996 apply to all covered entities. This includes providers, plan administrators, and health clearinghouses, along with and their business associates adjacent to the industry.
- PCI-DSS/PA-DSS – The Security Standards Council (SSC) of the broader Payment Card Industry (PCI) governs regulations that apply to all businesses that accept their payments via credit card, which requires Data Security Standard (DSS) compliance, or via other payment platforms, which fall under the Payment Application DSS (PA-DSS).
Your company may need to implement these frameworks, along with others, depending on your industry and other elements of your business. You’ll also need to ensure that your systems are completely up to date to match compliance requirements.
Patch Monitoring Leads to Long-Term Compliance
Compliance requires constant, long-term monitoring for gaps and immediate research, prioritization of critical patches, and a routine updates and patches program. This is true for companies with just one framework, especially for those that straddle numerous industries. However, for those with multiple frameworks, mapping or adapting the pertinent controls across frameworks is one essential element the best MSSPs provide as part of a broader patch monitoring service.
For example, consider the case of the first compliance situation detailed above — prospective or current DoD contractors who need to migrate onto the CMMC framework. Whereas it is built upon NIST SP 800-171 (and others), its controls and reporting protocols are far from identical. A quality MSSP, such as RSI Security, will work with this company to reduce redundancies and make the transition from one framework to another as seamless as possible.
Reason #3: Maximizing Risk/Threat Intelligence
The third reason your business will benefit from an MSSP is they can leverage their advanced tools for rapid risk identification and provide a structured approach to risk and threat management. Oversight of your threat and vulnerability management includes robust monitoring and mitigation of three primary attack vectors related to data protection:
- Vulnerabilities – Frequent network scans are imperative for identifying vulnerabilities. Hackers could exploit weaknesses or flaws in your IT and security architecture, such as unpatched hardware and software as well as missing configurations in firewalls or inadequate access controls. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a complete and prioritized asset inventory to ensure total inclusion in vulnerability scans. The asset’s prioritization and how the severity is categorized will dictate the order in which you patch your defenses.
- Threats – Not all MSSPs are created equal. You should look for one that offers managed detection and response (MDR) services. This active threat hunting doesn’t wait for the threat to appear but actively hunts for threats. The size of your attack surface depends on a few things, including your company’s vulnerabilities, size, industry, location, and political climate.
- Risks – Risk comprises the relationship between vulnerabilities and threats, including a given attack’s likelihood and potential impact. This calculation can be expressed as a single value to provide insight into your risk exposure (attack surface). In addition, this evaluation provides the data to implement changes necessary to align your organization with your pre-established risk appetite thresholds.
The above is an expansion to the definitions adapted from the NIST Special Publication 800-30, and they constitute one way a business can identify indicators of potential harm. But however your company chooses to do it, it’s imperative to make all risks easily navigable from an accessible centralized dashboard.
Why (and How) to Account for All Third-Party Risks
Vulnerabilities, threats, and risks impacting your strategic partners will likely impact you, too. That’s why when talking about threat and vulnerability management internally, companies must also look to optimize their third-party risk management (TPRM).
If a vendor or supplier you work with is experiencing an attack, hackers may gain access to data that could jeopardize your company, irrespective of your internal security. This is why it’s critical to make your third-parties’ security a critical part of your own security through robust monitoring.
Effective TPRM begins with the recruiting and vetting process. Your MSSP will help to assess businesses vying for contracts; then, with your approval, the MSSP will begin the onboarding process, which includes training and integration into your broader threat management protocols. From there, TPRM effectively manages all your security-relevant interactions throughout the contract lifespan.
Reason #4: Simplifying Security and Accountability
While many of the reasons above have involved robust, complex cyberdefense practices, there is also immense value to be found in the way an MSSP can simplify your security. One way in which companies have found success in remote security outsourcing relationships is through employing a virtual alternative to the chief information and security officer (CISO) — a vCISO.
Robust vCISO services simplify matters of cybersecurity, from compliance to TPRM. And they do so at a significant discount relative to their traditional CISO counterparts. A CISO is typically a member of the c-suite. They’re at a high enough level that he or she reports directly to the CEO or CIO. This can translate to costs in the $200-$300 thousand dollar range, while a vCISO can cost as little as 30-40% of that figure. By saving money on this position, the extra funds can be put toward more robust cybersecurity resources.
Best Practices for Cybersecurity Awareness Training
Another vector for simplicity is how an MSSP can unify and optimize your IT and security awareness training programs. This includes onboarding, offboarding, and required annual training for compliance and broader security, along with a robust slate of other courses and modules, including:
- General-purpose IT and security content, available in both synchronous courses and asynchronous resources, like literature with accompanying guides and video lectures
- Targeted courses on areas of concern or relevance, such as applicable compliance or risk monitoring best practices or modules related to risks prevalent in your industry
- Advanced live-action activities or assessments for specific risk vectors, such as the incident response tabletop exercise, to gauge readiness in a low-stakes environment
On that note, the efficacy and reach of these advanced training modules will depend upon your company’s ability to implement commensurately complex safeguards.
Reason #5: Implementing Advanced Safeguards
Finally, the last impactful benefit of an outsourced MSSP is the ease with which you will be able to integrate the most advanced and complex cybersecurity practices. Building on the stable IT foundations detailed in reason #1 and the training detailed just above, your MSSP can bolster your defenses to withstand the most dangerous forms of hacking and other kinds of cybercrime.
In the CMMC framework in particular, these are labeled advanced persistent threats (APT), and it takes an equally advanced, persistent commitment to cyberdefense to stop them. For example, a standard firewall might not fare well against the best-disguised malware, ransomware, or even certain phishing campaigns, like “whaling” or “spear-phishing.” To stop these threats beyond security awareness training, you’ll need proactive web filtering, which extends your firewalls’ reach and monitoring capabilities.
Benefits of Internal and External Penetration Testing
Another example of an advanced technique MSSPs are uniquely apt to help with is the ethical form of hacking known as penetration testing. In this counter-intuitive take on cyberdefense, a company hires a pen-tester to exploit their systems to study how and where they are most vulnerable.
There are two primary approaches to penetration testing, each of which has a unique focus:
- Internal pen-testing – Also known as “white box” or “white hat” testing, the attacker begins from a position within your systems or with intricate knowledge thereof. The purpose is to study precisely how much damage they can do with that knowledge.
- External pen-testing – Also known as “black box” or “black hat” testing, the attacker begins from a position of ignorance with respect to your system. The purpose is to study how an attack originated by a stranger would begin and where they’d enter the system.
In some cases, companies may also elect for a hybrid or mixed approach called “grey” hat testing in which an attack begins externally then continues internally. Using an MSSP for any form of pen-testing is ideal because of its unique positioning both inside and outside the company.
Professional Cyberdefense Through RSI Security
To recap, there are many reasons your business should consider an IT security service provider to help manage or oversee your cyber defense program. These begin with implementing basic cybersecurity controls and then include benefits from regulatory compliance obligations to the most advanced security measures. Contact RSI Security today to get started!