Security staff augmentation is one of the latest solutions to businesses trying to balance tech potential with cybersecurity risk. With each new advance and upgrade, new attack vectors emerge for hackers and malicious intrusions.
Most IT departments are not fully equipped to manage an organization’s security program. Cybersecurity staff augmentation offers a modest, scalable, and flexible solution that establishes best practices, tools, and assessment frameworks to put a company on the right track.
At RSI Security, our advisors generate ongoing feedback from business owners trying to understand which are the best cybersecurity solutions for their scope and budget. One popular solution is staff augmentation by way of a virtual CISO or full security advisory team.
If you can’t afford to increase your payroll for a full inhouse, cybersecurity team, augmenting your staff may be the more realistic option. The purpose of this article is to familiarize you with the concepts and processes of security staff augmentation.
Let’s begin by defining what cybersecurity staff augmentation is.
What is Cybersecurity Staff Augmentation?
Security staff augmentation, or cybersecurity staff augmentation, refers to temporarily augmenting – or supplementing – your IT department with security advisors.
Most IT professionals understand the basics of cybersecurity but maintain a job description that keeps them busy with managing a company’s overall digital infrastructure. As soon as a problem arises with a device, program, or Internet connection, your IT experts rush to the scene.
Preventing a security breach feels less urgent to most IT managers. Many of the critical tasks associated with protecting a network go unnoticed. But just because cybersecurity feels less urgent doesn’t mean that it is.
Additionally, IT experts in their current roles are essential. Business operations can grind to a halt without their help, and a crippled network can cost a company thousands in lost revenues.
Security staff augmentation works because it partners with IT departments to understand cybersecurity risks, establish sustainable protocols, test network firewalls, update company policy, and set up security tools that from then on need only to be monitored.
What is the Difference Between Staff Augmentation and Managed Services?
Staff augmentation and managed services do entertain some overlap. However, the staff augmentation approach focuses on contracted hours. In contrast, managed services represent a full project outsourcing approach.
When an organization already has some cybersecurity know-how and initiatives, they use staff augmentation to address specific weaknesses or complete a project in a timely manner. Typically, security staff augmentation involves close collaboration between company personnel and the contracted security advisory team.
If your organization has no cybersecurity knowledge, tools, or team members, outsourcing the bulk of your cybersecurity program – in a managed services setup – may be the better option.
What Roles Make Up an Augmented Security Staff?
Augmented staff have many different personnel variations. Partnering with a security advisory allows a third party expert to customize a team to meet your business needs. A security staff augmentation frequently includes (but is not limited to) a combination of the following cybersecurity roles:
A chief information security officer (CISO) is the chief architect of a cybersecurity program. They oversee all moving parts related to risk assessments, compliance certifications, penetration testing, and cybersecurity tool selection.
Traditionally an executive payroll position in a large corporation, CISOs have morphed into virtual and part-time roles for smaller enterprises. Virtual CISOs are among the most popular roles in small and medium-sized businesses.
Not only are virtual CISOs more affordable, but they are also more objective. Because they (and their team) serve a portfolio of clients, they rarely get tunnel vision and glean security insights from several industries at a time.
When choosing to augment your staff for cybersecurity purposes, selecting a virtual CISO is likely your first step. These individuals lead the other members of your cybersecurity team and report directly to you.
Much of cybersecurity work requires people to gather, organize, and interpret data. These people are analysts. Depending upon the security needs of your organization, you may need one to several analysts on your cybersecurity team.
Sometimes interchangeable with analysts, auditors look for problems in your current security framework. These individuals are critical thinkers with enormous attention to detail.
Most often, auditors play a key role in helping your organization meet various compliance standards, such as the CCPA or GDPR. While an auditing process is never comfortable, these experts find problems before someone outside your organization does. Auditors protect you from lawsuits, detect critical holes in your data management process, expose policy infractions among staff members, and more.
Another key role within your security staff augmentation is a technical writer. Second to a virtual CISO, technical writers are among the most critical team members to establishing a successful security program.
These experts receive information from analysts and translate that information into reports, network diagrams, disclosures, policy, and instruction manuals. At the conclusion of your cybersecurity setup and/or upgrades, quality technical writing ensures that your company can maintain what the augmented staff created.
Technical writers have years of experience in research and writing. It is their job to make complex information clear and concise. Many of their deliverables become training curriculums for your employees.
White Hat Hackers
It is difficult to know how secure your network is until someone tries to break in, and that’s where white hat hackers come in.
Penetration testing – or pen testing – is one of the most effective ways of detecting cybersecurity threats to your organization. That said, pen testing requires ground rules, impeccable data gathering (analysts), non-disclosure agreements, authentic hack attempts, and formal reporting.
White hat hackers intentionally break into your network and judge how easy it was to do so. At the leadership of the CISO, these professionals do their utmost to breach your cybersecurity measures. Naturally, they perform their duties in accordance with strict confidentiality standards and transparently divulge their efforts at the conclusion of pen testing.
These pen tests allow you to improve your security tools and processes. Additionally, white hat hackers help you assess the quality of your cybersecurity risks. For example, your hacker may have broken through one or two barriers, but layered security prevented them from accessing any critical data. Although no successful breach is ideal, the hacker couldn’t do any real damage, rendering this particular event harmless.
Who Needs Cybersecurity Staff Augmentation?
Most organizations that collect, store, and share consumer data require a security staff augmentation at some point. That said, each organization’s staff augmentation needs vary greatly.
In the case of large corporations, they may already have a full-time CISO and cybersecurity team. However, full-time CISOs recognize that they are not always objective. As such, they may employ the help of temporary experts to access an outsider’s view, run pen testing, or audit current policies/procedures.
Medium-sized businesses likely have a well-functioning IT department but lack a rigorous cybersecurity program. It makes sense for these organizations to augment their staff to establish security policies, standards, and tools.
Afterward, the IT department can either maintain what the augmentation team built or retain select members for the long-term.
Small businesses often don’t feel that they are in danger of a security breach when in fact, they are often primary targets for hackers. However, most small businesses operate on a modest budget and can’t afford more than a couple of IT employees – much less a full-time cybersecurity team.
Virtual CISOs serve small businesses and may recommend staff augmentation from time to time. This approach protects the small business from lost or stolen data while staying within a reasonable budget.
Cybersecurity staff augmentation is an excellent, affordable way to raise your cybersecurity to an acceptable level. Without expanding your payroll, you can access the best in cybersecurity labor and experience.
RSI Security serves businesses of all sizes to ensure that their organization is both compliant and safe from security breaches. Our team of virtual CISOs and advisors remain intimately knowledgeable of the evolving threat. Additionally, they can help you manage a secure operation and remain competitive in your market.