Enterprises and their cybersecurity operations are dynamic. Sometimes, a significant event—such as navigating a data breach response and remediation—requires more expertise or involvement than your current employees can manage. If your organization expects or must manage sudden shifts, adopting cybersecurity staff augmentation strategies to temporarily contract additional staff provides the smoothest and most economical solution.
Cybersecurity Staff Augmentation Strategies
Cybersecurity staff augmentation supplements your organization’s IT security team with contracted advisors. Full-time security professionals often focus on day-to-day management tasks and ensuring service delivery. Your employees’ expertise in daily responsibilities and their restricted bandwidth create a need for cybersecurity specialists during certain projects and events.
Your cybersecurity staff augmentation strategies rely on choosing the precise moments when your organization benefits most from temporary, outsourced expertise. Potential projects and events that may call for augmented cybersecurity staff include:
- Building a security awareness program
- Compliance audits and reporting
- Testing security infrastructure and developed technologies
- Data breach and crisis management
- Documentation efforts
Typical Cybersecurity Staff Augmentation Roles
A cybersecurity staff augmentation service should be able to provide your organization with experts that extend your existing team with the following roles:
- Virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO) – Organizations typically contract a vCISO to provide executive-level oversight and guidance on projects or help them navigate a crisis.
- Analysts – Organizations typically contract analysts when they need assistance with data aggregation and analysis.
- Auditors – Organizations typically contract auditors to assess their cybersecurity infrastructure’s adherence to their regulatory compliance frameworks.
- Technical writers – Organizations typically contract a technical writer when they need to construct reports from data analysis or when preparing documentation.
- White hat pen-testers – Organizations typically contract pen-testers to perform tests that simulate cyberattacks on their security infrastructure or developers’ projects.
Your organization may choose to augment cybersecurity staff with one role or a whole team. Most organizations first contract with a vCISO to receive project or incident response management support.
Building a Security Awareness Program
You may need to contract outside help when building a security awareness program designed to educate your employees about organizational policies, security best practices, the latest cyberthreats, and response procedures. While they may be familiar with your current policies, your full-time IT security staff may not have forefront cyberthreat intelligence about emerging attack methods or preventative measures.
Security awareness programs are a holistic endeavor. Most organizations can be categorized into Level 1 or 2 of the SANS Institute’s Security Awareness Maturity Model. The first two levels respectively indicate that organizations either do not have a program or what they’ve implemented overwhelmingly focuses on compliance efforts. Thus, it’s likely that you must build your program from the ground up.
When implementing your program, organizations benefit from cybersecurity staff augmentation strategies that add a vCISO for guidance and management and a technical writer for documentation.
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Virtual CISO for Building a Security Awareness Programs
A vCISO will be able to leverage their cybersecurity and project management expertise to oversee your program’s construction and implementation.
Security awareness programs rely on high-level knowledge spanning myriad topics. You need someone familiar with cybersecurity infrastructure design and mapping compliance efforts—along with cyberattack detection and response—to establish the baselines on which employees will receive training. Once the program has been built, a vCISO can also help conduct employee training to improve security awareness throughout your organization rapidly.
A vCISO also provides real-world, executive-level management experience. Undertaking a security awareness program implementation will feature numerous project stages spread across different teams and efforts. Even if your organization already employs a full-time CISO, you may wish to contract with one who will focus exclusively on constructing and implementing your security awareness program due to the project’s extensive scope.
Technical Writer for Building a Security Awareness Program
Your security awareness program will require codified organizational policies and educational materials. They must be provided to employees during training and made readily available for later reference. While some generic and templated materials exist, they likely fail to meet your organization’s unique needs.
A contracted technical writer will compose your policies, incident response plan, and supplementary materials with a professional yet digestible voice and easily navigable organization.
For your training program to be effective, non-technical employees must be able to understand the content without losing interest too quickly or feeling lost while wading through too much jargon. In addition, if an incident occurs, a prompt response necessitates quickly locating pertinent sections within the provided resources.
Compliance Audits and Reporting
If your organization does not employ compliance specialists on your cybersecurity team, you may need to seek outside expertise. Whether your audit and reporting requirements follow regular timelines or ad hoc notice from regulatory entities, augmenting your cybersecurity staff helps simplify the process.
Organizations subject to regular audits or reporting (e.g., PCI DSS, HITRUST) may find their employees overburdened during the most demanding compliance efforts but do not have a need or the resources to hire full-time staff outside these periods. If so, temporarily contracting with an augmentation team will alleviate the recurring burden.
Organizations subject to ad hoc compliance investigations at a regulatory entity’s discretion (e.g., HIPAA) may suddenly find themselves unprepared and overwhelmed with audit and reporting efforts. The administrative challenge of finding and hiring additional employees makes staff augmentation a much more sensible option.
Augmentation Team Roles for Compliance Audits and Reporting
Each of the typical team roles that may be contracted for compliance-related cybersecurity staff augmentation strategies provides their own expertise that will help your organization prepare for or respond to auditing and reporting requirements:
- Virtual CISO – A vCISO will lead and manage overall efforts. Their compliance experience will allow them to develop an audit or a reporting roadmap and assign responsibilities to your security team employees. Even if you already employ a full-time CISO, you may wish to contract with one to serve as a dedicated audit and reporting project manager.
- Analysts – An analyst will assist with compliance audit and reporting efforts by identifying, aggregating, and analyzing relevant data, such as event logs recording user account activity.
- Auditors – An auditor will perform gap assessments and internal audits to determine where your current efforts require improvement to meet compliance framework requirements.
- Technical writer – A technical writer will create reports that turn analyst- and auditor-collected data into explanations and answers. If your compliance or certification efforts require submitting a report, someone must compile it.
- White hat pen-tester – A pen-tester will scan your cybersecurity infrastructure for vulnerabilities by conducting penetration testing and simulating other intrusion methods before making improvement and patch management recommendations.
Testing Security Infrastructure and Developed Technologies
While the cybersecurity staff augmentation strategies for testing your security infrastructure and developed technologies resemble those for compliance audits and reporting, your organization may wish to conduct general tests and assessments ad hoc (e.g., implementing the NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework) or following data breach incidents.
Augmenting your cybersecurity staff with a pen-tester will allow your organization to thoroughly test the security infrastructure of your IT environment and any developed technologies intended for internal or external use. An expert pen-tester can conduct penetration testing and evaluations based on varying familiarity with internal coding, structures, and algorithms (i.e., white, black, and grey box testing).
Since startups operate as lean as possible, they may reach a product or service development stage that suddenly requires more experts than they currently employ. If so, your startup can outsource the additional responsibilities to a cybersecurity staff augmentation services provider.
Data Breach and Crisis Management
Executing your incident response and recovery processes following a data breach ranks among the most challenging cybersecurity tasks any organization can face. However, suppose your organization’s IT team primarily focuses on management tasks and maintaining continuous service uptime. In that case, they may not have the expertise and skills to mitigate an intrusion and perform remediation efforts properly.
Navigating a data breach requires an “all hands on deck” mentality, so one of the wisest decisions you can make in the immediate aftermath is to leverage cybersecurity staff augmentation services and increase your number of experienced deckhands.
Augmentation Team Roles for Data Breach and Crisis Management
The typical cybersecurity staff augmentation roles contribute their expertise to data breach response and recovery efforts:
- Virtual CISO – A vCISO will lead and manage the team’s mitigation and remediation tactics. Their experience will allow them direct efforts while ensuring that the incident is reported according to your compliance requirements (e.g., informing the associated regulatory entities, your organization’s board members, and affected parties). A vCISO will also help develop policies to prevent an incident’s recurrence.
- Analysts – An analyst will collect breach data to perform forensic analysis:
- Identify a data breach incident
- Log and track the intrusion
- Investigate and diagnose the incident’s root cause
- Auditors – An auditor assists analysts’ logging and tracking efforts by assessing critical systems. They will also evaluate whether the breach exploited insufficient compliance framework implementations and provide recommendations on fixing such.
- Technical writer – A technical writer will create any incident reports and update your organization’s security policies, employee training materials, and other documentation to help prevent a recurrence.
- White hat pen-tester – A pen-tester will scan your cybersecurity infrastructure for additional vulnerabilities and provide patch management recommendations to minimize risk.
Organizations always need to produce technical content. Your documentation may focus on internal audiences, as with implementing a security awareness program or providing non-technical sales staff with digestible resources and materials such as “unique selling points” for products and services. Your documentation needs may include providing customers with installation, configuration, and ongoing management guides written for technical audiences.
If your organization primarily employs staff focused on development, implementation, sales, marketing, and other similar responsibilities, you may wish to contract with someone to handle your documentation needs periodically. The simplest solution is turning to tried-and-true cybersecurity staff augmentation strategies.
Contract a technical writer on an ad hoc basis instead of committing resources toward hiring a full-time employee whose work will run out at the project’s conclusion. Similarly, suppose your organization is undergoing expansion, and one technical writer is insufficient to meet your growing documentation demands. In that case, augmenting your staff will help keep workloads manageable and deliveries on deadline until you find the right hire.
Staff Augmentation Best Practice—Minimize Onboarding Times
An important consideration for cybersecurity staff augmentation techniques is that contracted experts will still need to familiarize themselves with your unique IT environment.
To minimize the onboarding process’ duration, you should make an effort to compile all of your existing documentation regarding your cybersecurity infrastructure, policies, procedures, and any other information. That way, you can readily provide materials that might prove beneficial and speed up the cybersecurity staff augmentation system and network familiarity.
Cybersecurity Staff Augmentation vs. Managed Services
While both staff augmentation and managed services allow your organization to outsource responsibilities, the difference comes down to whether you require temporary or ongoing assistance:
- Staff augmentation typically provides organizations with temporary assistance, adding specific expertise and skills to your existing team according to contracted hours for a known period.
- Managed security services providers (MSSPs) continually provide management and execution for the outsourced cybersecurity responsibilities on an ongoing basis.
RSI Security offers both staff augmentation and managed services to cover the full range of your organization’s cybersecurity outsourcing needs.
Cybersecurity Staff Augmentation Strategies You Can Trust
RSI Security provides staff augmentation and managed security services for organizations seeking best-in-class outsourcing solutions. Whether you need a virtual CISO, a technical writer, or any other role, RSI Security provides the expertise your organization needs to manage any temporary or ongoing challenges.
Contact RSI Security today to learn more about how our cybersecurity staff augmentation strategies minimize any looming operational obstacles.