Whether your organization manages its cybersecurity efforts internally or externally matters. Externally managed cybersecurity services can lower your risk profile, guarantee a higher degree of expertise, and provide a greater ROI. Consider working with a service provider on advisory, implementation, risk mitigation, incident management, and regulatory compliance.
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Five Managed Cybersecurity Services to Consider in 2023
Dedicating internal IT resources to matters of cybersecurity lowers overall technical bandwidth; by working with external experts, you get increased protection, often at lower overall costs.
Here are the five best types of managed cybersecurity services for 2023 and beyond:
- Overarching program advisory, including top-down executive functions
- Planning and implementation of security infrastructure and architecture
- Threat and vulnerability management, both passive and proactive
- Real-time incident response and incident management programs
- Regulatory compliance advisory, preparation, and assessment
Working with a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) like RSI Security will help you strategize, implement, and manage your cyberdefenses, both short- and long-term.
1. Security Program Advisory and Management
Effective cyberdefense starts and ends with sound governance. To protect against threats in your IT environment, prevent attacks from occurring, and ensure swift and full recovery from incidents that do happen, you’ll need strong cybersecurity policies in place. But developing, deploying, enforcing, adjusting, and managing policies is difficult for organizations of all sizes.
Fortunately, security program advisory services can help cover all these needs.
Leveraging multiple specialists and experts employed by your MSSP rather than one or a small number of experts at your organization will ensure you’re using the most advanced measures and staying ahead of threats proactively. Advisors can manage the security of individual parts of your system or establish comprehensive control through a security operations center (SOC).
Cybersecurity advisory can also benefit your organization through broader cybersecurity staff augmentation, efficiently sourcing and incorporating expertise on an as-needed basis.
Virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO)
Advisory-oriented managed IT security services can complement or supplement any part of your security ecosystem, up to and including leadership. One of the most impactful positions at enterprise organizations with mature IT environments is the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), who oversees all security matters and usually occupies a position in the c-suite.
As critical as the CISO role is, however, some organizations struggle to court, hire, and retain top talent for the position. Firstly, there are relatively few people with the expertise necessary to occupy the role. Secondly, the critical importance of the role itself gives the few available experts significant bargaining power. For these reasons, CISO salaries can approach $300,000 annually (median: $235,620) before even accounting for bonuses and benefits.
Many organizations are turning to virtual CISO (vCISO) arrangements with MSSPs to cover all the essential responsibilities of a CISO on an as-needed basis—and at a fraction of the price.
2. Architecture and Infrastructure Implementation
Cyberdefense comprises security controls and protection layers designed to protect your IT assets and systems against unauthorized access. Underlying support systems, such as governance (see above) and training (see below), can be thought of as the infrastructure.
The architecture, however, consists of actual protective measures implemented, such as:
- Perimeter defenses, like firewalls and web filters to control incoming traffic
- Anti-virus and anti-malware protections to detect and eliminate malicious programs
- Scanners for personally identifiable information (PII) and other sensitive kinds of data
- Endpoint security monitoring to identify suspicious activity on connected devices
- Access controls, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), to authorize data access
In many cases, architecture implementation is tailored to specific regulatory requirements (see below). And in all cases, managed solutions will optimize your controls to your specific needs.
Staff Training and Awareness Programs
IT and cybersecurity awareness training is essential to effective cyberdefense. Without thorough training, even the best-deployed system can be compromised as a result of social engineering.
Namely, staff security awareness should be a key factor throughout the employment lifecycle.
It all starts during recruitment, with cybersecurity screening prior to hiring. Once hired, staff should undergo training in the onboarding process, with regular assessments to be followed up on regularly throughout their tenure. Initiate special training sessions when new software is introduced and after suspected or actual data breaches. Consider mandatory yearly seminars.
The best cybersecurity education combines theoretical instruction with hands-on, practical experience. Running incident response (IR) IR tabletop exercises will allow you to put your employees’ skills to the test and ensure they’re ready for an attack when it happens. It’s a lower-cost, lower-stakes version of penetration testing (see below).
3. Threat and Vulnerability Management
The next suite of cyberdefense practices to consider outsourcing information security risk management. Risk is a measure of the relationship between vulnerabilities and threats:
- Vulnerabilities are weaknesses in your security infrastructure and architecture that could be exploited intentionally by a malicious actor or unintentionally through negligence.
- Threats are events, environments, or individuals (threat actors) that could exploit security vulnerabilities. They may exist within your environment or outside of it.
Risk expresses the likelihood of vulnerabilities being exploited by threats, along with how much damage would result if they were. Effective threat and vulnerability management minimizes risk by accounting for weaknesses and building threat intelligence—especially when outsourced.
MSSPs can automate risk management and incorporate it into incident response (see below).
Not all of the threats and vulnerabilities that could impact your organization are easily accounted for within your own networks and devices. If you work closely with any vendors, contractors, or other strategic partners, you should implement a third-party risk management (TPRM) program.
External and Internal Penetration Testing
One of the most impactful approaches to risk management in cyber security is penetration testing. Pen testing is a form of “ethical hacking” that uses offensive measures for defensive purposes. Your MSSP will simulate attacks on your system to help prevent real-world incidents.
One kind of pen testing is external or “black hat.” In these tests, evaluators begin with little to no prior knowledge of your organization’s security configurations. The goal is to prepare you for an attack that happens from an unknown, outside source. Testing focuses on perimeter defenses and how easy it is for hackers to get into your systems from one or multiple attack points.
The other major kind of pen testing is internal or “white hat.” These tests simulate attacks from people with prior knowledge of or access to your systems, such as disgruntled current or former employees. They focus on attackers’ ability to move and seize control once already inside.
Working with a pen testing partner, you can optimize assessments to your specific needs. For example, you can conduct hybrid tests that include elements of internal and external attacks.
4. Incident Response and Management
No matter how advanced your protective layers are, there is always a chance that a cyberattack could happen. If and when it does, you need to have an incident response program in place.
Managed incident response typically involves working with an MSSP on an as-needed basis to quarantine and eliminate cyberattacks as soon as they occur. The sooner your provider can snap into action, the more likely it is that you’ll survive the attack and enjoy a full, swift recovery.
But an incident management process is even more effective, providing holistic support with:
- Incident identification – Automated monitoring scans regularly for irregularities and signs of attack, notifying parties and beginning mitigation protocols as soon as possible.
- Immediate documentation – Suspected and actual incidents are logged and threat intelligence is referenced to inform both immediate and longer-term incident analysis.
- Identification and diagnosis – Data on the attack is analyzed to produce a diagnosis, informing which response activities to engage in and which parties require notification.
- Assignment and escalation – Response activities are set in motion, monitored, and adjusted as needed to ensure attack vectors are sealed off and sensitive data is secure.
- Complete resolution – Full-system scans ensure that immediate threats are neutralized prior to any continuation of prior activities. Attack intelligence informs future prevention.
- Customer satisfaction – Dedicated business continuity and communication channels maintain operations, support clients, and minimize longer-term reputational damage.
Working with an external partner enables a seamless and comprehensive approach. Each phase builds on the others, so the same resources provide value during and after an attack.
Managed Detection and Response (MDR)
In some cases, organizations combine their threat monitoring and incident response methods into a single program. Rather than isolating these elements of security, having them feed off of each other allows for greater protection at lower overall costs—better cyberdefense ROI.
When overseen by an external partner, this is usually referred to as managed detection and response (MDR). The most effective MDR programs begin with detection (i.e., proactive scanning for vulnerabilities and threats to neutralize risks before they materialize). Any attacks that do happen are responded to in the holistic, six-phase methodology described above. But a unique factor of MDR is Root Cause Analysis (RCA), which determines the exact reasons that a given threat, vulnerability, or incident arose—and addresses underlying weaknesses through infrastructure.
Additionally, MDR often accounts for and streamlines risks related to regulatory compliance.
5. Regulatory Compliance Advisory Services
Finally, you should consider working with an external compliance advisor if your organization is subject to any cybersecurity regulations based on your industry, location, or other factors.
In some cases, regulations pertain to the industry you work in. For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) apply to healthcare and military contracting, respectively. Regulations also have to do with basic facts of business, like processing credit payments. Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance applies to organizations that come into contact with cardholder data (CHD).
Working with an advisor will help you scope out and implement required controls, minimizing overlap and other inefficiencies that can come with the territory of multiple regulations.
In other cases, compliance with a framework may not be directly required, but it could help you streamline your implementation for other mandatory standards, like the HITRUST CSF. HITRUST Certification empowers you to implement controls for PCI, CMMC, and many other frameworks. In many cases, you can satisfy several certification requirements all at once. And working with an advisor further streamlines your strategy, implementation, and assessment.
Readiness and Certification Assessments
One of the most critical parts of compliance management is preparing for and conducting assessments to achieve and maintain certification—often through an accredited assessor.
Consider the certification requirements for three of the frameworks mentioned above:
- CMMC – Organizations face different criteria based on their Level and whether they process Federal Contract Information (FCI) or Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI):
- Level 1: Processing lower-risk data (FCI) allows for annual self-assessments
- Level 2: Processing higher-risk data (CUI) requires triennial third-party audits
- Level 3: Processing critical-risk CUI requires triennial government-led audits
- PCI – Organizations with low transaction volume may be able to file a Self Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) annually. But others must work with a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) to fill out an Attestation of Compliance (AOC) or Report on Compliance (ROC).
- HITRUST – Organizations can work with the MyCSF self-assessment tool or accredited External Assessors to conduct one of three kinds of audits, depending on their needs:
- HITRUST Essentials (e1) assessment, for one year of low security assurance
- HITRUST Implemented (i1) assessment, for one year of medium assurance
- HITRUST Risk-based (r2) assessment, for two years of high assurance
Even in cases where external validation is not required, a compliance advisor can help you conduct readiness assessments and other preparatory exercises to facilitate certification.
Optimize Your Security Today
The best managed IT security services revolve around areas of advisory, implementation, risk mitigation, incident management, and regulatory compliance. Which ones you choose to work with an external partner on will depend on your needs, but finding the right partner is key.
RSI Security is committed to helping our clients meet and exceed their security needs. We know that discipline creates freedom, and we work closely with organizations’ internal teams to install, monitor, and manage required controls. The right way is the only way to keep your data secure.
To learn more about our managed cybersecurity services, contact RSI Security today!