Vulnerabilities in a company’s network are bad news if they get out of hand. Even if your team manages to catch a vulnerability that hasn’t yet affected your infrastructure, you might not be able to patch the vulnerability in time due to your current manpower. If this is where your organization is at currently or may be headed in the future, you’ll need to consider having a managed security service provider (MSSP) close your vulnerability gaps in your network infrastructure. This may be a tough decision to make, but we’ll do our best to give you the pertinent information that you need to make the most informed decision on integrating the services of an MSSP into your organization. This article will also touch on MSSP roles, responsibilities, and best practices to give you a well-rounded understanding of what to expect once the MSSP is onboard.
Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP)
Cybercrime is estimated to cost global businesses over $2 trillion by 2019. 39% of enterprises admit that their own lack of internal security resources and expertise have left vulnerable to external threats. Without adequate talent that can tackle and identify vulnerabilities, organizations are left searching for solutions via a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP).
Outsourcing your organization’s threat intelligence, vulnerability assessment, and remediation efforts to a MSSP can allow your internal team to focus on only high level strategization tasks. MSSP teams work 24/7 to monitor your organization’s network security and keep your team safe from getting burnt out on the mountain of work that’s already on their plates.
Due to the current cybersecurity skills shortage, many organizations are finding it difficult to find internal team members that are skilled enough to monitor a wide array of threats and patch vulnerabilities without getting burnt out. It’s not realistic to demand a human worker to stay available 24/7. Nevertheless, digital threats still can occur at any time. This is the reason why most organizations search far and wide for the right MSSPs that offers 24/7 support, manages their security controls, oversees patch management projects, and provides emergency response support.
Roughly 50% of those organizations seek out MSSPs for their intrusion detection and prevention services whereas a staggering 71% of organizations look to an MSSP to provide them with overall security expertise. With 65% of companies convinced that hiring MSSPs will improve their security posture, it begs to question what services might an MSSP offer above and beyond what has already been detailed? Here are a few key capabilities that MSSPs may also provide
- Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)/Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS)
- Security information and event management (SIEM)
- Firewall Management
- Threat Hunting
When an MSSP performs these tasks, it can lower a company’s overhead costs while also improving availability and business continuity, providing more flexible scalability, and increasing organizational efficiency. The deployment of early threat detection and protection allows businesses to focus on their main functions and leave the security concerns to an MSSP.
MSSPs deploy countless security tactics to stop threats before they cause damage to a company’s network infrastructure. Without this level of detection, vulnerabilities will soon crop up and the company will be riddled with threats that could cause breaches that may lead to serious network downtime.
Vulnerability Management Plan Roles and Responsibilities
Security tools and technology for a single organization has the potential to generate nearly 2.7 billion actions every month (this includes logins, uploads, etc.). Network threats account for a tiny fraction of 1% (roughly 1 in 1 million) of these actions. Even with the most advanced AI software available, an organization would still need a team of engineers to decipher the data to ensure there are no false positive reports that the system generates. Even for those organizations that do integrate automated threat hunting/monitoring tools into their network, nearly one-third admitted to ignoring alerts altogether because they are convinced that many of them are false positives. On the other hand, 40% cannot make the appropriate changes due to the reports lacking specific actionable intelligence. Without the appropriate insight into these threats, security teams are essentially throwing darts at a dart board in the attempt to solve their vulnerability problems.
Hiring and training cybersecurity staff to maintain the latest tools in a company’s arsenal can potentially leave your budget tapped out. For a fraction of the cost of hiring and training new employees to tackle these tasks, businesses can leverage the services of an MSSP to provide 24×7 coverage. This can free up large and frequent capital expenditures that allow companies to continue to invest in new cybersecurity tools and capabilities with predictable, ongoing operational costs.
46% of managed IT service users reporting that they have cut 25% or more from their annual IT costs which can leave the door open for vulnerabilities to wreak havoc on their network. When it comes down to it, MSSPs can scale at a rapid rate and are much better at spreading their fixed technology costs and investments across a broad customer base. Doing so allows MSSPs to pass the savings onto their clients who then can do the same with their internal fixed costs. This decrease in fixed costs can lead to an immediate ROI uptick that allows businesses the ability to open their options for building out their network security capabilities internally on top of outsourcing some of their operations to an MSSP.
Security Vulnerability Management Program Best Practices
MSSPs have a variety of specific capabilities that allows them to assess high-level activities and detect advanced anomalies in a network infrastructure at a rapid pace. The efficiency of the processes that MSSPs utilize are made possible via the implementation of big data analytics and dark web monitoring tactics that can be labor-intensive if done internally via a manual process. Although humans are still interacting with the software, their task is to audit the positive threats that the automated monitoring tools are hunting for, not actively hunt for the threats themselves. These integrated technical solutions leverage best-of-breed technologies that allow MSSPs to operate at breakneck speeds and nip network threats in the bud before they become an issue.
Tasks such as collecting logs and data to be normalized and analyzed for use in the proactive hunt of threats and vulnerabilities is central to the focus of an MSSP. When an organization partners with an MSSP, they effectively can reduce their cybersecurity program implementation needs, thus allowing them to change their high-level focus from the fear of a breach back to core business needs.
MSSPs are a wealth of information that organizations can take advantage of to build their own internal defense solutions that can adapt to a plethora of environments simultaneously. When organizations employ the services of an MSSP, they can effectively use them as a type of cybersecurity mentor that they can utilize above and beyond their base needs to implement the most practical and effective processes to protect their network security.
Sensitive Data Protection
For companies that are required to comply with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), there is a pressing need to tie up loose ends and ensure vulnerabilities are patched before the next audit comes around. This can be nearly impossible if your internal team is also tasked with building new network processes that allow your organization to keep up with consumer demands. Tasks such as updating digital payment processing systems or integrating new sensitive authorization data (SAD) procedures can take up valuable time for your IT team.
Even though these time sinks can waste a myriad of hours of manpower, some companies are reluctant to relinquish the handling of customer Personal Identifiable Information (PII) to an outside organization. Although it is understandable for an organization to be risk averse with their PII, it is still imperative that they utilize an outside organization if they are unable to manage their internal payment card data security processes.
A great way for a payment card organization to feel more at ease with the inclusion of an outside organization is to have them sign a detailed service level agreement (SLA). This is a high level of confidentiality between the organizations to legally protect both organizations and customer PII in the case of a data breach.
Communication with MSSP
Some MSSP organizations go well beyond these steps by also taking the time to manage and integrate technology that the client currently uses in their processes. This is usually only pertinent if the MSSP has developers that understand all the ins and outs of the technology and have built up a good communications rapport with the client. When the organization and MSSP utilize different levels of technologies, they may have difficulties communicating with one another. Since technologies often leave gaps to ensure proper scalability, the organization and MSSP must work together to formulate an ironclad solution to communicating their needs when they need real-time solutions.
This type of real-time vulnerability analysis can only exist when there is a dedicated flow of communication that originates from the appropriate channels within both organizations. For both organizations to truly reach their potential, they must integrate the MSSP’s staff and technologies into their infrastructure and commit to a communications hierarchy for expedited responses to occur.
The integration of seamless two-way communication that is driven via process and technology is better implemented if both organizations establish a single point of contact for interactions for security issue escalations. Implementing this type of hierarchy and processes will prepare organizations to commit to the MSSP services and the possibility of long-term network security success.
MSSPs use their technology and processes to perform a vulnerability assessment, measure an organization’s network security posture, deliver gap analysis reports consistently, and red flag critical vulnerabilities that may become an issue in the future. MSSPs take a proactive approach to monitoring, tracking, alerting, and repairing a variety of network security issues that arise. This differs from organizations that only have customers and possibly a team of bug squashers to tackle the tall task of ascertaining the vulnerabilities of their system.
For tasks that are so integral to the forward progress of an organization, undertaking the task with a small internal team can be a risky endeavor. Instead, an MSSP can act proactively to patch vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by hackers which can altogether save an organization from a possible public relations disaster. MSSPs provide organizations with a daily vulnerability audit that provides security teams the unrivaled insight into any unauthorized intrusions that, over time, can lead to the integration of a successful security posture.
Essentially, an MSSP provides a team of experts at roughly the same cost of hiring a single individual. MSSPs should be utilized as more of an extension of the organization’s internal security team, rather than just a team of security experts. Doing so will ensure supreme accuracy of internal and external vulnerability scanning across multiple databases to ensure that threats are squashed before they become a problem for your sensitive data.
MSSP audit results will give the organization the insight that they need to implement changes that are truly actionable and without the threat of developing false positives. This is a major step up form what some IT teams focus on developing which are break-fix solutions. Although break-fix support has its generic merits, it also only focuses on a single problem. On the other hand, MSSP cyber security solutions will often discover threats and vulnerabilities that your internal security team didn’t even know existed.
47% of polled organizations this year see DDoS attacks as increasingly harmful to their organization (up from 38% in 2017). Combatting these critical DDoS attacks takes time and manpower to accomplish. Integrating an MSSP solution into your organization is a simple decision to make if you’re looking to rapidly accelerate your network without taking on too many fixed costs by way of added internal IT employees.
Working with an MSSP is an investment of time, capital and trust that can lead to far better proactive threat hunting and vulnerability tracking approaches over time. When your organization dedicates itself to developing communication processes that integrate the MSSP’s technology in its own network, it can become more sustainable and free of pending infrastructure threats through the years.