For any modern business, cybersecurity is a critical issue. Whether the company needs to meet special industry regulations, thwart the countless cyber threats found online, or improve its reputation with investors and customers, having strong security is a must.
The cost of poor security can be extremely high. In fact, according to a study by IBM and the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million worldwide (and $8.64 in the U.S., specifically). That’s millions of reasons to focus on security.
However, not every business can afford to do top-tier cybersecurity management in-house. Between hiring IT security experts, maintaining security solutions, and providing continuous training to keep up with new threats, managing cybersecurity is like starting a second business within the company.
This is part of the reason why many companies opt to use a managed security service provider (MSSP)—otherwise known as a cybersecurity company or IT security company—to create and maintain their security strategy.
What Is an MSSP?
An MSSP is a company that specializes in providing managed security services to their clients. This is different from a managed service provider (MSP) in that, while both provide IT-related services, the MSSP is focused primarily on security instead of service availability.
Examples of managed services an MSSP might provide include:
- Creating Security Plans and Documents. Many regulatory standards require some type of documented process. MSSPs often help companies create detailed cybersecurity plan, policy, and procedure documents to satisfy these regulatory standards. Additionally, such documentation helps a company practice consistent cybersecurity.
- Conducting Security Gap Analyses. An experienced MSSP can conduct an analysis to identify known gaps between an organization’s existing IT security practices and what they need to achieve specific security goals (such as being compliant with certain government standards). Then, they can establish a roadmap for achieving those goals in a plan of action & milestones (POA&M) document.
- Security Incident Response Management. In addition to creating an incident response plan (IRP), MSSP security experts will frequently manage the plan—actively monitoring the IT environment and responding to security incidents as they happen using a combination of automated and manual IRP tools.
- Active Penetration Testing. Sometimes, the best way to find vulnerabilities is to try to break the system as an attacker would. Penetration testing (also called a pen test) simulates an attack on the network to identify potential weaknesses that attackers might exploit. This is often useful for finding so-call “zero-day” exploits that aren’t widely known.
- Security Patch Schedule Management. Having the latest security patches is key for preventing known exploits from being used against the network. MSSPs often help companies check for and apply the latest patches to their software assets so malicious actors can’t use them.
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Benefits of Using an MSSP
How do companies benefit from leveraging MSSP security instead of trying to do everything internally? Here are a few ways:
1. Cost Savings
One of the biggest benefits of using an external contractor for managing cybersecurity is that it can save a lot of money. In MSSP proposals, cost of service is often a major focal point for the conversation.
Consider the costs involved in maintaining an internal cybersecurity team. PayScale cites the average base salary of a cybersecurity engineer at $96,987 per year—this doesn’t include bonuses or other benefits. Meanwhile, Salary.com states that the median salary for a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is about $213,493.
This means that the cost of a three-man cybersecurity team (consisting of one engineer to work each shift to maintain a 24/7 security presence) with no C-level cybersecurity personnel would cost about $290,961 just for labor. Expand that to a five-person team with a CISO so people can have a day or two off and cover any vacations or sick days, and the cost rises to $698,428 for employee labor.
This doesn’t include the cost of overtime, employee benefits, or even any of the hardware, software, or cloud assets the security team will need to do their jobs.
Compare this to the cost of hiring an external cybersecurity services team, which is a more predictable monthly expense with less variability. Inside of an MSSP’s service proposal, companies can see exactly what they’re paying for—and it’s often a fraction of the cost of maintaining a full cybersecurity team internally.
2. Cybersecurity Expertise
One of the reasons why hiring a full-time cybersecurity engineer is so expensive is that there’s a shortage of qualified talent in the industry. As noted by CSO Online, “the number of cybersecurity professionals required to close the cybersecurity skills gap has shrunk from 4.07 million to 3.12 million professionals.”
While this is a step in the right direction, it does mean that there aren’t enough professionals to go around. This scarcity makes it difficult (and expensive) to source IT security labor directly.
By hiring an MSSP, companies can close the IT security skills gap quickly and easily. This can help to save time and money alike—all while ensuring more stable access to cybersecurity expertise for whenever it’s needed.
3. Free up IT Team Time for Other Priorities
Many businesses already have a dedicated IT team. However, the primary goal of this team is often to provide IT support to other business units and to ensure that the company’s mission-critical data and applications are available.
Trying to manage and maintain security policies, solutions, and plans on top of their regular IT duties can put an enormous burden on the IT team. This distracts from their ability to focus on their core mission and causes increased stress—which can lead to employee disengagement and high turnover among the IT team.
By leveraging a dedicated MSSP for cybersecurity, companies can alleviate the pressure on their IT teams. The time saved helps the IT team make more progress towards their core goals (uptime, support, and/or software dev) while reducing stress factors that contribute to poor performance and high attrition.
4. Saving Time on IT Team Recruitment
Replacing personnel is inevitable for any business. No matter how good a company’s benefits and pay are, how highly they rate on “Best Places to Work” lists, and how motivated their employees are, there will eventually come a time for an employee to leave.
Whether it’s because they’re retiring, moving on to new job opportunities, or are faced with personal issues, an employee will eventually leave. Replacing talented, high-skill employees like cybersecurity engineers can be a daunting and time-consuming task—especially considering the skills gap.
By using a managed security service provider, companies can completely eliminate the need to recruit cybersecurity staff. This can help leadership save time so they can focus on other priorities.
5. Closing Critical Security Gaps
One of the biggest benefits of hiring an MSSP with deep knowledge and experience in managing cybersecurity is that they can help to close critical security gaps in the organization. MSSPs have the tools, training, and experience to identify major security gaps that could allow a cybercriminal to access sensitive data and systems.
By addressing security gaps, MSSPs can help their customers avoid millions of dollars in direct damages from data breaches and other IT security catastrophes. This can also help the organization protect its reputation by preventing harm to the company’s customers as well.
What to Look for in an MSSP
What should you look for in a managed cybersecurity service provider? What are the qualities that will most help you protect your business from harm?
Some key qualities to look for in an MSSP include:
- Specific Knowledge and Expertise. What qualifications does the MSSP’s cybersecurity team bring to the table? Do they have certifications in specific cybersecurity tools? Verifying the MSSP’s qualifications is an important step in choosing the best team for your needs.
- Availability of Support. Is the MSSP available 24/7, or just at specific times? How long does it take for the MSSP to get back to you after you reach out to them? Cybercriminals can attack at any time, so you need support that will be there when you need it.
- Documented Security Procedures. Does the MSSP have a formal, documented process for assessing your cybersecurity needs and applying fixes? Or, is their approach less structured and consistent? Cybersecurity is too important to leave it up to chance—make sure your security service is consistently covering all their bases!
- Sizeable Security Teams. How many people will be working on your “account” at any given time? Security teams need to be sizeable enough to provide the comprehensive breadth of expertise you need without being wasteful.
- Automated Security Tools. Even with a large team of experts, there will always be a delay between a security incident and the MSSP responding to it—at least, with manual processes, that is. Automated security tools can help to improve speed of response to security incidents and even handle part (or all) of the process for stopping an attack before a human is even aware that there’s a problem to fix. So, finding an MSSP with strong automated security tools can be a major plus.
Do you need help protecting your business from cybercriminals? Or, do you need to meet a specific regulatory compliance standard? Systems X is here to help! Get started on the road to meeting your security goals by contacting us today!