What To Look For When Choosing The Best Cybersecurity Partner
Let’s face it, when it comes to cyber attacks, no company or industry is exempt or immune. Which means having effective security and risk management solutions to protect against attacks and safeguard data is crucial to operating a business in today’s digitally connected world. The challenge for most companies is how.
Outsourcing has become a standard practice for businesses large and small as developing and managing a successful security program requires time and expertise. Employing in-house cybersecurity staff can be expensive, where outsourcing becomes a more-cost effective option for a variety of reasons.
This article is meant to provide small-and-medium businesses, who typically do not have IT or cybersecurity departments, helpful criteria in qualifying and selecting security vendors that best fit their business. You’ll learn about:
- Types of Cybersecurity Providers
- Critical Security Services
- How the Right IT Partner Positively Impacts Your Business
- What To Look For In An IT Partner
- Things to Consider During A Search
- Qualities of a Top-Rated Cybersecurity and Risk Management Company
- Additional Considerations When Making Your Selection
Types Of Cybersecurity Providers:
A company may choose to outsource a portion or all of it’s IT security and threat management to an IT managed service provider, a managed security service provider (MSSP), or to a cybersecurity firm that specializes solely in providing cybersecurity services.
An MSSP is an IT service provider that provides cybersecurity monitoring and management, such as virus and spam blocking, intrusion detection, firewalls and virtual private network (VPN) management, vulnerability scanning and anti-viral services. An MSSP may use a SOC (security operations center) of their own or from another SOC provider to provide around-the-clock security monitoring services.
Cybersecurity and IT security consulting firms may specialize in specific areas of security. They also manage IT security services such as firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention as well as security threat analysis, proactive security vulnerability and penetration testing, incident preparation and response, and IT forensics. Use our vendor scorecard to help you easily compare vendors.
Regardless of the type of security provider, effective cybersecurity should:
Reduce the risk of cyber attacks
Protect systems, networks, and technologies from unauthorized exploitation
Prevent unwanted third parties from accessing sensitive information
Protect against disruption of services
Maintain productivity by reducing down time from computer viruses
Monitor overall safety to provide peace of mind
Provide controls and ensure business continuity
Critical Security Services to Consider for Your Business:
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Find additional resources through the Small Business Big Threat program which was developed by the Michigan SBDC with support from the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
How Your Cybersecurity Provider Positively Impacts Your Business
They help you:
Avoid damage to your company’s reputation. You work hard to establish your brand and build a reputable, customer-centric business. The last thing you need is to have your reputation tarnished by a security breach.
Avoid weakened client trust. A data breach and loss of information can weaken the relationship with clients and any potential new customers.
Avoid legal ramifications. Data breaches must be reported and customers must be notified of details related to the security breach, including if their information has been compromised.
By partnering with the right MSSP, cybersecurity IT consulting, or risk management firm, companies can avoid the nightmares and embarrassment associated with a data breach.
What You Should Look For In a Cybersecurity and Risk Management Partner
While there are standard and critically essential security components that every company should employ, not every business requires the same amount of protection.
To achieve the greatest benefits from outsourcing security operations, first define your specific company and unique business needs. It’s important to know what your core risks are. Take the time to determine the information that needs to be protected, where it is stored, and who has access to it. Then align necessary and required security technologies and solutions accordingly.
The right match will be a company that helps at a strategic and tactical level including defining the overall strategy, asset discovery, conducting vulnerability assessments, intrusion detection, threat intelligence, deploying the right technologies, behavior monitoring and ensuring operational functionality. The right security company will address each aspect of your business to provide full protection.
What To Consider When Doing Your Due Diligence
The best cybersecurity and risk management firms can demonstrate their work in the IT field. They will have years of experience on top of a portfolio of services that match their clients needs. They will be able to provide case studies as evidence of customer success and clearly articulate exactly how they help their clients backed by measurable results. Ask for examples of relevant experience or “war” stories. Ask how they would implement their services. The more detail they provide the better. By asking the right questions you will be able to determine the right firm with a successful track record.
Security professionals may have vendor-specific certifications as well as certifications and training from an accredited institution. Top-rated security professionals will openly display their awards, recognitions and certifications. Ask to see them if not displayed on their website. Inquire about specific staff certifications and training. You want to evaluate the team.
Top IT security certifications include:
GSEC: SANS GIAC Security Essentials
CISSP: Certified Information Security Manager
CCSP: Certified Cloud Security Professional
GCIH: GIAC Certified Incident Handler
Types of Clients
Top-rated MSSPs and security agencies will have customers across various industries. To determine how familiar they are with your exact needs, ask for examples related to your industry, such as, have they worked with your type of data, systems, and applications. Or have they worked with your competitors or other brands in your industry. However, be open to how they helped companies in similar industries with similar security needs.
While cybersecurity agencies and MSSPs like to provide packaged services that can easily be implemented and managed, leading firms will have the capability to provide custom solutions tailored to a your unique needs. Look for someone who understands that security is risk-based, which means one size does not fit all. You should expect to receive a plan and strategy on how they will secure your business. The right mix of technologies should match up to your business needs to provide both a proactive and reactive security approach - all aimed at preventing incidents, identifying vulnerabilities, and minimizing damage.
Technologies and Products
Cybersecurity is a growing, complex landscape. The market is flooded with new products and technologies as well as frameworks and standards. This can lead to confusion about what products, or combination of products you should use to keep your business safe. A cybersecurity expert can provide the guidance and direction you need. Ask about what products they use, why they use them, and how they will integrate with your systems. You will want to understand if any products have overlapping features or worse, leave gaps which can open your business up to dangerous threats.
Scalability of Solutions
Not all security providers offer the same levels of protection. Security companies will have a menu of services or portfolio of capabilities with some being more comprehensive than others. Assuming that your entire organization utilizes IT resources, then the entire organization is at risk. Any solution that does not address all locations, all employees, all systems, all processes, etc. can leave you vulnerable. In addition, take into consideration how you plan on growing your business. Look for a security partner that can grow and scale your security solutions with your changing business needs.
Cybersecurity requires a multi-layered approach that includes products, services, education and employee training, policies and procedures, testing and best practices, as well as overall strategy and digital governance.
Industry-Specific Security Compliance and Risk Management Expertise
For regulated industries, a company may need to meet and follow specific security, regulatory and compliance requirements such as:
SOX - Sarbanes Oxley compliance for both Banking and Finance industries to protect investors and the general public from accounting errors and fraudulent practices
PCI DSS - Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards for any company that accepts credit cards
HIPPA - Health Insurance Portability and Accountability compliance for Healthcare privacy and security
GDPR - Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation; EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA).
Public sector and federal services may require a security clearance or need to demonstrate NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) compliance.
Other industries that are in the “trust” business, such as law firms and insurance agencies should also be able to demonstrate how they are addressing risk and protecting client data.
Qualities of Top-Rated Cybersecurity and Risk Management Companies
Your IT partner should be able to provide examples or stories of how they solved a customer’s issue or managed a customer’s project. Or how they successfully corrected a problem.
Reputation and References
Ask for active client references and reviews to gauge performance, responsiveness, reliability and expertise. Customer feedback should provide a view into how the firm operates, and if they are a good match for your organization.
When outsourcing any service, especially one as complex as cybersecurity, your company will need visibility into what is being managed and what the results are. Leading cybersecurity agencies and MSSPs will have established monthly analytic and reporting expectations to ensure transparency with their business customers.
Cyber criminals are always upping their game. The best cybersecurity firms will be knowledgeable of past, current, and potential future threats as well as the technology solutions needed to combat such threats. To be effective, leading security experts must stay up-to-date on the latest trends and techniques being used by attackers.
Additional Considerations When Making Your Selection
Do they understand the business they are protecting, meaning do they understand your business?
Can they speak in laymen terms to effectively communicate technical language?
Do they provide analogies to help non-technical buyers and end-users understand technical concepts?
Are they up-to-date with the latest technologies, trends, and issues such as attacks and threats?
Are they subject matter experts and proficient in solutions, services, and processes?
Are they highly collaborative to achieve your business goals and objectives?
Are they continuous learners with updated skills?
Are they problem solvers with an eye for detail?
Can they be your trusted partner?
There is a lot to consider when selecting the best cybersecurity partner for your business. Security service providers vary as wildly in quality and scope as do solutions, products, and technologies.
Proper vetting will help businesses make confident cybersecurity and risk management partner decisions.
Businesses have a lot to protect. Learn how one company outsourced it’s IT functions and reduced it’s technology stress.
We’ll help you find pre-vetted IT service, MSSPs and cybersecurity providers who specifically work with SMBs and specialize in cybersecurity and risk management. You work with hand-selected experts, customized to your needs.