Seems like every day we hear of a new breach or get contacted by a new client who’s been breached but really thought they had security under control. Even technology giants like Google, T-Mobile and Mailchimp are falling prey to cybercriminals these days.
The sad news is that organizations are making significant investments of dollars and human resources in security. And our problems are not due to a lack of tools or innovation. With well over 1,000 cyber security tools on the market, and vendors making constant improvements, it’s hard to keep up. Yet, companies continue to respond by recruiting more information security personnel. The supply of skilled resources simply cannot keep pace with demand. We’ve reached a serious breaking point. The industry must find economies of scale in line with the current resource pool, and fast.
Cue “managed” offerings from nearly every vendor
Managed security services have emerged as a powerful solution to address these ever-growing challenges in cybersecurity. But what exactly does "managed security" mean, and how can it benefit your organization?
In this blog, we'll address the intricacies of managed security, explore its various facets, benefits, challenges, and essential considerations for choosing a managed security provider.
Understanding Managed Security
There are A LOT of variations of managed security, and its interpretation can vary depending on who you ask. For some, it's about outsourcing specific security tasks or processes to a third-party provider or having a third party manage a specific tool. For others, it’s entrusting the management of your entire security infrastructure to an external partner.
Let's discuss the key components of managed security:
Tool Management: Outsourcing the management of specific security tools, such as Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), and Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) platforms, among others.
Resource Augmentation: The provision of skilled security professionals, like threat hunters and engineers, or even CISOs who work alongside your internal team to enhance your security capabilities.
Security Processes: Many organizations choose to delegate security processes like patch management, vulnerability management or firewall management.
Comprehensive Security: In some cases, organizations opt for a fully integrated security platform managed by a third party, covering a wide range of security processes and tools, in essence, outsourcing their cybersecurity.
Why Managed Security Is a Hot Topic The cybersecurity landscape is fraught with challenges that make managed security services an attractive option:
Tool Overload: The sheer number of security tools available is overwhelming to almost everyone. Deciding which tools to use, how to integrate them, and what architecture to adopt is quite a task. We’ve heard of many organizations that select tools quickly, due to lack of bandwidth for proper evaluation, and then are stuck with something either cumbersome or not a fit.
Skilled Resource Shortage: Finding and retaining skilled cybersecurity professionals is becoming increasingly difficult. Managed security providers can either offload the work or offer access to a broad range of expertise, thereby addressing this gap.
Lack of Bandwidth: Tasks like patching, monitoring, and threat hunting are essential but time-consuming. Managed services can alleviate the strain on your internal resources.
Alert Fatigue: Sorting through a multitude of security alerts to determine their significance can be exhausting. Managed security services help filter and prioritize alerts effectively.
Desire for Outsourcing: Some organizations prefer to offload security responsibilities to focus on their core business operations. Some forms of Managed security offer nearly complete outsourcing.
Components of Managed Security Managed security services can encompass a wide array of services, allowing organizations to tailor their security solutions to their specific needs. But the choices can be confusing. So we developed a diagram to help demonstrate primary components of security that can be outsourced:
Benefits of Managed Security
Embracing managed security services offers several advantages:
Increased Bandwidth: Organizations can focus on core responsibilities while offloading time-consuming security tasks.
Access to Expertise: Managed service teams gain insights from serving multiple clients, providing a broader perspective on security challenges, solutions and faster ways to gain stronger security posture.
Faster Response Times: Managed providers offer 24/7 monitoring, ensuring rapid detection and response to security incidents. Their tools are also optimally tuned and integrated for the most effective alerting. And to top it off, they have lots of automation that proactively accelerates their speed to response.
Cost Savings: Building an in-house security infrastructure can be costly. Managed services can provide a cost-effective alternative. In many cases we have seen that the cost of a managed solution is the same as the cost of just purchasing the tool. This is because managed service providers get such a deep discount on the tools.
Expanded Coverage: With constant monitoring, organizations benefit from around-the-clock protection, critical in the face of threats like ransomware.
Risk Reduction: Managed security services often reduce risk of human failure, lack of training and other inefficiencies in your environment. Comprehensive managed services ensure defense in depth architecture surrounded by honed processes which reduces risk. In addition, many managed services include executive reporting which can help an organization understand and manage risk.
Effective Defense: Providers ensure tools are configured correctly, enhancing an organization's defense against cyber threats. Many providers have the ability to mix and match best in class tools, integrate them seamlessly and connect the dots with cross-stack visibility.
Challenges of Managed Security While managed security offers numerous benefits, it's important to be aware of potential challenges:
Service Definition: You can’t outsource “it” if you don’t know what “it” is. This was a huge learning for organizations who were early outsourcers of IT back in the 90s. Clearly define your security needs to ensure they align with the services offered by providers you are considering.
Vendor Oversight: Just because it’s outsourced does not mean it can be ignored. Regularly monitor and evaluate your provider's performance to ensure they meet their service level agreements (SLAs).
Loss of Institutional Knowledge: Outsourcing can result in the loss of internal knowledge making it difficult to manage ongoing, and especially longer term.
Vendor and Contract Management: Continuously manage vendor contracts and relationships to ensure they remain aligned with your organization's needs. If you’re outsourcing only a component of your security, make sure the timing aligns well with interdependent tools or resource contracts.
Vendor Qualification: Thoroughly vet potential providers to ensure they possess the necessary skills, experience, and financial stability. Keep in mind that managed service providers face the same resource scarcity that we do.
Evaluation Complexity: Assessing managed security providers can be difficult due to the variety and combination of services offered by each provider. It's crucial to match your specific needs to their capabilities.
While today’s incessant attacks might make it easy to despair, it doesn’t make for much of a security strategy. You can’t insulate yourself from every breach, but you can leverage the concepts of consolidation and expertise to move your organization to a stronger security posture.
Managed security services offer organizations a valuable solution to the complex and ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity. By outsourcing security tasks, processes, and even entire infrastructures, organizations can gain access to expertise, increase their security posture, and reduce the burden on internal resources. However, choosing the right managed security provider and maintaining a vigilant approach to oversight are essential to maximizing your defense while minimizing the challenges. As the world of cybersecurity continues to evolve, managed security services will remain a crucial tool in the arsenal of organizations striving to protect their digital assets.