Why Should Your Small-to-Mid-Sized Business Consider a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP)?

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Many of the crimes that occur in real life are now facilitated through the internet, and there’s a wide variety of them. Things like human trafficking, credit card fraud, identity theft, embezzlement, and stealing intellectual property are just a few. No country, industry, community or individual is immune to cyber risks. No single government agency, company or individual can solve our cyber security challenges. We all have to work together to secure our cyberspace. So what are some of the things that happen that would maybe drive your small-to-mid-sized business (SMB) to start talking about retaining a managed security service provider (MSSP)?

Threats change all the time, 24/7/365. Attackers don’t stop. Criminals don’t stop.  Every enterprise, every organization, can utilize an MSSP, whether they’re a small, medium business, or major enterprise. So one of the biggest benefits of using a MSSP is supplementing what you have. When you have a major enterprise, they have their own security department. SMBs need that too.

What is an MSSP?

At its base, an MSSP is a strategic partner. They’re the one that’s going to focus on managing your security program, maybe some components of your cybersecurity program also. They work with things like security operation center for alerting, endpoint protection, managing your network or network devices. From a staff perspective, an MSSP is something like a virtual chief information security officer who’s going to help you maintain your program over time.

So when we say things like, when does it make sense to work with an MSSP? Really the core answer to that question is another question: what are you trying to accomplish?

If your cybersecurity program is creating a level of risk that’s unacceptable to your business, such as contractual compliance requirements, that might drive a necessity to use one. An MSSP can help you get traction very quickly on some of those areas.

What are your common risks?

It’s important to remember that outsourcing doesn’t eliminate risk.

it’s important to identify what those risks may or may not be and what the impact of those risks a relationship with an MSSP may have. When you work with a good partner in the MSSP space, the goal is to minimize the risk that’s there and create a maximum amount of reward.

Those specialized MSSPs can help you rapidly move the needle for your organization’s cybersecurity program maturity.

A lot of times in the small-medium business space, I’ve noticed over the years of cyber security consulting that risk is a difficult discussion. “We accept the risk” is a very common phrase.

So when you consider working with an MSSP, the first thing you must do internally is to determine the need.

What is the cost-benefit analysis?

The next step from the business perspective is to look at a cost-benefit analysis or a CBA. So a cost-benefit analysis is exactly what it sounds like. You’re looking at the financial and operational impact of option A in comparison to option B. One of the biggest mistakes I see when onboarding or working with an MSSP from the business side is people not accommodating all of the costs associated with some of the programs that they’d like to roll out.

It’s important to accommodate for that when you are looking at the cost-benefit analysis.

Identify your risk and rewards

Cyber threats are changing every minute. A professional whose job is to focus on cybersecurity will help keep you up-to-date with those changes, inform you, assist, make recommendations. In an SMB, the maturity of cybersecurity may be very low, requiring outsourcing with an MSSP.

Just remember that with all rewards, there’s always a risk. Outsourcing is no different. All organizations should take the time to properly identify the risk in advance and ensure adequate controls, reporting, and communication with the MSSP so that you can track and understand it over time.

Service Level Agreement

So when initially communicating with an MSSP, the first thing you should ask them is about availability and support. In particular, does the service-level agreement (SLA) meet your requirements?

An SLA is how the MSSP is going to define the threshold for the management of services. It’s a way to set a standard and provide accountability to a standard or service delivery. It should also include what metrics and reporting will be shared. You should also discuss how you’re going to communicate together over time.

From the beginning, you want to make sure that you and the MSSP have defined expectations, support, hours of operation, overall coverage, metrics, and reporting in advance. The goal of working with an MSSP is to supplement your organization with services and knowledge, which are going to reduce risk through the maturity of cybersecurity program components.

It really depends on the services being performed and what your organization’s needs are. Be sure to address the following elements of your business with the MSSP before committing to your partner.

  • Is the MSSP capable of scaling with your business?
  • Will the MSSP be able to grow with the organization as risk management grows?
  • How long will it take to delete a user account? Set up a new user account?
  • Will you be able to stay in constant communication with them? The MSSP has to know your business so it can help align security with your business objectives. This can only be accomplished via communication. On the flip side, the MSSP has to be in constant communication with you regarding their experience in your industry and new threats that have surfaced.
  • What are the exact metrics your business needs? This goes back to communication, but it’s important that the MSSP knows what data you need, not just that you need data.
  • What do you want to gain from the relationship?

So what are the big benefits of an MSSP for an SMB?

Commonly, a good MSSP will be providing a service that is hard to replicate internally for small to mid-sized businesses at the price point it’s delivered. In some environments, it is significantly an area of opportunity to rapidly supplement your current organization’s capabilities in terms of cybersecurity.

This is a perfect reason to work with an MSSP to help SMBs achieve a rapid level of maturity in their environments, especially with cybersecurity.

A bigger benefit is the overall cost savings. Threat actors do not sleep, but going to a 24/7/365 staffing model to defend against cyber threats is a fairly costly endeavor to build on your own. And it definitely takes a lot of time and dedication. Instead of attempting this ginormous and costly task within, retain an MSSP to be this 24/7/365 staff.

Have any questions about selecting an MSSP partner? Please contact us at any time!

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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