By now, it’s well established that small and midsized businesses need to take cybersecurity seriously.
Unfortunately, the latest Verizon Data Breach Investigation shows that 61% of those businesses experienced a cyberattack last year. Despite the increased year-on-year risk, 43% of them still don’t have a comprehensive security plan in place.
The enormous cost and complexity of managing cybersecurity as an in-house function means that most businesses quickly realize that an external partner, such as a managed security services provider (MSSP), is the best way to meet their security goals.
By providing the full range of cybersecurity skillsets, the latest defensive technologies, and 24-hour monitoring, MSSPs provide a level of security vigilance that most businesses could never achieve on their own.
But how do you choose the right MSSP to work with? Let’s look at some questions you can ask to find the right MSSP partner.
The MSSP market is large and diverse. On one end of the market, boutique firms specialize in providing niche services like penetration testing to enterprises. On the other end of the market, budget providers offer cheap solutions without any customization or hands-on support.
Most growing businesses that want to maximize their cybersecurity confidences should look for providers that fall in between these two extremes. That means an MSSP with strong ties and reputation in their local community, preferably with a track record of helping businesses in your industry.
To help narrow down the list of prospective MSSPs, you can start by asking them questions such as:
The answers to these questions will help you approach the MSSP vendor evaluation process with a clearer sense of what you need, so you can eliminate a potential partner who isn’t a good fit for your business.
An MSSP is only as strong as its people, so the next step to finding the right security partner is to dig into who the MSSP is.
Start with senior leadership. How long have they been working in the cybersecurity field? Do they have experience working in your industry vertical? While technology challenges are similar across all industries, a leadership team with expertise in your field means they’ll be able to understand your goals and speak in your language, which makes collaboration more efficient and comfortable.
After that, it’s time to start evaluating their staff. Cybersecurity engineers have unique specializations and credentials. Things to look for include:
How long have their security engineers been in the field? A reputable MSSP will have a mix of senior and junior staff, along with clear communication paths between each level of the company, so that people with the right expertise respond to each security incident quickly.
All MSSPs claim to have cybersecurity expertise, but what exactly does that mean? In the fast-evolving cybersecurity landscape, engineers should have updated certifications from recognized bodies, such as Certified Systems Security Professionals (CISSPs), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), or other industry-standard bodies.
Next, you’ll want to dig into the how of an MSSP’s work. Documented policies are critical to the success of an MSSP. They’re not only a requirement of some regulatory compliance standards, but they’re crucial to ensuring that security incidents are identified, analyzed, and responded to with efficiency.
Some of the questions to ask when exploring how your MSSP works include:
The question of a good process goes deep into the MSSP, though, beyond how they interact with you. It goes to how they interact with their own security. For example, does the MSSP run background checks on their own people? Are they securing their systems with multi-factor authentication and hardening their infrastructure against physical infiltration?
While many businesses overlook the question of internal security when selecting a technology service provider, a recent spate of high-profile ransomware attacks has highlighted the importance of having vendors who provide security services and secure themselves.
Dig Deep into the Service Level Agreements
A service level agreement (SLA) is a contract that outlines the level of service you can expect from an IT service provider. While you should aim to build a long-term, consultative relationship with your MSSP, having a clearly written SLA helps further clarify responsibilities. This means examining:
While MSSPs can be an invaluable partner in achieving better security, they just provide steadfast cybersecurity on demand. Instead, the MSSP-client relationship prospers only when both parties are investing time and energy to make it a success.
This means being frank about your security challenges, communicating with your MSSP proactively throughout the relationship, being open-minded to their suggestions. View them as a long-term strategic partner in general, not just another vendor or line item in your technology budget.
For decades, the Complete Network team has supported businesses in Charlotte, North Carolina, Albany, NY, Bluffton, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia. If you’re interested in learning more about the MSSP model and how vigilant 24/7 protection benefits business, the Complete Network team would be happy to help.
Reach us any time at 877-877-1840 or [email protected].
In an ideal world, technology would be a consistent source of competitive advantage and benefit for small and midsized businesses. The reality is that many fail to realize that confidence.
Without the right resources and support, even a highly skilled technology team can become overwhelmed by the growing list of technology management duties. When important tasks get neglected, it creates ripple effects throughout an organization that damage productivity and efficiency.
The co-managed IT services model solves these problems by providing your existing IT team with all the support and resources they need to successfully plan, manage, and defend your network technology.
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