ANS Blog

The Value of Managed Security Services

August 16, 2018 in Small Business Security

The Value of Managed Security Services

For Small and Mid-Sized Organizations

Implementing a managed security program can provide your organization with a variety of benefits, but the primary advantage is to transfer the management and expense of an in-house cybersecurity team to a third-party that has the right technology, expertise and capabilities. But before we delve into more of the details on this topic, it’s probably worthwhile to talk about what, exactly, managed security is.

What Is Managed Security?

Managed security is a service delivery model where an expert provider monitors and potentially manages your IT security infrastructure and processes. Each managed security service provider (often referred to as an MSSP) may offer a slightly different package of services. But the most common ones provided by true MSSPs include: vulnerability assessments, basic security services (including but not limited to monitoring, filtering, firewall, VPN, IDS/IPS, endpoint security management). They should also provide advanced cybersecurity services like security information and event management (SIEM) and security operations center (SOC) services and employee training. The underlying principle of SIEM services is the aggregation of relevant data from multiple sources (this can be security and non-security related devices like servers and firewalls), the identification of deviations from the norm (no it’s not typical for someone to create multiple admin accounts with a remote login after midnight) and take appropriate action. For example, when a potential issue is detected, a SIEM might log additional information, generate an alert and instruct other security controls to stop an activity’s progress. Security operations centers provide expert services delivered by a team of security analysts tasked with detecting, analyzing, responding to, reporting on and preventing cybersecurity incidents. Also known as cybersecurity operations centers or security incident response centers, the purpose of security operations center services is to provide critical security support and incident response functions.

Small to mid-size organizations can benefit from using a managed security service because it not only delivers a high level of cyber resilience, but it also provides expertise, centralization, and uniformity to security operations. If, for some small to mid-size organizations, these benefits don’t initially seem like a significant value, ask one that’s suffered the backlash of regulators and angry customers after a data breach. Or lost days of operation while they recovered from a ransomware attack. Chances are, they’ll tell you that having the additional level of protection of a managed security program is money well spent.

What Are the Benefits of Managed Security Services?

Managed Security Increases Effectiveness and Cost-Efficiency. Within the current environment, having and maintaining the right level of cybersecurity protection is a daunting task. Building security in-house is often cost prohibitive because it requires you to hire specialized technical expertise, maintain multiple systems and tools, plus maintain 24/7 monitoring and management to fend off the constant barrage of threats. Managed security gives you all these important functions—without having to invest the enormous cost of doing them all yourself. Just like your telephone or electricity services, you eliminate all the upfront capital costs by hiring an MSSP and paying a fixed, predictable bill for your IT security each month. Depending on the size of your network and number of locations, cost savings can be substantial.

Managed Security Provides Cyber Agility. One of their keys to success is that Cybercriminals move fast and can change fast.  When an organization needs to improve its security posture by implementing new measures, it’s typical that the evaluation, procurement, implementation and testing process associated with making the change usually adds a considerable amount of time. Meanwhile, an attacker can quickly use any one of the many new attack vectors at his/her disposal, at a price to them that’s increasingly on the decline. They’re not constrained by organizational processes, making them way more adaptable and, in turn, dangerous. Again, a quality managed security service provider is already invested in the resources needed to stay on top of the newest cyber threats and defenses—giving customers the benefit of having this important counter-cyber agility.

Managed Security Provides the Right Cyber Resources and Expertise. The ability to get ahead of attackers, and respond in real-time to incidents, is a capability that many organizations don’t have the infrastructure, skills or resources to provide. Selecting and making sense of the right external threat feeds, aggregating and correlating security event log data, putting this data in context for your business and recommending the right actions, not only requires a specific skill set but, to be effective, it also needs around-the-clock operations. A qualified managed security services provider will have invested in obtaining the knowledge, tools and required accreditations, so that their customers don’t have to worry about how to find, maintain or retain them.

Managed Security Reduces Complexity. Here’s another consideration: even if you decided to make a substantial investment in your own in-house security, there’s no guarantee that, as your business grows and changes, it will continue to be effective. As you grow, your IT network will expand.  With expansion, technology silos are created with different versions of operating systems and applications that don’t communicate with each other. In addition, different locations often end up running different versions of systems, complicating patch management and updates. Given the fact that many IT departments often can’t keep up with patches and updates, they leave vulnerabilities open for exploit. Add in the potential for violations of state and federal regulations, and the business cost of trying to manage it all yourself becomes even higher. Managed security solves this problem.

Managed Security Provides Continuous Vigilance. Cybercriminals are highly motivated and, therefore, relentless. So, it’s extremely hard to keep up with emerging threats because they are perpetually being released. Every day, the AV-TEST Institute registers over 350,000 new malicious programs (malware) and potentially unwanted applications (PUA). Managed security addresses this issue by providing 24x7x365 monitoring and oversight of your network. Suspicious events trigger alerts that threat analysts at the security operations center can follow up on and address immediately.  This round the clock management significantly reduces the potential risk for significant damage that happens when an intrusion or attack goes undetected.

Managed Security Provides Ongoing Assessments. A high level of protection can only be achieved when security is approached as a multi-layered, evolving discipline. A constant state of alert is required, and it’s crucial to test and regularly update security measures. A managed security program should include regularly-scheduled vulnerability assessments of your network environment. Periodic internal and external assessments can identify new, emerging vulnerabilities, allow for their proactive remediation, and ensure that security measures are kept up to date.

Managed Security Provides Dedicated Expert Resources That Free Up IT Staff. Security is one of multiple tasks for the typical IT staff. Managed security, on the other hand, is run by specialists who have access to the latest technology, training and threat intelligence. Their only job is to keep up with security developments and the newest threats, and are better equipped to respond to incidents.

Managed Security Supports Regulatory Compliance. A web of federal and state regulations, including HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, and PCI guidelines, mandate that companies in the relevant industries meet data-privacy protection and archival standards. Compliance means avoiding fines and lawsuits. With managed security in place, in-house IT staff can focus on other tasks, as well as strategy and future planning.

Those who have lulled themselves into false sense of security about their risk of attack, do so at their own peril. Unless you take the necessary protective steps, statistics show you’re highly likely to end up the victim of a breach or other cyberattack. The challenges facing today’s organizations underscores a simple fact – a new approach to network and data security is needed.  The best way to reduce the costs of data and network protection is to contract a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) that takes over the responsibilities for protecting your network for a monthly fee.

In closing, it’s important to note that implementing a managed security program can make significant improvements in your organization’s overall security posture. But using these services is not a guarantee that a security incident will never happen to your organization. And, while it does take some very important security tasks off your plate, having managed security services doesn’t relieve you of the ultimate responsibility for the security of your own organization. To be successful, the relationship should be viewed as a partnership in securing your organization; one that will always require a certain amount of time, attention and interaction on the part of the client.

If you are ready to explore how to cost-effectively improve your network security, we can help you decide if a managed security services program is right for your organization. Contact us today for a no-cost, risk-free preliminary evaluation.