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If stories of all the cyber-attacks that happen every day appeared in your news feed, they would crowd everything else out. The reality is that cyber-crime is increasing and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, the global cost of cybercrime is predicted to go from about $8 trillion in 2023 to $10.5 trillion by 2025

Doing business in this kind of digital landscape means that protecting information and access to IT systems has become a critical capability of any organization that uses the internet and that calls for a sophisticated security strategy. That’s why executives are turning to managed cybersecurity services to get the cybersecurity expertise they need to quickly mature their defenses and lower their risk. 

The risk of cyber-crime is something that every business leader must face as they’re managing their organization’s overall business risk. In this article, we’re going to help you explore if managed cybersecurity solutions are right for your organization. Here’s what we’ll cover: 

It’s time to stop struggling and get IT rolling with managed IT services. In this article we’re going to walk you through the reasons why managed IT services is the solution you’ve been looking for, and how to choose the right provider so that the results of your partnership meet your expectations.

Cybersecurity Red Flags

The rising cyber-crime rate is just one sign that executives need to pay closer attention to security. There are other signs that also indicate that it’s time for a more sophisticated security strategy.

Have you had a cyber-attack?

The most obvious sign that you have gaps in security is that you’ve been the victim of one or more cyber-attacks. While it’s true that no one can 100% guarantee that you’ll never have a cyber incident, having robust security with managed cybersecurity services can ensure that an incident doesn’t turn into a disaster.

Do you need to comply with regulations for data privacy?

The stakes are higher when you have to prove that you’re safeguarding the information that you gather and store for customers, vendors and employees. Getting controls in place to meet regulations is just part of the process. Maintaining security requires constant monitoring and periodic adjustments to stay current.

Do you need to qualify for cyber insurance?

If you’ve applied for cyber insurance and were denied coverage, then your security strategy probably doesn’t meet up with current best practices.

Do you feel like you’re in the security business?

Is your small business trying to hire and retain an internal IT staff that can handle everything that needs to be done with security? Like it or not, if you want security to be done in-house, you’re in the security business, and that takes focus away from your main line of business.

Related: 5 Signs It’s Time to Outsource Security

How to Recognize Gaps in Security

If you recognize any of the security red flags we just covered, you have a reason to consider working with a managed cybersecurity provider. However, there’s another way to validate your feelings that you need to ramp up security and that’s to get a cybersecurity assessment.

The cybersecurity assessment process begins with person-to-person interviews with business and IT leaders. The purpose of these discussions is to find out how data and access to IT systems are currently being controlled. The interviewer will want to know about your immediate concerns regarding security and may ask questions like:

  1. Do you have up-to-date security policies?
  2. Are employees trained to follow policies?
  3. Do you have regulatory compliance needs?
  4. Do you have an incident response plan?
  5. Are you following security best practices?


Internal and External Vulnerability Scans

In addition to the interview process, a cybersecurity assessment includes scans that will test how hard or easy it is to break through your network perimeter. External vulnerability scanning isn’t the same as a penetration test. A penetration test is an aggressive process that tests defenses with both automated and manual methods. A vulnerability scan is an automated scan that looks for weaknesses.

Cybersecurity Assessment Report

The findings from a cybersecurity assessment report will bring to light gaps that need to be addressed. Some of the recommendations that come out of the report will need urgent attention. These are things like replacing out-of-support software or adding MFA to identity management. Other improvements will take more time.

Uncovering Opportunities to Improve Security

While you’re thinking about the possibility of bringing on a managed cybersecurity company, it’s important to remember that being secure isn’t merely the setting up of technical barriers. It’s also about human behavior. In fact, the strongest technical perimeter isn’t going to do a lot of good if an employee inadvertently lets an attacker into your IT systems.

Whether you decide to have a formal cybersecurity assessment done or not, there are questions you can ask your IT team and department managers that will start to uncover opportunities to improve security. Here are the questions:

  1. Do we require multi-factor authentication (MFA) for accessing corporate and online accounts?
  2. Are we using hardware or software that is out-of-support?
  3. Are we enforcing the security policies we already have?
  4. Do our employee offboarding procedures adequately address account access?
  5. Do employees have access to the information they need to do their jobs and no more?
  6. Do we have cyber insurance?
  7. Do we have ongoing cybersecurity awareness training for our employees?
  8. Are our firewalls and security devices configured properly?
  9. Do we let employees use their personal devices for business use?
  10. Do we routinely opt for convenience over security?

The answer to question #10 is likely a contributor to your answers to the other questions. Oftentimes, it’s just not convenient to establish proper security practices and behaviors, let alone manage them over time.

Along with dealing with the common mindset that security is inconvenient, many small IT teams just don’t know how to create an effective cybersecurity strategy. What happens is that they buy a few software tools and cobble them together in the best way they know. This often turns out to be not only costly but not very effective. What’s needed is a cybersecurity strategy.

Building a Multi-layered Cybersecurity Strategy

Are you familiar with the features of a medieval castle? The structure is usually at a location like a mountain top or riverside cliff that gives the people an advantage over their attackers. The walls are high and difficult to scale. Defenders rim the walls with various weapons and are ready to repel attackers. The windows are slits that make it hard to target someone on the inside. There’s a drawbridge that can be lifted and a moat that circles the castle perimeter. The door itself is thick and reinforced with iron.

That’s what you call a layered defense. If an attacker makes it through one layer, the next layer can stop them. Some attackers are going to turn away when they encounter your layered defense and go elsewhere to find a less fortified victim to capture.

Cybersecurity strategy follows the same idea. It’s made up of technical and non-technical layers that work together to protect data, IT systems and people from cyber-criminals.

For example, an email spam filter is in place to prevent phishing emails from getting through to computer users. If the filter doesn’t detect a fraudulent email, then it’s up to the computer user to recognize it as fraudulent and know not to click on any links or download any attachments.

Each organization is unique but there are some basic components that should be included in every security strategy such as:

  • Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)
  • Up-to-Date Hardware and Software
  • Cybersecurity Awareness Training
  • Simulated Phishing Training for Employees
  • Comprehensive Email Security
  • Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)
  • Gateway Security
  • Segregated Backups
  • Patch Management
  • Cyber Insurance
  • Secure Remote Access
  • Security Policies

Basic cybersecurity measures aren’t enough to defend against modern cyber threats so organizations of any size also need sophisticated tactics like:

Pulling tech tools off the shelf does not make a strategy. That’s where the services of a vCISO come in.

vCISO Guidance for Cybersecurity Strategy

A Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is an executive level role that most small and medium businesses don’t have because of their size. That doesn’t mean they don’t need what a CISO brings to the table. It just doesn’t make sense to have someone in that position full-time. A virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO) is a cost-effective way to get executive level guidance in just the right amount.

The services of a vCISO should be provided to you when you’re working with an outsourced cybersecurity services company. This person brings together the business, technology, and security needs of your organization in the creation of cybersecurity strategy.

In fact, once business leaders recognize the value that a vCISO brings to their business, they’re more confident about how they’re managing cyber risk because they’re better informed.

Related: Why You Need a vCISO

Roles Included a Cybersecurity Department

A vCISO isn’t the only security-specific role that a business needs to build and implement an effective security strategy. You also need the people who will manage and maintain the security controls you have in place on a daily basis. Plus you need people to monitor and respond to alerts.

Some of the roles needed to fill a complete security department include:

  • Security Operations Manager – Oversees day-to-day security operations.
  • Security Analyst – Manages security tools and responds to alerts.
  • Security Engineer – Manages and maintains security infrastructure.
  • Security Automation Engineer – Creates automations to improve security processes.
  • Data Assurance Engineer – Responsible for data backup processes and data integrity.

Just as it’s not cost-effective to hire a full-time vCISO, it doesn’t make sense to have an entire internal security staff. Fortunately, you can get access to all the cybersecurity expertise you need when you work with a managed cyber defense company.

Evaluating Cybersecurity Services Companies

It’s one thing to know that you need outsourced services, it’s another to know the questions to ask when you’re evaluating cybersecurity providers. How can you determine if they can meet your expectations and deliver on what they promise? Here are a few questions to include in your consideration:

  1. Do they have staff who are 100% focused on security?
  2. Are vCISO services included?
  3. What third-party certifications do they hold?
  4. Do they already serve other clients in your industry?
  5. Can you talk to any current clients about their experience?

Your conversation may also include some technical components and in this article, we’ve given you some technologies to look for. However, the tech tools the company you’re vetting uses shouldn’t dominate the discussion. Part of your conversation should help you understand how you’ll work together.

Your Responsibilities When Outsourcing Cybersecurity

Outsourcing security doesn’t mean you offload all your responsibilities. You and your employees will always have a role to play in protecting data and access to IT systems. In fact, the behaviors and common practices of the people within your organization can either negate or support security.

The first thing in the list of your responsibilities is that you need to be open to the recommendations that your cybersecurity services partner brings to you. These can be recommendations like:

  • Making investments in hardware and software
  • Adopting security standards and best practices
  • Obtaining cyber insurance
  • Updating and enforcing policies for data access
  • Providing employees with cybersecurity awareness training

Another important thing that your managed cybersecurity services company is going to need from you is open communication. Communication is key to establishing a relationship that acts as a partnership.

Related: Partnering with Your Cybersecurity Services Provider: Your Key Role

The Cost of Cybersecurity Services

When you’re evaluating the cost of outsourcing cybersecurity services, you also need to consider the price of a cyber-attack. For a small business, that’s about $20,000. Even if the dollars you spend on cybersecurity are comparable to the cost of a cyber-attack, it’s much better to not have to deal with a damaged reputation. That’s an outcome that can affect your ability to get and keep customers and employees for years to come.

It’s difficult to compare what you’ll pay different cybersecurity service providers because each company will have its own approach and tech stack. We can, however, uncover the cost drivers to give you a jumping off place for your conversations. Here’s what you can look for:

  1. Security Software Tools and Management – Includes monitoring and responding to alerts.
  2. Security Labor and Expertise – Security professionals and their ongoing training.
  3. Onboarding fees – Implementation of a full discovery or your IT systems, install tools and initiate services.
  4. Network Improvements – To bring your IT systems up to date.
  5. Cybersecurity Awareness Training – Subscription service that could be recommended or required.
  6. Cyber insurance – Not provided by the service company but may be a requirement to do business.

Again, don’t forget that cybersecurity is a partnership with your provider. Playing your part in the relationship will mean that you commit resources in the form of time for your people to collaborate with the security team.

Related: How much do cybersecurity services cost?

How to Ramp Up Security… Fast

There’s one more thing to think about when you’re considering outsourcing cybersecurity services and that’s time. How quickly do you need to improve security? If you’ve recognized that you have gaps and that your internal team doesn’t have the expertise or bandwidth to fill those gaps, you can’t wait.

If you wait to do something different, you’re neglecting to address the high level of risk you’re facing today. You need to ramp up security fast and outsourcing cybersecurity services is the way to do that.

When you start working with a quality provider, you can expect your security posture to look a lot different after just 90 days. As they begin to implement security best practices, they’ll prioritize improvements. Some improvements will be relatively easy, like updating and patching your software. Other improvements will take a little more time and investment but are equally crucial, like upgrading your data backup equipment and procedures.

Every company’s security improvement path looks different, but the goal is the same – to effectively manage the risk of cyber-crime so that the business can continue to operate and thrive.

Managed Cyber Defense from Bellwether

Here at Bellwether, we provide Gulf Coast businesses and nonprofits with cybersecurity services as a standalone service or in conjunction with managed IT services. Our security operations are SOC 2 Type 2 certified which is a signal of not only competence but commitment to keeping clients – and our own organization – safe from cyber predators.

Get in touch and find out how you can ramp up security FAST.

Contact us.