How to Get Cost Effective Managed Security Services

SMBs have the exact same cybersecurity concerns of larger enterprises—perhaps even more so. Melinda Emerson writes in The Huffington Post that although big businesses tend to have the highly-publicised cyber attacks that get major news attention, over 60 percent of attacks affect SMBs.

That’s usually because they lack the same sophisticated tools to combat today’s evolving threats that larger enterprises have. As a result, criminals often view them as easy targets.

This of course is problematic because cybersecurity budgets are often more scarce for smaller companies. While major corporations may have millions to devote to cybersecurity, SMBs need to make every dollar count.

One way they’re stretching their budgets further while heightening security is through managed security services. This is where services are outsourced to a third-party expert known as a managed security service provider (MSSP).

Let’s now discuss some of the critical components of managed security services and how to find the right MSSP at an affordable price.

Assessment

One of the first things an MSSP will do is assess your organisation’s current level of security. This examines how effective your cybersecurity practices are and identifies any potential areas of weakness.

Some examples include active network scanning and passive network scanning as well as taking inventory of your overall security infrastructure.

Keep in mind that a qualified MSSP will also determine if you’re compliant with relevant standards such as the PCI DSS, GDPR, HIPAA, and so on. These types of regulations include a set of best practices that are crucial for staying ahead of cyber criminals.

Security Monitoring

As you might imagine, managed security services revolve around ongoing security monitoring. It’s all about identifying vulnerabilities to both your internal and external networks.

New events are constantly occurring on your network. While most are innocuous and pose no threats to security, a small percentage can compromise it Therefore, it’s important for organisations to have a team of security experts to stay on top of this process.

Since most SMBs lack the manpower for this, an MSSP fulfills that role.

Security monitoring is done through methods like collecting and reviewing security logs and network analysis.

Detection

Next there’s threat detection. This can involve a network intrusion detection system (IDS), host IDS and wireless IDS, which is a type of technology that notifies an administrator of any suspicious activity.

There’s also file integrity monitoring—a process that ensures that files have not been damaged or manipulated in any way.

Response Activities

Finally, there’s the actual incident response where an MSSP swiftly takes the necessary actions to address and resolve a threat. This is critical because it helps contain and proactively manage an incident.

Time is of the essence here, so having an expert who’s adept at incident response can mean the difference between a minor issue that can be quickly remedied and a major disaster that may cost thousands or even millions.

A Cost-Effective Alternative

As we mentioned earlier, SMBs are by no means immune to cyber attacks. In fact, criminals tend to target them more frequently than larger businesses.

Unfortunately, most SMBs are dealing with a limited budget, which prevents them from being able to hire a full-time in-house IT team. With the median pay of a cybersecurity specialist being over $121,900 AUD as of mid-2015, this simply isn’t something that many smaller companies can afford.

Fortunately, managed security services provide the necessary cybersecurity but at an affordable cost. You still have access to 24/7 protection and many of the features of an in-house team but without breaking the bank.  

However, the key to getting cost effective managed security services is knowing what to look for in an MSSP. Here are some key things to keep in mind.

Scale as You Go

Perhaps the most critical thing to look for is an MSSP that’s willing to grow along with you.

If you’re a relatively new startup, you may be dealing with a micro-budget and only need very select services initially. But as time goes on and your company inevitably grows, you’ll want to work with a provider that’s capable of revving up your services.

Or maybe you need extensive services right off the bat but would like to cut back as your company decides to become more lean.

It’s all about being agile and nimble. Therefore, you’ll want to insist on choosing an MSSP that can flex both ways. This is your ticket to finding managed services that keep you safe, while at the same time accommodating your budget.

Flexibility

Security budgets can ebb and flow throughout the year, especially for SMBs. If you encounter a major expense somewhere else in your business, it could reduce the amount of money you’re able to devote to cybersecurity.

So you don’t want to have to worry about the implications that an unexpected hiccup can have. Ideally, you’ll find an MSSP that’s willing to temporarily cut back on underutilized services as you’re acclimating to your new budget.

For instance, it’s nice if you can pay for a new service that you truly need by eliminating another service that may not be necessary. This can be a huge help for making it more affordable.

Only Get the Services You Need

Most providers offer a robust set of services. They’ll typically start out at the basic level for very small businesses or even solopreneurs and go all the way up to the enterprise level.

As a result, there can be a radical disparity in terms of pricing. You may find that a basic package costs under $1,000 AUD a month, while a more comprehensive one is well over the $10,000 AUD mark.

Therefore, you’ll want to play close attention to the scope of services that are offered with each package and choose the one that fully meets your needs without going overboard and overspending on extraneous features that aren’t really necessary.

Remember that most MSSPs will allow you to add-on as you go. So if you find that your original package doesn’t quite cut it, you can always upgrade later on. The bottom line is that you’ll want to know exactly what you’re paying for as well as what isn’t included before signing a contract.

Look for the Rising Stars

You can’t always rely solely on a brand name when determining the caliber of an MSSP. There are plenty of diamonds in the rough that bring a high level of ability and expertise but have yet to earn major recognition.

Another way to get comprehensive services at a great value is to keep an eye out for the “rising stars.”

This refers to cybersecurity professionals that are relatively new to the industry and still getting their name out there. They’re hungry for success and willing to work hard for it. They may not be part of a globally recognized company, but they can certainly get the job done.

That’s why it’s important to look beyond the surface and dig a little deeper into a provider’s full credentials. Check out their bios, experience, skill set, etc. to see what they truly bring to the table rather than merely looking at the name of the cybersecurity firm.

Finding these rising stars is one of the best ways to get outstanding service without it coming with a huge price tag.  

One Final Point

At the end of the day, the reason you’re paying for managed security services is because of the value you receive. So one last thing to keep in mind is the level of service an MSSP provides.

Are they going to do the heavy lifting and provide you with timely alerts along with relevant data, research and advice? Or are they simply going to rehash data from your existing technologies that you could have found yourself?

It’s crucial that you choose a provider like the former that basically gives you information on a silver platter. So it’s smart to ask for samples of incident notifications, scanning reports, etc.  

This should give you a good idea of what it would be like to partner with an MSSP and what their overall level of involvement would be in your organisation’s cybersecurity.

Comprehensive Cybersecurity at a Reasonable Price

Solid cybersecurity is something that nearly every business needs in the 21st century. It’s really non-negotiable these days.

And given the fact that SMBs tend to be targeted more aggressively than larger enterprises, smaller companies need to be especially diligent about it.

Fortunately, we’re living in an era where the concept of cybersecurity as a service is flourishing. This model of outsourcing and using managed security services rather than assembling an in-house team has really taken off—something that’s very much in the favor of SMBs.

The best part is that these services don’t have to be expensive. In fact, many providers are quite affordable. It’s simply a matter of finding the right MSSP that offers the specific services that you need at a reasonable price.

Which types of cybersecurity services is your business most interested in? Please let us know:

 

Image Credits

Featured image: Christina Morillo / Pexels

In-post image 1: Christina Morillo / Pexels

In-post image 2: rawpixel.com / Pexels

Ajay Unni

Ajay Unni is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Stickman. Ajay specialises in helping customers manage the growing threat of data breaches and compliance with globally accepted industry standards for data security and compliance. More articles by Ajay Unni

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