5 Factors for Choosing a Managed Security Services Provider

The popularity of managed security services has skyrocketed in recent years. As threats have increased and the impact of breaches and breakdowns has grown, organizations are increasingly turning to this approach to boost protection, trim costs and simplify operations.

Yet getting the most out of a managed security services provider (MSSP) isn’t guaranteed. Too often, organizations struggle with providers that lack technical expertise, deliver inadequate service and support, and fall woefully behind with technology. Not surprisingly, these issues can undermine protection, elevate risks, and lead to unanticipated costs.

Make no mistake, today’s risk landscape is formidable—and highly volatile. Zero-day attacks are the norm. Malware is increasingly sophisticated. New and more ingenious assaults appear every day.

Middle market companies are particularly at risk. They also face steep cost pressures and must adapt to rapid and ongoing change. As a result, it’s essential to work with a MSSP that delivers the highest level of protection.

Elevating protection

When designed effectively, a managed security services framework permits your business to embrace advanced protections while freeing up time and money to focus on core strategic issues. It helps avoid problems like technology obsolescence and technical debt while introducing more predictable costs.

Maximizing the value of an MSSP relationship revolves around five critical factors.

Critical factor No. 1: The technology framework

The whole point of managed security services is to establish a powerful line of defense against attacks. A top-tier MSSP offers sophisticated tools, software, capabilities, and services that build out a multi-layer, zero-trust protection framework. An MSSP can also deliver expertise that frees internal teams from time-consuming, low-value manual tasks while also eliminating gaps that fuel cybersecurity risks.

What does a best-in-class provider look like? It offers products and services built atop industry-leading technology platforms. These vendor relationships dramatically increase the odds that a business using managed security services has the most advanced technology in place at any given moment, and the hardware and software are tightly integrated within an as-a-service framework. This includes everything from monitoring and response to protecting mobile apps and conducting reviews.

An important tip: Look for a provider that offers broad and deep cybersecurity experience along with best-in-class technology.

Critical factor No. 2: The flexibility and scalability of services

The last couple of years—marked by sophisticated cyberattacks and a proliferation of highly destructive ransomware—demonstrate just how important it is to have a flexible and scalable cybersecurity model. Managed offerings shouldn’t be relegated to a set-and-forget cubby hole. It’s vital to construct a framework that’s equipped for today but also can scale and adapt as threats evolve.

What does this framework look like? In addition to the latest technology, it’s constructed around systems, policies, and standards that promote best-practice cloud designs. An experienced MSSP will also address security engineering, identity access, and authentication tools, security and operations (DevSecOps), and other critical security components. With a highly connected framework for cybersecurity, your organization can adapt to new threats as needed and seamlessly update technology and processes.

An important tip: Understand how an MSSP addresses all the pieces of the cybersecurity puzzle as well as how it orchestrates people, processes, and technology to deliver a maximum level of protection.

Critical factor No. 3: The entire scope of an MSSP’s offerings

For many businesses, it’s painfully obvious that an accumulation of solutions can lead to new problems. In the managed security services space, this can play out in a not-so-obvious way. Businesses continually layer on ad hoc services or combine them with in-house tools until, without realizing it, conflicts and entirely new vulnerabilities emerge.

A best-in-class provider designs a comprehensive cybersecurity framework that ties all the components together. This outsourced model spans assessment, technology delivery, process optimization, risk mitigation, forensic analysis, remediation, and even staffing. It can also include a virtual chief information security officer (CISO) that delivers instant expertise. The result is an ability to effectively monitor, detect, and respond to security threats.

An important tip: Devote adequate time to questioning vendors and doing the due diligence required to build a more interconnected and comprehensive cybersecurity protection framework.

Critical factor No. 4: How well a provider understands your business and its unique cybersecurity needs

Vendors tend to develop formulas and templates that simplify deployments. Up to a point, this makes sense, yet many toss out a one-size-fits-all approach to cybersecurity and expect businesses to conform. But no two organizations operate the same way. Consequently, it’s essential to find an MSSP that takes the time and puts in the effort to design a custom solution.

Top providers have an extensive framework in place for evaluating their customer’s needs, selecting the right technologies, engineering optimal processes and workflows, and establishing the right security protections and regulatory controls. What’s more, they display a high level of commitment to superior service and support.

An important tip: Question a provider and learn what cybersecurity services it offers but also how committed it is to industry standards, how it uses metrics and KPIs, and what road map and future vision it has. Also, don’t overlook practical matters like guarantees and service-level agreements.

Critical factor No. 5: An ongoing focus on maximizing value and reducing risk

The primary goal for any organization is to lower risk. In order to reach a best-practice level, both the vendor and the customer must be in sync. Although organizations often assemble their own ad hoc mix of cybersecurity tools, outsourcing the task to a company that specializes in cybersecurity solutions raises the odds that the framework will deliver superior protection in a cost-effective way.

A managed security services provider can help a company rethink critical metrics, revamp processes, adapt staffing, and integrate people, processes, and technology. It might also take advantage of a virtual CISO and an eGRC framework that interconnects with cybersecurity tools. This approach can lower administrative overhead, reduce technical debt, and boost resilience.

An important tip: A managed security services provider with the right technology and expertise can simplify, transform and reinvent a company’s risk framework. This can free your organization up to focus on innovation, modernization, and business transformation.

Cybersecurity isn’t going to get any easier in the months and years ahead, but if you take the time to find the right MSSP, it can pay off with elevated insight and protection.

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This article was written by RSM US LLP and originally appeared on 2023-11-02.
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