Cybersecurity Outsourcing: Tips for Finding the Ideal Vendor

Ihor Sasovets
Lead Security Engineer at TechMagic, experienced SDET engineer. Eager about security and web penetration testing.
Cybersecurity Outsourcing: Tips for Finding the Ideal Vendor

81% of corporate leaders entrust their cybersecurity functions to third-party vendors, either entirely or in support, as per the Deloitte Report 2022.

Outsourcing cybersecurity services is a strategic solution for organizations to bolster their security stance while addressing the cybersecurity talent shortage. This approach saves costs and grants access to specialized expertise that many companies lack internally. Moreover, it enables organizations to concentrate on revenue-generating operations.

The benefits of outsourcing cybersecurity services can indeed vary depending on the size and maturity of an organization. For small to mid-sized businesses, outsourcing can significantly streamline the process and provide access to specialized skills. However, in the case of mature mid-size and large organizations, they might have established in-house security services due to various factors, including stringent compliance requirements.

According to the Deloitte Future of Cyber Survey, 99% of respondents outsourced some cybersecurity operations, often opting for a hybrid model — mixing outsourced and in-house operations.

In order to get the aforementioned benefits, many organizations turn to service providers to handle specific projects or their entire IT and cybersecurity needs. However, evaluating potential vendors often proves challenging for many buyers lacking the necessary expertise.

In this article, we've compiled essential information to guide you through the complexities of evaluating cybersecurity outsourcing vendors. Our goal is to equip you with the necessary insights to understand what to anticipate and prepare for when searching for the right cybersecurity partner.

What is cybersecurity outsourcing?

Cybersecurity outsourcing involves entrusting a company's cybersecurity operations, a core function or the entire process, to a managed service provider (MSP). Teaming up with a dependable cybersecurity partner empowers small and large companies to access substantial resources and a pool of security experts beyond what their in-house teams can typically offer.

Cybersecurity firms offer flexibility in outsourcing models, allowing clients to tailor the support they seek from managed security services. This can range from:

  • one-time services to long-term partnerships
  • fully outsource their cybersecurity needs, where a dedicated team manages all aspects of cybersecurity
  • staff augmentation, hiring outsourced professionals

to collaborate onsite with their internal security team.

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Key Reasons to Outsource Cybersecurity Services

outsource security services

Outsourcing cybersecurity is undeniably cost-effective

Rather than maintaining an in-house team, businesses can save substantially by leveraging external expertise and resources. By sidestepping the expenses of hiring, training, and maintaining a full-fledged in-house security team, companies can still access a comprehensive group of security professionals. Moreover, this approach bolsters defenses against increasingly sophisticated cyber threats, averting potential system havoc. This not only secures information but also mitigates overhead expenses from the aftermath of cyber-attacks.

Outsourcing cybersecurity services allows collaboration with top experts worldwide

Managed security service providers offer a broad spectrum of skills, including security incident analysis and architecture, typically hard to find in a single individual. All this expertise is available at a fraction of the cost. Furthermore, MSPs consistently access the latest cutting-edge technologies, freeing businesses to focus on core operations while entrusting their projects or systems to capable hands.

The prevailing shortage of security professionals poses challenges leading to many organizations' data breaches and cybersecurity issue

Outsourcing cybersecurity needs emerges as a solution to this staffing gap. By partnering with an MSP, businesses alleviate the pressure of recruiting staff on short notice or managing an in-house team. The service provider takes on the responsibility under supervision, swiftly allocating personnel, infrastructure, and resources as required. MSPs, catering to multiple clients, boast a wealth of best practices, tools, and refined processes honed over time, readily accessible to organizations that partner with them. This allows seamless integration without resistance.

Failure to comply jeopardizes your business's security and subjects you to substantial fines and penalties

Understanding regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU and various state laws in the USA is vital. Rigorous regulations like the GDPR impose hefty penalties for non-compliance, reaching up to €20 million or 4% of the company’s global turnover. By outsourcing cybersecurity, companies can rely on experienced professionals who are well-versed in these regulations, thereby ensuring compliance without the need for internal deciphering and implementation, leveraging the wealth of experience already available.

Concerns about cybersecurity outsourcing

Why do some organizations readily outsource several essential business functions but hesitate regarding cybersecurity? This hesitation is often rooted in basic assumptions and misaligned expectations of what outsourcing cybersecurity entails.

Outsourced cybersecurity isn’t an all-or-nothing deal. Your cybersecurity framework is multifaceted, encompassing various components like strategy, architecture, engineering, operations, and compliance. Cybersecurity companies specialize in different aspects, allowing you to selectively outsource specific areas while retaining control over others.

This flexibility enables you to address weaknesses within your program effectively.

  • External providers may not consistently meet your business requirements or expected standards. Variations in response times during critical incidents could increase vulnerability. Assessing potential providers, scrutinizing service level agreements, and ensuring their quality and reliability align with your needs is essential before opting for cybersecurity outsourcing.
  • Cybersecurity service providers often manage several clients simultaneously, potentially impacting your organization's needs prioritization. However, this can be addressed through a Service Level Agreement (SLA).
  • When outsourcing, the data monitored from your systems is stored outside your company's boundaries, introducing a risk of potential data leakage. The Security Operations Center (SOC) being external may limit your capacity to analyze threats effectively. For effective collaboration, it's essential to streamline processes without requiring constant permissions or data access requests from your SOC team, as they operate round the clock and need autonomy to respond swiftly to incidents.

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Who Should Consider Cybersecurity Outsourcing?

outsourced security services

For startups and SMBs, often juggling limited resources or expertise in IT, cybersecurity outsourcing emerges as a lifeline. They commonly delegate their entire security operation or specific functions to MSPs, alleviating the strain on their in-house teams without draining their budgets.

In contrast, larger enterprises approach cybersecurity outsourcing with different intentions, aiming for more efficient problem-solving. Typically, they retain critical departments like the security incident response team in-house while outsourcing partial security solutions. With greater expertise and resources, these enterprises invest in developing internal cybersecurity operations, outsourcing only the most complex issues requiring external expert intervention.

Having grasped the essentials of cybersecurity outsourcing, our focus turns to selecting the right partner.

How to Choose a Cybersecurity Outsourcing Partner?

How to Choose a Cybersecurity Outsourcing Partner?

Discover your cybersecurity needs

Assessing your cybersecurity needs is the cornerstone of making informed decisions about outsourcing. It's akin to conducting a comprehensive health checkup for your digital infrastructure — a crucial step in fortifying your defenses against potential threats.

The starting point in this journey is a thorough risk assessment. This involves peering into the inner workings of your organization's digital ecosystem, identifying vulnerabilities, and understanding potential points of entry for cyber threats. Risk assessment lays the groundwork for determining the level of protection needed and, subsequently, the areas where outsourcing cybersecurity becomes imperative.

Set clear goals and expectations during this assessment phase:

  • What are your specific security pain points?
  • Are you primarily concerned about data breaches, malware, or other cyberattacks?
  • Are you looking to augment your in-house team or seeking comprehensive outsourced solutions?

Defining these goals helps tailor your outsourcing requirements to address your organization's unique needs precisely. Additionally, having a clear set of expectations enables you to align your cybersecurity objectives with the capabilities and offerings of potential outsourcing partners.

Let’s take a look at the common goals for what you may need the cybersecurity outsourcing services for.

Building Secure SDLC

Security specialists can help to make the development process secure and prevent common vulnerabilities in early stages of software development lifecycle.

Testing and Quality Assurance Services

These services are critical for validating software functionality and performance and encompass various testing procedures.

Penetration Testing

This involves external hackers attempting to breach an organization's network or computer system. Consider hiring a specialized penetration testing company or conducting it internally.

Governance and Compliance

Outsourcing governance and compliance services aid organizations in navigating complex regulatory standards like ISO, SOC2, PCI DSS, GDPR, and HIPAA, ensuring adherence to crucial frameworks.

Managed Security Operations

Comprehensive management of critical operational components such as policies, procedures, equipment, data, human resources, and external contacts. This holistic approach fortifies a business's cybersecurity effectiveness, encompassing physical components and services supporting vital functions.

Vulnerability Management

This critical function involves methodically identifying, evaluating, and rectifying weaknesses within an organization’s IT infrastructure, spanning networks, applications, and systems.

Security Awareness Training

Depending on the outsourcing model, cybersecurity service providers offer training to their experts or your internal employees. This training equips them with skills to identify and counter potential cyber threats, including phishing attacks, social engineering, and other cybercrimes.

Define your vendor selection criteria

security outsourcing services

Based on your cybersecurity needs, define your vendor selection criteria to ensure a successful partnership and robust security measures.

Expertise and Experience

  • Does the vendor possess experience in our industry and showcase successful case studies?
  • What specific cybersecurity expertise does the vendor offer, especially in threat intelligence and incident response?
  • Can the vendor demonstrate success in addressing challenges similar to ours?

Service Portfolio

  • Do their services cover our range of cybersecurity needs comprehensively?
  • Will their services scale alongside our business growth and evolving security demands?
  • How committed are they to adopting innovative cybersecurity solutions?

Compliance and Certifications

  • Do they adhere to relevant industry standards and and have proven expertise with regulations such as ISO 27001 and SOC2?
  • What certifications do they hold to ensure expertise in cybersecurity standards?

Pricing Models

  • What pricing models do they offer, and do they align with our budget?
  • Is there clarity on pricing, contracts, and additional costs associated with their services?

Security Practices

  • How do they secure their systems and protect client information?
  • What are their key performance metrics for incident response and historical success rates?

Communication

  • Does their company culture align with our organization's values?
  • Are their communication channels suitable for our preferences and needs?

References and Reputation

  • Can they provide references from existing clients to understand their performance and satisfaction levels?
  • How are they reviewed by industry experts and analysts in the cybersecurity landscape?

Note: Choose a vendor offering adaptable technology that grows alongside your business. The cybersecurity needs of a growing organization evolve. What suffices for a small team might not provide ample protection as you expand. The vendor's solutions should flexibly accommodate changing data volumes, network complexities, and expanding user bases, ensuring robust protection against cyber threats.

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Research and shortlist

In the phase of researching and shortlisting potential cybersecurity outsourcing vendors, it's crucial to conduct thorough due diligence to identify the best-fit partner for your organization's security needs. Here's a comprehensive approach:

  1. Explore various vendors, their offerings, and industry presence. Look into industry reports, forums, and publications for insights into market leaders, emerging players, and their specialties.
  2. Seek referrals from industry peers, colleagues, or professional networks. Recommendations based on firsthand experiences can provide valuable insights into vendor reliability, service quality, and customer satisfaction.
  3. Draft clear and concise RFPs or RFIs outlining your security needs and expectations. Request detailed information from vendors regarding their services, past experiences, approach to security, compliance measures, and pricing structures.
  4. Screen potential vendors based on their responses to the RFP/RFI. Shortlist those aligning closely with your criteria. Consider their responsiveness, willingness to understand your needs, and ability to provide tailored solutions.

Meet the vendors and evaluate

Once you've compiled a list of potential cybersecurity outsourcing partners, the next step involves meeting them to assess their suitability for your organization's needs.

Schedule introductory meetings to get to know each vendor. Use this opportunity to understand their approach, expertise, and how well they align with your organization's goals.

Request a comprehensive presentation or demonstration of their services and capabilities. This allows you to visualize their offerings and gauge their depth of understanding regarding your security needs. Engage in discussions that delve into their methodologies, response to security incidents, flexibility in adapting to your requirements, and potential strategies for risk mitigation.

Examine sample reports provided by the vendor, such as monthly updates or incident reports. Clarity and usefulness in these reports are vital indicators of the vendor's efficiency. Inadequate or unclear reports could signify potential issues in the vendor's performance.

Assess their incident response plan's readiness to eliminate threats like malware. They should showcase expertise in executing fast SLAs for incident response, proving their ability to respond to unique threat scenarios effectively.

Check security and compliance assessment

cyber security outsource

When selecting a cybersecurity outsourcing partner, conducting a thorough security and compliance assessment is critical. This assessment ensures that the chosen partner aligns with your organization's security standards and regulatory requirements. Consider these aspects during the assessment:

Security Protocols and Measures

  • How does the partner secure their infrastructure? Evaluate their encryption methods, access controls, and data protection measures.
  • What protocols and firewalls do they employ to safeguard against network breaches and unauthorized access?
  • Do they have a comprehensive incident response plan in place? How do they handle and mitigate security breaches?

Data Protection and Privacy

  • How do they handle sensitive data? Ensure they comply with data protection laws and have robust policies for data privacy.
  • Where and how is your data stored? Assess their data storage practices and who has access to sensitive information.

Compliance Adherence

  • Are they compliant with industry-specific regulations (e.g., ISO 27001 and SOC2)? Request documentation and evidence of compliance.
  • Check for certifications relevant to their services and industry standards.

Risk Management and Assessment

  • How often do they conduct risk assessments? Do they perform vulnerability scans and penetration testing?
  • What strategies do they employ to mitigate identified risks and vulnerabilities?

Security Audits

  • Do they conduct regular security audits and assessments? Request sample reports and audits for review.
  • How transparent are they with their audit findings and security reports? Ensure clarity and relevance in the reports provided.

Employee Training

  • Do they offer cybersecurity training to their employees? Inquire about their training programs to assess their security awareness efforts.
  • What procedures do they follow for employee background checks? Ensure their staff is trustworthy and qualified.
  • How agile are they in responding to new threats and evolving security landscapes?
  • What initiatives do they have to continuously improve their security practices?

Follow contract negotiation and finalization

This stage involves aligning your organization's needs with the offerings of the chosen vendor. Here are critical steps in this process:

  1. Clarify and document the precise scope of services the vendor will provide. Ensure it covers all your cybersecurity requirements, leaving no room for ambiguity. Establish clear SLAs defining the quality and level of service the vendor will deliver. These should include incident response times, resolution benchmarks, and uptime commitments.
  2. Determine accountability in case of a breach — will it fall on the agency, or are you willing to share responsibility? Additionally, the SLA specifies the expected level of protection, monitoring, and threat detection.
  3. Define data handling protocols, ensuring the vendor's approach aligns with your organization's security and privacy standards. Address data ownership, encryption practices, and data breach protocols.
  4. Negotiate pricing models and payment structures that fit your budget and provide flexibility. Ensure transparency in pricing and billing to avoid surprises. Establish clear exit strategies and termination clauses to safeguard your interests if the partnership needs to end or service expectations are unmet.

Ensure effective onboarding and ongoing relationship

Choosing a cybersecurity outsourcing partner ensures a seamless onboarding process and fosters a strong ongoing relationship. Here are essential points for effective onboarding and maintaining a lasting partnership:

  1. Do they have a detailed plan for integrating their services into your existing systems?
  2. Will there be a dedicated contact person for a smooth transition and ongoing communication?
  3. How do they transfer essential information about your infrastructure and security protocols?
  4. Are there clear communication channels and escalation procedures defined for both routine operations and emergencies?
  5. Will there be periodic meetings to review performance and address any concerns?
  6. Is there a structured process to gather feedback and suggestions for improvement?
  7. Are there well-defined SLAs for monitoring and measuring the vendor's performance?
  8. Do they conduct periodic audits or assessments to ensure compliance and effectiveness?
  9. Do they maintain thorough documentation of all security-related activities and changes made?
  10. How often do they provide comprehensive reports detailing security activities, incidents, and improvements?

When should you start outsourcing?

Ideally, the best time to outsource cybersecurity is before identifying a threat. On average, it takes about 287 days for IT teams to detect and contain a data breach. Seeking cybersecurity assistance before hackers infiltrate your systems safeguards sensitive company information from exposure.

But there are several scenarios where outsourcing cybersecurity becomes a viable solution for businesses:

  1. Immediate Threat Response: Detecting a significant cybersecurity threat demands swift action. Partnering with an established cybersecurity firm facilitates the rapid deployment of solutions.
  2. System Upgrades: Outdated systems and processes require upgrades. Outsourcing cybersecurity provides access to the latest systems and technologies.

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Is cybersecurity outsourcing the right choice for my company?

It might seem intuitive that smaller businesses face fewer cyber threats due to their smaller client base. However, this assumption is far from reality. Cybercriminals target 46% of businesses with fewer than a thousand employees. But your business doesn’t have to fall victim to their attacks.

Yet, the financial burden of long-term in-house cybersecurity might be unmanageable for small businesses. Ignoring the issue isn't an option either—cybercriminals are counting on that. If your business lacks the means to build an internal team, outsourcing cybersecurity becomes essential.

TechMagic aims to provide a secure digital environment for your business. Trust us as your steadfast cybersecurity partner, safeguarding your organization while you steer it toward success.

We stand as an ISO 27001-certified company. These credentials and affiliations reflect TechMagic’s unwavering commitment to excellence, security, and adherence to industry standards. They assure our clients that they are collaborating with a company deeply focused on delivering superior services while prioritizing data security and fulfilling industry-specific requisites.

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FAQs

  1. How can I determine if my organization needs to outsource cybersecurity or handle it in-house?

    Consider factors like budget constraints, internal expertise, and the evolving threat landscape. Outsourcing might be beneficial if your organization lacks specialized skills or struggles with maintaining up-to-date security measures.

  2. What criteria should I prioritize when evaluating potential cybersecurity outsourcing vendors?

    When assessing cybersecurity outsourcing vendors, prioritize their security certifications, experience, track record, responsiveness, scalability, service offerings, compliance adherence, and the ability to align with your organization’s specific security needs and goals.

  3. What are the typical steps in the vendor selection process for cybersecurity outsourcing?

    The vendor selection process involves defining your organization's security needs, conducting thorough research, creating a shortlist of potential vendors, requesting proposals, evaluating and comparing offerings, conducting interviews or demonstrations, checking references, negotiating terms, and making a well-informed decision.

  4. Is it possible to transition from an in-house cybersecurity team to outsourcing?

    Yes, transitioning from an in-house cybersecurity team to outsourcing is feasible. It requires careful planning, clear communication with internal teams, defining the scope of services to be outsourced, ensuring a smooth knowledge transfer, and setting up proper communication channels between the internal and external teams for a seamless transition.

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Ross Kurhanskyi
Head of partner engagement