How to choose the right outsourced cybersecurity partner?

With cyberattacks, ransomware and phishing cases on the rise in 2021, it’s more important than ever to have effective security and risk management in place to protect your IT assets. When it comes to cybersecurity, companies tend to have these top three concerns: loss of data, revenue, and reputation. 

With so much at stake, finding the right outsourced cybersecurity partner can feel overwhelming. Especially, when trying to decide whether to delegate (or depend on) an in-house IT Services team or to outsource with a managed services provider.  

These days, more and more small to medium-sized companies are outsourcing their cybersecurity needs for a variety of reasons. The largest factor being price. Whereas managing an in-house cybersecurity team can be cost prohibitive for most companies, outsourcing remains an affordable and effective alternative. 

But with all the options out there, it can hard to know how to look for and vet the right IT Services partner. 

Here are the seven most crucial factors to consider when looking for an outsourced partner: 

  1. What is the managed IT Services partner’s brand? Who are they really?

The number one factor that influenced purchasing cybersecurity products was brand reputation (41%). This outweighs other variables including cost, expertise, and even third-party referrals, according to a survey of 230 corporate IT professionals. 

A brand reputation is more than how good their website and social media looks or how cute their dog mascot is. A reputation is built on the experiences of their clients. That’s why it’s vital to look at a provider’s “social proof,” which includes client testimonials and case studies.  

Watch any videos and webinars they have on YouTube. Are these videos informative? Did you learn something? Do they come across as knowledgeable and trustworthy? 

Also, ask around at your peer groups and look at journals and industry specific news sources for any mention of the providers you’re researching. Does the IT Services partner walk their talk? Are they the same in person as they appear online? This consistency is crucial to gauging what type of IT partner they’ll be.  

  1. What type of outsourced cybersecurity providers do you need most?

     

When it comes to cybersecurity, there are a few options to choose from.  

  1. Managed IT Services provider (MSP) – delivers comprehensive IT Services including network, application, infrastructure, and security. They offer helpdesk support, offer data center options and virtual CIO advisory services.  
  1. Managed security service provider (MSSP)- Is an IT service provider that provides cybersecurity monitoring and management, such as virus and spam blocking, virtual private network management, firewalls, vulnerability scanning and intrusion detection. They tend to have advanced training in cybersecurity measures.  

In the past, MSPs tended to focus primarily on usability and performance whereas MSSP focused on security. HOWEVER, MSPs have always offered cybersecurity measures and are continuously adding to their arsenal of cybersecurity tools and techniques. When it comes to security nowadays, MSPs concentrate on the entire spectrum of vulnerability, from perimeter, to internal, from sophisticated machine correlation to human error and education. In addition, some MSPs have partnerships with MSSPs to consult with on advanced, complex cybersecurity issues. Given these changes in the MSP industry, they remain the best choice for outsourced IT Services.  

  1. Does the MSP understand your industry and the common IT issues that affect your business?

     

Most industries rely on specific types of line-of-business (LOB) applications that are the heart of their operations. If anything happens to their DMS, EMR, CRM, etc., their business could be dealt a devastating blow. It is crucial that any MSP understands the idiosyncrasies of your particular LOB to ensure optimum performance.  

In addition, if your MSP knows your industry, they’ll have a deep understanding of your workflow and how to leverage technology to drive operational efficiency and security awareness. It’s essential they recognize the priorities for system lockdown and incident response. That way they can adapt new measures into your long-term technology plan and spending. All of which will increase productivity and more than likely, your profitability.  

Lastly, they’ll understand the cybersecurity risks that most plague your industry and can address these swiftly and securely.  

  1. What are your goals in hiring an MSP?

     

When beginning any conversations with a new MSP, it’s important to have a clear idea of your business objectives. Any worthwhile MSP will include virtual CIO advisory services in their managed IT Services plan. This type of advising and consulting ensures that all components of your technology are viewed as an integrated whole. This “whole” view, then enables the MSP to best align and leverage your IT to drive your business goals.  

In addition, the right MSP will meet with you regularly to evaluate and discuss your technology. This accomplishes a few objectives. First, it gives you an ongoing pulse of your IT’s performance and security. Secondly, it’ll help survey the horizon for any issues that might be arising (think new ransomware or phishing email tactics) so that preventative actions can be put in place.  

  1. Which cybersecurity measures do you need the most?

     

This will change from business to business. The best way to uncover this is to sign up for a comprehensive IT assessment or at least a cybersecurity specific assessment with a reputable MSP. Since cybersecurity interacts with so many different components of your IT infrastructure and systems, the comprehensive assessment will get you more bang for your buck.   

Once you’ve completed the IT assessment, the MSP will review and analyze the data and prepare a “findings” type report and present it to you.  

Part of this report will include recommendations to improve your IT performance and security.  

When it comes to cybersecurity, here are some of the tools and techniques that could be recommended for your company:  

  • Virtual Private Network (VPN) 
  • Data Storage 
  • Firewalls 
  • Website Protection 
  • Ransomware Defense 
  • Malware Defense 
  • Password Management 
  • Application Security 
  • Endpoint Security 
  • Network Security 
  • Identity and access management  
  • Data Leak/Loss Prevention  
  • SEIM  
  • Endpoint Detection and Response 
  • Outsourced SOC  
  • Security Awareness Training  
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery  
  • Multi Factor Authentication 
  1. Is the MSP current with the latest trends, threats, and technology?

     

It is important for your outsourced cybersecurity partner to be in tune with what current technology issues and tools. For example, when it comes to cybersecurity, new ransomware strains are being constantly created and new vulnerabilities and risks discovered.  

Also, it’s important that your MSP is continuing to invest in their team’s knowledge and expertise as well as new technological advancements to keep your company safe.  

Lastly, looking for an IT Services partner can feel intimidating. However, follow the guidelines above and chances are you’ll find the right fit for your company.  

If you are looking for more information on working with an outsourced cybersecurity professional, click here.