To outsource or not to outsource – how to know if you need Managed Security Services

When comes to IT security, very few organisations have the luxury of being able to have it all. The reality for most is careful prioritisation of security needs, coupled with strategic technology investments to deliver the highest levels of security for the budget available.

But this is rarely a straightforward exercise. With so many different areas competing for attention, Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) are often faced with some difficult decisions. For instance, advanced threat protection is currently high on many agendas due to the spate of recent high profile cyber breaches, but application security and testing is a regulatory requirement and therefore, non-negotiable for many. BYOD proliferation adds new attack vectors for cyber criminals, but data loss prevention is always a top concern so it must be accounted for too… as you can see, it quickly adds up.

> See also: 6 things to look for in a Managed Security Services Provider

With the modern threat environment growing all the time and resources at a stretch, CISOs are naturally exploring all options that would allow them to achieve their security goals within the budget available.

One increasingly viable option is to outsource security either in part, or in its entirety. By deploying security software as a managed service, organisations can benefit from specialist security knowledge, whilst handing off all issues associated with the deployment, management and monitoring of applications to a trusted third party.

This practice can accelerate return on security investments, improve security, and reduce overhead and capital budgets all at the same time. Whilst the concept of Security-as-a-Service is not a new one, the types of service available and the increasingly favourable protection-to-cost ratio is making it an increasingly attractive proposition.

In-house deployment vs. managed security services

Just like anything, managed services solutions are not the right fit for every organisation. But for many, they can deliver an enterprise grade security solution for just a fraction of the investment required to deploy the same solution on site. Below are some of the key benefits that a managed solution can bring.

Access to the security experts

The scarcest resource, even for those with larger budgets, is often skilled security practitioners. These are the people who deploy, manage, and monitor security activities, and respond to incidents to minimise damage. Data security professionals are in high demand across every industry, making them a rare (and often expensive) commodity.

But working with a managed services provider will give organisations access to their expertise as part of the service. This can be a major advantage, particularly for organisations with lower budgets that cannot afford their own in house experts.

Flexible deployment options

For some companies, concern for the sensitivity of security reporting data requires that the infrastructure used must remain on-premise. If running the software in-house is impractical but outsourcing the responsibility is undesirable, a hybrid model is emerging: on-premise hosting of managed security services. In this model, the vendor supplies and manages the software used in the managed security program, while the customer manages the infrastructure in its own IT environment.

All data and results remain with the customer, while program management responsibilities remain with the managed security service provider. This allows organisations with IT bandwidth to securely outsource security operations to managed security providers. Up front capital expenses are minimised, and concerns about any type of data leaving the premises are eliminated.

Faster time to value

We all want to benefit from the value of new purchases quickly. However, deploying new software solutions in-house is not always simple. Internal personnel need to learn how to operate new software and train other users. Inevitably, deployments include unexpected delays due to the organisation’s lack of familiarity with the tools.

> See also: The new breed of internet service provider: frontline of cyber security

Using a managed security service provider can eliminate much of the set-up time and costs associated with this. Infrastructure changes are eliminated, and product experts take responsibility for installation, training, and rollout to all relevant employees, which results in faster implementation time and faster time to value. 

Getting started

Using a managed security service provider requires careful consideration, and the 'right' answer will vary by organisation. For organisations with available bandwidth and resources, or with extensive infrastructure already in place, an on-premise deployment probably still makes the most sense.

On the other hand, if faster value, lower IT overhead, and additional security expertise are part of your needs, a managed service (or hybrid managed services) offering could well be the most effective way to go.

Sourced from Mark Stevens, VP, Global services & support, Digital Guardian

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...