What To Look For In Managed IT Security Service Providers (MSSPs)
When IT, network or computer security services are outsourced to a service provider, they are called Managed Security Services and the providers are referred to as MSSPs or Managed Security Service Providers. Businesses look to outsource management of IT security so they can focus on their core business. As security threats and their counter-measures constantly evolve along with our access to data, this chess match between security teams and bad actors needs to evolve as well. That is where a dedicated outsourced security team provides peace of mind for most businesses. It’s no different than the blacksmith becoming good at her trade because, through experience, she knows at exactly which temperature a metal becomes malleable vs weldable and how the rate of cooling determines the hardness of the end product. Sure anyone could heat some metal and pound it into a shape but only the experienced smith knows if the end result will stand the test of time. The same is true with MSSPs. A dedicated security provider lives and breathes the current landscape of security threats and their solutions. Anyone can install a firewall but will it stand the test of time and is it the right solution?
After a business has grown and decided to place the security of their data into the hands of professionals, they must consider what to look for in choosing an MSSP.
1. Experience in your industry
The type of industry your business is in will often influence the types of threats you need to protect against along with the sophistication level and determination of those threats. Thousands of credit card numbers or trade secrets are often worth more effort by the bad actor than pictures of your kids playing baseball. However, data isn’t always the target. If your industry requires or is known for managing high-end server hardware with significant bandwidth, your network can become a target simply because of the resources it makes available. Choose an MSSP that knows your industry and the threats that come with the territory.
2. Experience in your environment
Does your business rely on multiple locations, VPNs, WAAN, WiFi, or a bring your own device (BYOD) environment? Your device policy along with your broader network configuration should also help narrow the field when choosing an MSSP. Again the right vendor should have ample experience locking down similar environments while also staying on top of new vulnerabilities based on the intricacies of your work environment.
3. Industry-leading vendor partners
Equally important as the experience level of the MSSP in your environment and industry is the pedigree of the hardware manufacturers with whom they partner. Do they bring award-winning security solution providers who specialize in SMB and enterprise-grade protection as a core component to their offering? Do the hardware manufacturers place an emphasis on training and thought leadership within the IT security discipline? Are they fast to issue patches and how is their record of providing future-proof solutions?
4. Focus within security
And finally, does the MSSP place an emphasis on security? How quickly in the conversation is security presented in your discussions? For many managed service providers, security can easily be reduced in a proposal to stay within budget. The MSSP you select should be more concerned about security than you are and they should refuse to push it aside leaving your data at risk — that’s why you hire them. Look for an MSSP that discusses security with you early and often.
Finding the right MSSP means bringing the management of your network and hardware together under one experienced team. And when the MSSP is supported by the right manufacturer, the end result is best in class security for your business.