Cybersecurity Outsourcing: Unnecessary Cost or Clever Investment?

The last 14 months have only reiterated that cybersecurity is not an issue we can ignore, and given that it is ever evolving, is certainly not an area that businesses can afford to scrimp on. Cybercrime has not disappeared in this time of adversity, instead hackers are thriving off the dispersed workforce, over-complex networks and increased vulnerabilities caused by the rise in personal and unsecured end-devices being used for work. A Zero Trust survey carried out by Gigamon found that 84% of EMEA businesses have seen a rise in cybercrime over the last year, with 41% of UK respondents claiming that they have mainly been subject to an increase in phishing schemes. Furthermore, the potential consequences of cybercrime are becoming increasingly severe, for example the string of attacks against bodies involved with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, including pharmaceutical companies, the cold storage supply chain transporting the vaccine and the European Medicines Agency.

The current climate has therefore resulted in many business leaders acknowledging the need to shift their cyber strategy in order to stay secure. According to a report from PwC, 50% of UK companies agree that cybersecurity must now be baked into every business decision. Yet for many industries, finding the expertise needed to keep a business protected against constantly evolving threats is not easy.

An Extension to the Team to Address the Skills Gap

As cybercrime becomes ever more complex and sophisticated, it is impossible for in-house SecOps teams to harness a high enough level of expertise to sufficiently shore up their company’s defenses; while the cyber-skills gap is shrinking, employment in this field still needs to grow by 89% globally. SecOps teams need an extremely high level of expertise and resource to secure a business from phishing, malware, ransomware, hacking, DDoS attacks and the various IT vulnerabilities that continue to emerge. Employing individuals with this depth of knowledge in-house is simply not achievable given the skills gap, and the resources that are available have been forced to mix and match roles to support the remote work environment driven by the pandemic. Therefore, outsourcing cybersecurity not only seems like a smart decision for businesses, but it may also become an essential consideration in an environment lacking cyber-skills, but saturated with cybercrime.

Moving from Reactive Response to Proactive Mitigation

Outsourcing cybersecurity not only addresses any resource management issues but transforms your security strategy from reactive response to proactive mitigation. Hammersmith Medicines Research (HMR) fell victim to a high-profile security breach by MAZE group at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, incentivizing them to outsource their cybersecurity solutions. After extensive penetration testing and threat analysis, HMR made the decision to implement a dedicated SOC – an outsourced solution that constantly monitors activity on their network, identifies vulnerabilities in real time and works to proactively improve security. While these measurements were initially a reactive response to a cyberattack, their infrastructure is now better protected long term against future attacks, while MTTD is reduced significantly and risks can be mitigated before they become serious problems.

Balancing Benefit Versus Cost

As social distancing restrictions ease and the economy enters its recovery phase, the board of any organization faces tough decisions about what disciplines and technology to invest in that will see a tangible return for their business. But when it comes to cybersecurity, the question must be can you afford not to invest when it comes to safeguarding your organization? The cost of investing into cybersecurity is far less than the cost of a security data breach. For example, the average cost of a breach to a UK organization is between £600K-£1.15m, not to mention the significant cost to a business from any reputational damage. Additionally, many organizations would simply not survive a security breach after the financial struggles from the last 12 months.

So, if a 24/7 SOC is the ideal cyber-solution, why are businesses not implementing them internally? The simple answer is that an in-house SOC will put a company back £500,000 on average, and even then it is unlikely to be monitored around the clock, which is when mistakes creep in and hackers take advantage. If this service is outsourced, with experts tracking any suspicious activity even while an organization sleeps, it becomes a much cheaper and more effective defense solution for businesses.

What’s more, investing in an external SOC will ultimately reap benefits for an organization’s internal NetOps and SecOps teams. Rather than consistently overstretched and overworked IT teams juggling digital transformation initiatives and cybersecurity monitoring, these professionals can be freed of the need to protect and monitor their networks. Instead, outsourced cybersecurity teams will take responsibility for threat detection, enabling those within the organization to upskill and push forward with improving internal processes and growing business capabilities.

Cyber-criminals are unfortunately only becoming more sophisticated. According to Deloitte, attackers are using COVID-19 as bait to impersonate a number of different companies and misleading employees, which is ultimately resulting in more infected devices and opportunities to spread ransomware. Therefore, it is imperative that organizations prioritize their digital defense strategy. By outsourcing their security to experts, business leaders may finally gain much needed confidence that their networks are protected.  

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