Why Cybersecurity Outsourcing Continues to Grow
After a bumper crop of cyber incidents last year, 2021 is seeing more small businesses turn to outsourced providers for security services than ever. 2020 saw a 20% growth in hacking attempts faced by U.K. businesses, made worse by an increase in attack complexity. Microsoft recently reported how multi-stage credential phishing and ransomware methods became the most popular attack technique in 2020. Businesses must take action, but a global shortage of cybersecurity resources means tough choices.
To solve this problem, firms have turned to Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to protect their infrastructure and sensitive data. Specialists can give round-the-clock protection to a standard that can’t be replicated in-house and Skurio’s research found that more than half of all organisations now outsource their cybersecurity in this way.
A Complex Challenge
Managing cybersecurity at scale is demanding. Modern IT ecosystems provide multiple attack paths for cybercriminals to exploit. From an unpatched application to a user with poor password management, just one gap is enough to allow a serious attack. Good software patching and password hygiene can mitigate some cyber risks but changing techniques require specialist skills.
The COVID pandemic provided new opportunities to cybercriminals. The NCSC revealed that a third of the incidents it handled in 2020 were related to the coronavirus. Criminals exploited the widespread disruption and preyed on individuals’ fears, frequently using COVID-related topics used as a smokescreen for phishing.
In the most extreme example, criminals impersonated a BioNTech executive, appearing to offer early access for ordering vaccine and test kits. The elaborate business email compromise attack replicated company branding and even included a photo and signature of the individual.
Wider use of VPN technology to support remote working, prompted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to issue vulnerability warnings for two major suppliers and predict that unpatched VPNs would become the top exploitable security flaw in 2020. Further bad news for VPN users has emerged this year with three popular Android based VPNs allegedly suffering data breaches.
The Talent Drought
The growing demand for cybersecurity personnel has produced a global shortage of qualified practitioners, with an estimated four million cybersecurity roles unfilled globally. Recruiting experienced security personnel is difficult and beyond the financial reach of many businesses, especially as cybersecurity teams must be on-call to deal with attacks at any time. Finding extra resources to train and develop internal teams can leave security leaders fighting an uphill battle to retain the best talent.
For smaller firms, in-house IT personnel are often expected to be jacks of all trades and this includes managing information security in addition to operational tasks. But, in reality, even the most experienced and resourceful IT team can struggle to cope with the threats they’re faced with and can lack the necessary tools to see the big picture or implement strategic planning.
A Safe Pair of Hands
If outsourcing IT security is a cost-effective way to harness cyber expertise, there are other benefits too. When these responsibilities are outsourced to specialist Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs), businesses gain assurance through contracted service level agreements (SLAs). Having metrics and specific results to deliver against also helps secure the confidence of the board and other stakeholders.
MSSPs have the first-hand experience of dealing with the latest threats as criminals continue to discover new ways to monetise cybercrime, so businesses can consider them a trusted advisor. Indeed, MSPs that traditionally focus purely on business IT and communications provision are now extending their portfolios to embrace the latest cybersecurity tools and services to meet the demand the Skurio research detected.
Planning for Future Risks
Digital Risk Protection (DRP) has emerged as one of the most useful services in this regard, constantly monitoring sites, forums, paste bins, and messaging platforms for insight on trends and potential threats, including Dark Web markets where data and exploit details are shared or traded. Alongside protecting against future attacks, this approach plays a crucial role in detecting previous breaches, an important risk factor.
Once a dataset has surfaced, it seldom gets forgotten as compilation breaches continue to be a popular attack vector in brute-force and phishing attacks. Identifying stolen assets posted outside the network can provide a huge advantage in mitigating the reputational and regulatory impact of a breach. Ninety-three percent of IT decision-makers in our research believed external threat monitoring through DRP improves customer trust and loyalty.
DRP solutions can also alert companies if new typosquatting domains are registered. Email phishing scams typically rely on diverting unsuspecting people to sites which seem legitimate, where the domain impersonates a site which is of interest to the victim. They are often visited by people who have mistyped the genuine domain URL hence the label: typosquatting.
Researching potential threats and breaches on the surface, deep and Dark Web is difficult, time-consuming, and potentially dangerous for an amateur. Eighty percent of respondents in our study said they lack the required skills or knowledge to carry out this type of research. MSPs are, therefore, well-positioned to provide breach detection and threat monitoring services through automated Digital Risk Protection as well as value-added services such as advice, investigation and takedowns.
The time has come for in-house IT teams to take stock, evaluate their risks and set out a plan to mitigate them. Without access to specialists that can proactively identify and respond to these risks, businesses will be blind to any threats until it is too late. Outsourcing to specialist security service providers is the safest and fastest way to do this.