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effective scoping to avoid costly supplier pitfalls

by Helen J. Wolf
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Cybercrime is among the most ubiquitous and destructive business threats, costing billions annually. Organizations can never be completely secure, but they don’t have to fear the safe use of digital systems either constantly. Companies can determine an optimal security foundation by instilling a strong cyber awareness culture, implementing industry best practices, and leveraging content expertise to structure and protect systems.

effective scoping to avoid costly supplier pitfalls

Managed security services are outsourced services focused on the security and resilience of corporate networks. Organizations engage partners to monitor and respond to security incidents and provide cybersecurity controls and expertise for complex business environments. The service complements internal security measures and adds redundancy and a safety net of industry experience that improves an organization’s risk exposure by sharing knowledge and accountability.

Choosing the right Managed Security Services (MSSP) partner and effectively framing the project are two essential elements to get a strong return on investment in this relationship.

Entry-level managed security services include 24-hour firewall monitoring, antivirus, and malware protection. Companies operating in industries with specific regulatory requirements can add penetration testing and disaster recovery exercises to meet stricter security benchmarks. Larger enterprises and government organizations can engage multiple MSSPs to provide additional fencing, load balancing, and tailor-made resources based on unique needs.

There are four elements that organizations need to understand to determine their needs accurately:

1. Exposure to cyber risks. This will determine which layer of managed services is needed for more secure operations.

2. Valuable data. It is important to identify the sensitive data that could lead to financial and reputational damage in a data breach.

3. Systems. The company can determine the immediate needs by understanding which systems are vulnerable to common attacks and where gaps in expertise or technology exist.

4. Assets. It is important to mIt is important to monitor assets, including physical, logical, and environmental components such as networks, computers, virtual devices, data centers, and other IT systems.

Scope creep is too common, usually when there is a lack of clear communication between organizations and MSSPs. Organizations must draw up an explicit scope statement from the outset to prevent this. Thoroughly documenting and communicating an organization’s security requirements before even calling an MSSP is essential for coverage and cost-effectiveness.

Both parties must be on the same page from the get-go, with expectations cemented in service-level agreements and a constant feedback mechanism closing the loop around iterative project work. Projects can easily become more expensive and time-consuming than anticipated when fully reactive, at the expense of productivity and confidence.

The best way to avoid scope creep with a managed service provider is to put effort into the planning process before work begins. With cybersecurity, in particular, every minute spent planning before deploying to a production environment is worth an hour later. Before engaging a managed security services provider, the evaluation process should consider this comprehensive list of requirements.

Once agreements are made, proposed security services can be defined and structured with that holistic view of the landscape, avoiding the time and cost burdens that inevitably result from rushing the all-important scoping process.

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