Can an outsourced security assessment offer clear advantages to vulnerability remediation?

There is no doubt that cybersecurity concerns are one of the most important threats facing organizations throughout the world.

Any company that has any reliance on computer systems is a potential target. The proliferation of reported ransomware attacks and data breaches demonstrates that this is a clear and present danger.

Addressing security concerns in a fast-moving, ever-changing security landscape is a difficult challenge. Many companies struggle to visualize what the required security needs are, especially if tied down by compliance regulations.

As a result, many businesses are choosing to outsource this responsibility to a third-party managed security service provider (MSSP). We will discuss the advantages of this approach, focusing specifically on how it influences the remediation of security issues.

What is a security risk assessment?

The first task to complete after outsourcing to an MSSP is to conduct a detailed security risk assessment. This is a top-to-bottom review of the operations, systems, protocols, and processes used in-house. It is a review of all technical, physical and administrative processes concerning cybersecurity that aims to identify, assess, mitigate and prevent existing and future risk.

Consultants evaluate the current security landscape, with a goal set to identify the cybersecurity flaws and weaknesses of the business. Outsourcing provides a non-biased, independent appraisal of the organization’s security posture.

The analysis is performed via an exposure assessment. This is a technical evaluation of all public-facing computer systems to identify risk. Security scans assess the exposure of existing domains and email addresses and scans for known compromised usernames and passwords affiliated with the organization.

The threat analysis will uncover what infrastructure services are at risk of known vulnerabilities and exploits. The data is used to draw up a plan to mitigate and prevent future exposure.

What is a security roadmap?

A security roadmap is created using information gathered from the security risk assessment. The risk assessment determines the security weaknesses and vulnerabilities. The roadmap is the list of actionable objectives requiring completion, and importantly, it demonstrates how the organization achieves these goals. 

A roadmap may take weeks, months or years to complete, but after completion, the security landscape is significantly improved and ready to be reviewed again. Management teams often use the roadmap to create robust security policies and influence the future IT business strategy.

Using the roadmap to fix security gaps and plan for remediation activities will help to create an infrastructure tailored to your organization’s needs and goals.

An example roadmap activity will prioritize the critical concerns uncovered; this may include a review of access control lists, user accounts, elevated user permissions or user etiquette on computer systems. An example of action may be the implementation of multi-factor authentication to reduce risk.

What are the remediation activities?

The corrective actions identified in the roadmap help businesses plan for the unexpected. Remediation is an ongoing initiative that dictates how to monitor and detect cybersecurity risks, as well as incident response planning for how to handle a cybersecurity attack should the worst happen.

Remediation also determines if the existing and proposed security solutions are capable of repelling cyberattacks. Security Engineers conduct internal and external vulnerability scans using specialist software that detects holes and exploits in operating systems, hardware microcode and applications. 

From the scan results, a plan can be drawn up to harden the infrastructure, determine where sensitive data is stored, what encryption methods are needed, and how to recover services in a disaster recovery situation.

Security teams will work with other third-party vendors and contractors to review how the business interacts with external providers and introduce audit tracking and detailed reporting on an internal and external system. This includes technical audits and reporting.

The remediation activities allow you to measure the success of newly introduced security processes, track the progress and the technology upgrades and plan future activities. New processes are reviewed regularly and updated to ensure the new IT security policies work. 

What are the advantages of this approach to cybersecurity?

There are many distinct advantages to outsourcing cybersecurity. It instantly provides a team of dedicated security experts, 24/7 support and the ability to bridge the skills gap of your employees. This greatly reduces the risk of harm to business operations and business reputation in the short and long term.

Outsourcing helps to enforce the ethos that security is an organizational goal instead of solely a departmental aspiration. The ability to educate and train company employees about the latest threats in cybersecurity helps to close potentially significant weaknesses in-house.

MSSPs typically manage multiple organizations from various industries. This can greatly benefit your business as it enables access to institutional knowledge and experience to advise upon suitable security policy. 

Outsourcing will save your business a significant amount of time from firefighting security weaknesses. Cybersecurity requires extensive monitoring and logging to build awareness of new and existing threats. An outsourced partner takes this burden away from internal IT teams. It helps to promote a proactive approach to security, reduces the risk of making mistakes and is likely to increase business reputation.

About the Author

Christopher Gerg is the CISO and Vice President of Cyber Risk Management at Tetra Defense. He’s a technical lead with over 20 years of information security experience. Find out more

Featured image: ©Denisismagilov