Preserving your organization’s information security can be like playing a game of chess with an opponent that gets smarter with every move. If you want to win, you need to stay one step ahead of your opponent. You need to know what to expect. You need to predict what their next move could be. The only difference is that the stakes are much higher here. One misstep or one momentary lapse in attention can cost you the whole game. And if you lose here, you may lose your entire business.
It’s a typical good-news-bad-news scenario. The good news is that with effective Continuous Security Monitoring (CSM), you can constantly monitor the threat landscape and prevent your data and systems from being exposed. The bad news, unfortunately, is that no matter how sophisticated your monitoring tools, systems, and processes are, the task won’t be easy since the nature of threats is constantly evolving, sometimes even faster than your ability to mitigate those threats. This is why CSM is even more crucial for your organization than it seems at first glance. But, before we proceed further, let us first examine how CSM can be defined and what some of its key components are.
What is CSM?
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines continuous security monitoring as “maintaining ongoing awareness of information security, vulnerabilities, and threats to support organizational risk management decisions.”
In simple terms, we may describe it as the uninterrupted monitoring of critical organizational assets, such as devices on your network, to detect and mitigate potential threats in real time. In even simpler terms, it means that you need to be focussed on Detection controls, instead of just preventative controls. You need to go out there to look for the threats rather than wait for the threats to come seeking you.
However, many organizations don’t realize that. And when they do, it’s usually too late. Many organizations turn to continuous security monitoring and a variety of other measures, such as tightening their compliance processes, after experiencing a major attack on their information system. The CSM process is specifically designed to prevent just that.
The key to understanding CSM lies in the term itself. It involves a Continuous stream of never-ending practices, designed to enhance Security involving constant Monitoring. You need to dedicate resources or staff to perform real-time inspections of not just the devices and the network, but also the implementation of the existing compliance processes to ensure maximum protection.
The Role of MSSPs
If you are aiming to run a successful business by cutting down on savings, increase profitability, and outrun your competition, all the while trying to survive in an increasingly dire economic situation, you may already have a lot on your plate. And we haven’t even begun to discuss how to ensure the highest levels of cyber security possible. It’s now understandable why companies choose to seek external services.
But if you are still unsure how exactly an MSSP can add value to your organization, here’s the answer:
Cyber threat intelligence
If there’s one thing that can be claimed with certainty about the cyber landscape, it’s that everyone’s at risk. Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) repeatedly notes, “We don’t see any industries flying completely under the radar… everyone is vulnerable to some type of event.” And a lot of companies, irrespective of their size and the nature of the business, seek the services of some of the leading MSSPs. Consequently, these security service providers have access to, and experience in monitoring a large number of networks on a 24/7 basis.
This enables the MSSPs to gather threat intelligence from a variety of sources on a huge scale. Their knowledge base, particularly on threats & potential vulnerabilities, is significantly vast. Maintaining that knowledge base is critical to navigating the cyber landscape and staying up-to-date with the nature of the threats. No other business organization, including large corporations, can dedicate that many resources to cyber intelligence gathering. Consequently, MSSPs can be an excellent value add for your business.
When it comes to CSM, the decision doesn’t hinge upon whether it’s important or not. Rather, you are required to choose whether to “build or buy.” Do you have enough resources to buy new tools, formulate new processes, and bolster the capabilities of your IT team? And, more importantly, would doing all that yield significantly better results than its alternative? This is where MSSPs step in.
Many managed security services providers have the requisite tools and capabilities to effectively monitor your network for threats. They also have a dedicated team of professional security experts and analysts. But, to top it all off, their services are affordable. Depending on the specific requirements of your organization, seeking assistance from a managed security services provider can be quite cost-effective.
MSSPs are better prepared to deal with organizations of all sizes. The scalability of the monitoring processes is one more thing you can tick off your worry list.