Effective cybersecurity is an accumulation of many small actions performed properly. When you apply chaos theory, beneficial impacts can be traced back to small changes to the initial state, but too often I see organizations making big investments in cybersecurity solutions without proper consideration of the problem that needs to be solved. These organizations feel peace of mind because they’re spending large sums to mitigate cybersecurity risk, and they believe that more money spent equates to greater protection.
Sadly, they’re wrong. Just investing in something isn’t enough, there is a more nuanced equation. The right dollars, applied to the right problem, with the right supporting expertise, is the formula for mitigating cybersecurity risk.
People ask me all the time, “What's the right thing to spend on?” My answer is that the choice must be driven by business needs. By knowing the risks that need mitigation, including their impact and urgency, it comes down to what makes fiscal sense for balancing internal efforts, outsourced programs, and successful automation.
Appropriate cybersecurity tooling provides visibility into your cybersecurity posture, identifying risks and suggesting protections that can ideally be automated. Unfortunately, organizations frequently struggle to build and maintain their internal stock of cybersecurity expertise. Few things are more chaotic and unpredictable than human behavior, and personnel changes complicate organizational ability to compensate for the constantly shifting threat landscape. To eliminate this particular variety of unexpected change, I see organizations looking to an established cybersecurity partner. They do so in order to eliminate the impacts of individual employee choices, investing, instead in the outcomes that they require.
These partnerships vary in scope and scale, with the most popular providers delivering managed security services (MSSPs) and managed detection and response (MDR). An MSSP or MDR provider improves an organization's cybersecurity posture for several reasons:
1. Expertise. A great MSSP will have a team of experienced professionals well-versed in the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices. By partnering with an MSSP, an organization can access consistent professional expertise to protect their systems and data.
2. Resources. A great MSSP will have the requisite resources to effectively detect threats and deliver incident response capabilities in order to mitigate the impact of cyberattacks.
3. Cost optimization. Outsourcing security functions to an MSSP is usually more cost-effective than building and maintaining a fully capable in-house security team through the natural economies of scale recognized by a central service provider. This allows an organization to allocate resources more strategically to focus on its core competencies.
4. Risk reduction. By partnering with a great MSSP, an organization can reduce the risk and increase awareness of cyberattacks and their potential consequences. The visibility of a provider to the threats and intelligence of multiple clients gives a broader vantage than can any individual organization, and this helps to protect both assets and reputation, maintaining customer trust.
Cybersecurity patterns can be recognized as evidence of the broad applicability of chaos theory. Just as small changes to initial conditions can lead to significantly different outcomes in chaotic systems, small vulnerabilities or misconfigurations in a cybersecurity context can have significant consequences if exploited by attackers. Keep in mind that small efforts to improve cybersecurity posture may be the difference between a close call and a security incident.
If you are looking to improve and are considering partnering with an MSSP or MDR provider, please check us out. Even if you aren't in the market for a cybersecurity partner, keep up the good work and never discount the potential upsides of small efforts to improve your cybersecurity posture.
Let’s keep working together to make cybersecurity easier.
Justin (he/him) is the founder and CEO of NuHarbor Security, where he continues to advance modern integrated cybersecurity services. He has over 20 years of cybersecurity experience, much of it earned while leading security efforts for multinational corporations, most recently serving as global CISO at Keurig Green Mountain Coffee. Justin serves multiple local organizations in the public interest, including his board membership at Champlain College.