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December 2, 2022

Managed cyber security: what it is and 4 signs you need it

By Ben Filipkowski

With contributions from Katie Yahnke and Eric McDonald.

For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), managed cyber security delivers a much-needed helping hand. With cyber threats evolving at a rapid pace, it’s a challenge for businesses of all sizes, let alone SMBs, to stay ahead of attackers. Because SMB owners and staff are frequently left wearing multiple hats and managing multiple responsibilities, there aren’t enough resources or hours left in the day to tackle security operations.

That’s where managed cyber security comes in. By partnering with the right security vendor, managed service provider (MSP), or managed security service provider (MSSP), businesses can access managed cyber services backed by top-tier security technology and talent.

By packaging the tools, technology, and expertise needed to defend against cyber threats together into a professional service, managed cyber security can give SMBs access to effective protection—at a fraction of the cost of doing it themselves.

Here’s what SMB owners, operators, and IT professionals need to know about managed cyber security.

How managed cyber security works

Just like the name suggests, managed cyber security gives businesses a means of outsourcing some or all elements of their security operations. Broadly, there are two approaches to managed cyber security services:

  • Fully managed services are most often delivered by an MSP or MSSP. These organizations operate the cyber security tech stack, responding to cyber threats and reporting back to their clients as needed. Fully managed cyber security services are a great fit for businesses that lack the internal resources or budget needed for effective security.
  • Co-managed services augment existing security resources, enabling the 24/7 operations businesses need. MSPs or MSSPs use existing technology, sometimes introducing new technology, to help businesses scale their security operations effectively. Co-managed services still include some in-house security operations, but the heavy lifting is done by an external team and are a great option for organizations looking to close skill gaps or ensure consistent round-the-clock coverage.

Both options can give businesses access to the security expertise they need to implement effective defences. As mentioned above, providers are often able to package a wider array of security tools together to meet a customer’s needs, combining some type of detection and response tool with anti-ransomware technology, cloud security tools, and sophisticated firewalls.

Key benefits of managed cyber security

Investing in a managed security service offers SMBs a range of benefits. Beyond the immediate concern of reliable cyber defences, a managed cyber security service can help businesses overcome the cyber security talent gap, implement ongoing employee training and awareness initiatives, and spend more time on what matters to them.

Here are a few common benefits to outsourced cyber security:

Access to security expertise

Finding, hiring, and retaining cyber security talent remains a major challenge for businesses of all sizes, including large enterprises. It’s time-consuming, stressful, and expensive; there’s such a demand for security talent that hiring from the limited supply of professionals simply isn’t possible for most organizations. Managed cyber security services can give businesses of all sizes a way to access the security expertise they need without breaking their budget.

Always-on threat monitoring and detection

Closely related to the need for security expertise, businesses in every sector need dependable 24/7 threat monitoring and detection. Many managed security services deliver this technology paired with expert analysis, which give businesses greater insight into their threat surface and the steps they can take to resolve vulnerabilities and cyber risks.

Scalable cyber security solutions

One of the biggest advantages offered by managed cyber security is the opportunity it can provide growing businesses. Many of these services are designed with SMBs in mind; they recognize that smaller businesses need additional support. They also understand that an organization’s needs shift as they grow, which is reflected in how they scale services and prices to meet changing requirements. Put simply, there’s no need to buy a larger bundle of licenses than your business needs in the hopes that you’ll grow into it.

More time to focus on your business

Managed cyber security takes a significant amount of work off the shoulders of internal resources, in turn allowing staff to spend more time on other projects that drive revenue or innovation. Because someone else is doing all (or most of) the heavy lifting on your behalf, and only surfacing the threats that matter to you, your team can spend more time focused on business matters.

Four signs you need managed cyber security

By this point, you may be wondering if managed cyber security is the right fit for your business. If you’re still on the fence, though, there are four clear signs that you need to start thinking about outsourcing your cyber security.

1.     You’re concerned about the cost of cyber security

Effective cyber security often comes at a premium. Most security solutions that offer the comprehensive coverage necessary for a strong defence are built for large enterprises, not SMBs. As a result, many SMBs are stuck using a complex patchwork of tools and technology that don’t stack up the way they should for smaller businesses. SMBs looking for strong protection without an enterprise-sized price tag should consider managed cyber security from a trusted MSP or MSSP.

2.     You serve a high-risk industry

Every sector faces rising cyber threats, but the financial, health, legal, and educational sectors in particular are all major targets these days. Businesses that operate in high-risk or heavily regulated industries have a greater need for efficient defences and may also need additional support navigating complex compliance requirements. Managed cyber security gives them a means of accessing the protection and guidance they need quickly and easily, letting them focus on their important work.

3.     You have a remote or hybrid workforce

In a post-lockdown world, many companies have opted for fully remote or hybrid workforces. While these approaches offer a range of benefits, they also come with new risks that businesses need to consider. These new risks introduce additional layers of complexity, and it takes time and technical knowledge to properly mitigate them. Cyber threats surged in 2020, with many attackers taking advantage of unsecure personal devices in home offices to stage devastating attacks. If your business has some element of remote work—whether you’ve adopted a virtual-first approach to save on office space costs or have a hybrid model with staff in-office and remote—it may be time to consider managed cyber security to defend your distributed workforce and the technology they use.

4.     You own or operate an SMB

If you own or operate an SMB, or manage IT for an SMB, then you’re likely aware of the constant stream of attacks targeting businesses like yours. SMBs are appealing targets for cyber attackers for a variety of reasons:

  • They often have the same assets as larger companies but lack the resources to adequately secure them.
  • They may struggle to patch and update systems and software, including legacy systems that no longer receive regular developer support—introducing vulnerabilities attackers can easily exploit.
  • Many SMBs mistakenly feel they’re not targets for cyber attackers, despite surging attacks.

If this seems doom-and-gloom, don’t worry: you don’t have to go it alone. Interested in learning how a managed service could fit into your cyber security strategy? Ask your MSP today if they offer managed cyber security, or reach out to one of our experts today to learn more about Field Effect Covalence and our approach to managed security.