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July 26, 2023 |

What to look for in a cybersecurity vendor

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Cyberattacks are a big threat to every business, big and small, but it's not always possible to build an in-house cybersecurity team to safeguard your assets. If you have the right cybersecurity vendor, it's not always necessary, either.

But what is the "right" vendor? It can be hard to tell, given the long, long list of providers and solutions on the market. And, despite what slick marketing would have you believe, not all solutions are created equal.

Several key factors can help narrow down your options. The right vendor will offer:

  • Scalable technology that grows with you
  • A holistic approach to cybersecurity
  • Extensive expertise in the space
  • Stellar customer support & service

We'll take a closer look at these elements to ensure you choose a vendor that will meet your cybersecurity needs for years to come. But first, let's examine when it's right to work with a vendor instead of hiring in-house. 

Working with a vendor vs. hiring in-house

By and large, organizations have two main options to bolster their defenses against the many cyber threats in the wild: work with an external cybersecurity vendor or hire for in-house expertise.

Both approaches have benefits and drawbacks depending on your circumstances.

Hiring in-house cybersecurity professionals

Hiring an in-house team means you have immediate access to professionals wholly dedicated to your organization's cyber landscape. You'd have greater visibility over their operations. An in-house team can be highly efficient, too, because of their familiarity with the IT environment they'll defend.

However, maintaining a full-fledged, in-house team has its challenges.

The cybersecurity skills gap can make it particularly difficult to acquire experienced talent in the first place, let alone retain those critical staff members. Employees with the expertise needed to face these threats command higher salaries that even bigger enterprises struggle to meet on a large scale.

Other factors include the increasing cost of the tools needed to conduct cybersecurity operations, as well as the cost of maintaining necessary skills.

Working with a cybersecurity vendor

Partnering with the right cybersecurity vendor gives you access to a team of experts in various cybersecurity roles without going through a lengthy hiring process. These professionals are often at the forefront of their field, continually exposed to a wide variety of threats faced by organizations in numerous industries.

Outsourcing to a cybersecurity vendor gives you access to the breadth and depth of knowledge needed for effective security. What's more, this makes effective protection available at a fraction of the cost, a massive benefit for small and medium businesses (SMBs) and startups.

Still, outsourcing some or all of your organization's cybersecurity needs thought and planning. You need to carefully assess potential vendors and partners to determine who will provide the best service for your unique needs and situation. This means vetting their skills, experience, and capabilities.

Which is best?

Whether you hire an in-house team or partner with a security vendor, they both have benefits. What's more, it's not an either/or situation, particularly if you already have security professionals on your staff. A hybrid model can offer the best of both worlds, allowing you to employ an in-house team to handle core functions and a cybersecurity vendor for specialized tasks.

Hiring in-house or partnering with a cybersecurity vendor ultimately depends on your organization's circumstances. Factors such as the complexity of your systems, your budget, and your risk profile can guide your decision.

What to look for in a cybersecurity vendor

When choosing a cybersecurity vendor, it's important you evaluate the technology and services they offer and how they'll scale with your business.

Here are five elements to consider.

Technology that scales with your business

Look for a vendor that offers scalable technology that can adapt to changes in your business. What you need today will be different from what you need when you grow to 50, 100, or 1000 employees.

It's important to have a security solution that grows with your organization. The frequency and severity of cyber threats can fluctuate. Larger businesses may have larger or more complex threat surfaces, but smaller businesses are at risk too as they sometimes lack the defenses necessary to prevent or detect an attack.

One-size-fits-all solutions are rarely effective since no two businesses are ever exactly alike. It's crucial that your cybersecurity provider offers technology that's flexible and can handle varying volumes of data, increasingly complex network structures, and more users and employees.

A holistic approach to cyber security

A holistic approach to cybersecurity is vital to surviving an increasingly complex threat landscape.

Instead of focusing all your resources on one aspect of security, consider all the potential avenues malicious actors could exploit: endpoints, cloud services, networks, internet-of-things devices, and more. Your chosen cybersecurity vendor should take a holistic approach to ensure you have end-to-end protection for your digital assets.

Another area to consider is human error, reported as the cause of 88% of all cyberattacks. Your cybersecurity vendor should be able to cover the human factor in your security strategy, with things like suspicious email analysis and phishing simulation services.

This approach should also include proactive threat hunting to address unknown and emerging threats. Your chosen vendor should always have a finger on the pulse of the threat landscape to ensure you're protected from tomorrow's attacks. 

All in all, the right cybersecurity vendor understands that protecting only one part of your business is not the right approach. They'll provide all the tools, technologies, and services you need to know you're fully secured. 

Cybersecurity expertise

A vendor with strong and reliable cybersecurity expertise brings several advantages to the table, especially if you don't have an in-house security team. They can provide useful advice to help you make informed decisions regarding your organization's security measures. Their deep understanding of the threat landscape lets them assess the vulnerabilities specific to your business and recommend the most effective solutions tailored to your needs.

Moreover, a highly experienced and reliable team empowers vendors to swiftly and properly respond to security incidents. They have the necessary skills to identify and mitigate threats promptly, minimizing the potential impacts on your systems and data.

Look for a vendor with expertise that spans multiple disciplines, including network security, data protection, incident response, and risk management. Note that a reputable vendor will invest in ongoing training and development for their team, enabling them to stay ahead of the latest developments, emerging threats, and evolving attack vectors.

Put time back in your schedule

This is a big one. Cybersecurity can be time-consuming, whether it's the owner or an IT expert taking on the responsibility. Attackers prey on overworked teams, knowing fatigue and limited resources increase the chance of breaches.

Working with an experienced and reliable vendor eases stress while strengthening your security. By outsourcing many of your security needs to a third-party vendor, you could regain precious hours needed to focus on fulfilling your mission. 

You can rest assured knowing that your systems and data are safeguarded without having to personally stay on top of the ever-evolving threat landscape or handle every single security incident. Your vendor will handle these critical tasks, ensuring proactive protection and prompt response when necessary.

A reliable cybersecurity vendor will also provide regular reports and updates about your security status. These reports will offer valuable insights into the overall health of your cybersecurity measures, highlighting any vulnerabilities or areas of improvement.

Stellar customer support

Strong customer support goes a long way. Look for a vendor with top-tier customer service. This ensures you have a reliable point of contact to handle any potential issues or concerns that may arise. A dependable vendor should be readily available and responsive to your inquiries, providing timely and professional support whenever needed.

A commitment to customer service fosters a strong working relationship, giving you peace of mind knowing that you have a trusted partner to rely on. This flexibility allows you to optimize the work and benefits of the security vendor, allowing it to fit into your schedule.

By choosing a vendor with exceptional customer service, expertise, and support, you can be confident that your valuable data is protected and your business operations remain secure.

Choosing the right cybersecurity vendor

Choosing the right cybersecurity vendor is an important decision that can significantly impact your business's security and resilience. By considering their approach to the factors above and how they can help you save time, you can make an informed decision that will serve your business well.

At Field Effect, we understand that the world of cybersecurity is vast and complex. If you want to deepen your understanding, you can download our e-book, Choosing the Right Cybersecurity Solution, designed to provide you with valuable insights and practical tips to enhance your cybersecurity strategy.