IT Security Services: Is Internal or External Right for You?

IT security needs are evolving. In the past, it was mainly enterprise or specialist organizations that invested heavily in their cyber security; however, the cultural concern over data privacy has spread to businesses of all sizes as they undergo digital transformations. As tech ecosystems universally grow in complexity and scale, turning to external IT security services is becoming increasingly popular. 

However, there are certainly some types of businesses for which internal security services are more practical than others. This guide aims to help you determine which solution best fits your business. 

Take Inventory of Your Needs

Step one is always to determine your unique needs. No two businesses are the same, and you may have strengths or vulnerability factors you hadn’t considered beforehand that can help inform your decision. To take a thorough inventory of your needs, your team needs to create a responsibility and coverage matrix to help conceptualize the organizational risks that apply to your program, then assess your needs based on program requirements. There are two ways you can begin understanding your business’s current needs: creating a responsibility and coverage matrix and evaluating your IT/security requirements.

Contextualize Your Risk for Stakeholders

Before you present your business case for any advanced IT security services to your board or leadership, you need to fully comprehend and translate technical risks into concepts they can understand. Try to focus on highlighting these types of risks when presenting your business case:

  • Contractual & SLA Risks. Any risk to a contract of service level agreement can result in critical information leakage and relationship compromisation. 
  • Organizational Security Risks. This pertains to risk to partnerships, contractual agreements, people, products, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and production. 
  • Regulatory Compliance. Running afoul of any regulatory agency is a universally feared risk of poor IT security. 

Identifying and presenting these universal and genuine risks will help your leadership team understand the value of IT security services concisely and practically..  

Assess Your IT/Security Needs to the Program Requirements

The next part of the process is to take stock of all the areas in your technology, security, and availability that your program needs to address. IT and security needs will have an organization-wide impact, so taking the time to understand how any changes will affect the organization both at a high level and at the team level is of the utmost importance.

Consider technology coverage and operational efficiency

The first step in assessing your IT security needs is to ask honest questions about your current program, its health, and IT security needs. Ask yourself:

  • What do you have in place, and how well is it performing?
  • Does it address the needs to their full extent?

You can create or leverage an existing mind map for your gap analysis. By creating a visual representation of your current program, you can better identify where gaps exist and address them. 

Examine program-wide skills and SME time

Next, evaluate your current ability as a program to hire, develop, retain, and promote within your organization. If you’re checking these boxes, that’s certainly an indication that your internal IT security services are healthy.If not, this is a definitive red flag that external services are a good fit. 

Self-audit your role

As a program leader, it’s easy to get sucked into the technology aspect of your work. Evaluate whether you are actually finding enough time to run your program by asking these questions: 

  • Are you managing outcomes and risk, or focusing on technology?
  • Can you scale your programs and costs in a predictable way?

If you find yourself not having the ability to manage your outcomes or not having the capacity to work on scaling, this is something you should take into account when deciding whether to outsource your IT security services. 

Rationalize & Scope

When you rationalize and scope your potential IT security services investment, your number one priority should be recognizing what level of investment will best close the gaps in your environment, and empower your team to achieve program goals. To begin this process, start by prioritizing essential items and identifying gaps. 

Prioritize and address the gaps

Utilize the insights from the previous steps to create a delivery matrix by asking these essential questions:

  • What do you need to deliver?
  • What is the organization’s risk if you don’t? 
  • What are your capabilities and scale based on time, talent, technology, and money?

Remember, not being able to address a need or risk today does not mean it should be ignored! Once you have answered the above questions, it’s time to take action:

  • Create a resourcing plan based on priority/risk and business focus 
  • Explore the reallocation of resources, new hires, and service providers 
  • Address your budget
  • Deliver in-house what is unique and adds value to your org

These steps will be integral in helping you determine if you are capable of handling security in your IT environment internally. Once you’ve completed the above tasks, you can address the rest with additional resources, technology, or services. Make sure you cover what needs to be accomplished versus what can be accomplished based on current resourcing. Then, socialize the plan on a future state with resource utilization internal and external. Finally, get buy-in from key stakeholders, execute your initiative, and measure your progress.

Putting It All Together

Now that you have adequately assessed your capabilities, needs, current security posture, and internal support, it’s time to select whether internal or external IT security services are right for you. If you choose internal, it’s likely that you will have to conduct some recalibration of internal processes and capabilities. It’s rare that any previously unchecked internal IT security service system is fully adequate, so prepare to make adjustments. If your self-assessment reveals that you’re a better candidate for external services, it’s time to start shopping around for a managed security services partner (MSSP)! 

Want to learn more about which IT security solution is best for you? Watch Brian Herr explain the details of how to determine the right solution.

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