With cyber-attacks increasing in both number and sophistication, cybersecurity is fast becoming the number one concern among businesses of all sizes. Despite this, many businesses remain complacent when it comes to cybersecurity, particularly smaller businesses that naively contend that they’re unlikely to be targeted by cybercriminals. The stats however paint a different picture, with a 2022 study by cybersecurity firm Barracuda, discovering that small companies are three times more likely to be targeted by cybercrime than larger ones.
From the smallest of start-ups to large multi-national corporations, all businesses today are required to take a responsive, dynamic and vigilant approach to cybersecurity. This means assessing cyber risk across your environment, implementing appropriate security policies to weave best practices into your procedures, and leveraging effective technical tools to keep malicious intruders out of your IT system.
For smaller businesses, tackling all of these tasks can seem daunting, particularly with tight budgetary constraints that limit investments in cybersecurity. Few small to medium sized businesses, for example, can afford to employ a CISO, and even fewer can afford to operate an in-house security operations centre (SOC).
Thankfully, IT support providers with a strong focus on cybersecurity can help smaller businesses bridge the gaps in their cybersecurity posture. Third-party, managed cybersecurity providers grant SME’s access to state-of-the-art tools on a cost-efficient basis, and cybersecurity and compliance consultancy services help them to identify and seal off the vulnerabilities that pose a threat to information security.
Choosing a cybersecurity-focussed IT partner can make all the difference to maintaining a robust, comprehensive, and well-considered cybersecurity posture. So to help, this article serves as a brief guide to finding an IT support partner that will prioritise the security of your digital estate.
4 Essential Qualities of an Effective Cybersecurity Partner
With so many IT support providers to choose from, it can be difficult to discern those that take security seriously from those that view it as an afterthought. To help you achieve clarity, here are 4 vital elements you should look out for in a cybersecurity partner:
Extensive Expertise Across a Range of Cybersecurity Disciplines
Cyber threats come in a variety of forms, and thanks to the scale and complexity of modern IT systems, the attack surface available to the bad actors is bigger than ever. As a result, you need an IT support provider adept in a wide range of cybersecurity capabilities and disciplines. For example, a provider might place heavy emphasis on their proactive approach to patch management. While that’s great, what else is on offer? Do they offer managed email gateway security? Do they provide a managed firewall service? Do they have SOC capabilities? Is cybersecurity training something they’re able to provide? An IT support provider that delivers a narrow security offering will struggle to deliver the broad, multi-layered security protections your business needs.
An Advanced Security Stack Designed to Counter Advanced Modern Threats
Modern hackers are becoming more advanced with every passing year, and now have access to sophisticated tools that help them circumvent traditional cybersecurity defences. Combatting today’s sophisticated hackers means leveraging next-generation security tools, many of which feature machine-learning algorithms capable of spotting subtle attack signatures that older tools would overlook.
Enquire about each prospective provider’s security stack, and look for the presence of next-gen threat mitigation capabilities. This includes advanced tools like intrusion detection systems (IDS), intrusion prevention systems (IPS), next-generation firewalls, security information and event management systems (SIEM) and extended detection and response platforms (XDR). Advanced tools such as these will allow an IT provider to act in the capacity of your Security Operations Centre (SOC), enabling them to provide 24/7 threat monitoring and fast-acting remediation that covers your entire environment.
A Willingness to Add Strategic Value
An IT support provider that specialises in class-leading cybersecurity services will recognise that many organisations are looking for strategic guidance when it comes to developing and implementing a cybersecurity strategy. In response, they’ll offer an element of strategic support or consultancy, often in the form of something called a vCIO service (a virtual chief information officer).
So, what is a vCIO?
A vCIO undertakes many of the duties and responsibilities of a traditional CIO but as a third-party partner, rather than as an employee of your business. With respect to cybersecurity, such duties often include:
- Bringing your technology stack and cybersecurity protections into perfect alignment with your compliance objectives.
- Ensuring that security tools, initiatives and practices are up-to-date, and fully-optimised to reduce the threat of cyber-attacks and data breaches.
- Developing a comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) strategy designed to help you recovery quickly from disruptive events such as cyber-attacks.
- Proactively monitoring for vulnerabilities and weaknesses in your security infrastructure that bad actors could exploit (this could be achieved through vulnerability scanning and penetration testing).
- Setting out pathways to enhancing your security posture, and presenting these to key decision-makers in your business.
- Setting out objectives, and implementing pre-agreed system enhancement strategies.
A vCIO service can go by different names, including ‘Remote CIO’ or a ‘CIO Advisory Service.’ In most cases however, their core purpose will be the same: to provide strategic guidance and direction on configuring your IT environment to be as secure as possible.
Recognition of the ‘Human Factor’ in Cyber Security
Reports suggest that as many as 9 out of 10 data breach events could be attributable to end user error. It therefore stands to reason, that the best cybersecurity service providers recognise the human factor in cybersecurity, and show a readiness to help their clients mitigate against user-initiated risk.
Security-focussed IT support providers will often provide some form of employee cybersecurity training, either directly or via a third party. This may be included in the pricing of their cybersecurity offering, and as such can be a convenient and cost-effective way to educate your staff on common cyber threats, including the most widespread threat of them all: email-based Phishing. By choosing an IT support provider that’s able to offer end user security training, you’ll equip your staff with the knowledge they need to stop the bad actors in their tracks and protect the integrity of your digital estate.
From ransomware and spyware, to drive-by-downloads and social engineering scams, modern-day cybercrooks deploy a variety of methods to infiltrate corporate IT systems to exploit information for malicious gain. To ensure your business stays safe, choose an IT support provider with the skills, cutting-edge capabilities and strategic know-how to robustly defend your IT system against fast-evolving cyber threats.
Truly Secure – IT Support and Managed Cybersecurity for Dubai’s Regulated Industries
Truly Secure helps organisations across Dubai and the UAE secure, streamline and optimize their IT environments to foster growth, and safeguard long-term success. As a security-first IT provider, or cybersecurity offering is second-to-none, offering everything highly regulated businesses need to manage cyber risks effectively, and conquer onerous compliance demands. If you are based in Dubai or across the UAE, contact us today to find out more!