The cybersecurity skills gap situation has become a vicious cycle.
On one hand, 63% of cybersecurity professionals complain that working conditions have become more difficult over the last two years owing to a heavy surge in cyberattacks, mounting data privacy concerns, overwhelming workloads, budget restrictions, staffing shortages and a complex regulatory environment.
On the other hand, 71% of organizations report an acute shortage of cybersecurity skills, which is overburdening existing teams, leading to higher burnout rates and staff attrition.
Meanwhile, the threat landscape is evolving so fast, and attack surfaces (cloud, supply chain, network, endpoints, employees, applications, hardware and devices) have become so enormous that two-thirds of organizations are struggling to understand even their own cyber risk.
To top it off, the widening skills shortage is leaving organizations exposed, vulnerable and unprepared. Skills shortages increase the chances for human error (e.g., misconfigurations) and limit the security team’s ability to learn or utilize technology to its full potential. Gartner predicts that by 2025, lack of talent will be responsible for over half of all cybersecurity incidents.
These are a few of the factors that can lead organizations to outsource at least parts of their cybersecurity function.
The Role Of Outsourcing In Overcoming The Skills Gap
Organizations have been outsourcing technology functions for decades. This is sometimes done to drive cost reduction; other times, outsourcing is used to increase the pace of technology adoption and digital transformation.
Cybersecurity is at a similar juncture today where the widening talent gap and the demand for greater security expertise are making outsourcing increasingly attractive: 93% of organizations plan to offload some aspect of cyber risk to security service providers within the next two years.
According to Gartner, 42% of global risk management spending in 2024 will be spent on outsourcing security services like consulting, implementation and hardware support. Other functional areas where security providers can help bridge the gap of available cybersecurity talent include:
1. Security Testing And Continuous Threat Monitoring:
An average security operations center (SOC) needs anywhere from six to twenty people and costs $2.86 million to maintain in-house. Organizations can leverage the infrastructure and expertise of a service provider without the costly investments in infrastructure and people.
2. Risk Assessments And Security Reviews:
Third-party security analysts can provide an independent assessment of existing systems, processes and security approaches to identify any loopholes that may have gone undetected. They can run penetration tests, check for misconfigurations and validate whether existing security controls are adequately working as expected. When taking this route, it is essential to seek an independent opinion that is free from influence or bias, so be sure to maintain a clear separation between auditors and service providers.
3. vCISO services:
If organizations are looking for an experienced C-level advisor who can step in and manage security, they can consider hiring a virtual CISO (vCISO). These vCISOs can lend leadership and guidance on programs and policy development, deal with security incidents and provide advice on compliance, privacy and regulations.
4. Rapid Incident Response:
When a security incident or a ransomware attack strikes, it’s difficult for existing security teams to manage the fallout. Organizations can consider outsourcing certain tasks to service providers such as conducting investigations and impact analysis, providing guidelines for recovery or consulting with insurance carriers, government reporting agencies, partners and other stakeholders on behalf of the organization.
5. Compliance, Privacy, Cyber Insurance:
Compliance, privacy and regulations like HIPAA, PCI DSS, GDPR and CCPA are highly specialized and usually require external expertise and advice. Organizations can turn to a trusted service provider for the guidance needed to comply with industry frameworks and regulations or to evaluate the procurement of cyber insurance.
Navigating The Outsourcing Maze To Ensure A Fruitful Cybersecurity Partnership
In an era where 64% of companies experience significant challenges in filling cybersecurity positions, outsourcing emerges as a strategic necessity, not just a convenience. However, venturing into this landscape is akin to navigating a complex maze, where the right steps can lead to success, and missteps can exacerbate vulnerabilities.
With this in mind, here are a few key steps to take when outsourcing cybersecurity functions.
Vet for expertise and compatibility. When choosing an outsourcing partner, delve beyond the surface. Ask potential vendors about their experience in your industry, their approach to staying abreast of evolving threats and their track record in handling incidents. This ensures you’re aligning with a partner who not only understands cybersecurity but also grasps the nuances of your sector.
Define clear roles and responsibilities. A common pitfall in outsourcing is the ambiguity in roles. Establish a clear understanding of what responsibilities lie with the vendor and what stays in-house. This delineation is critical in avoiding gaps in your cybersecurity coverage.
Emphasize communication and transparency. A successful outsourcing partnership thrives on open communication. Regular updates, transparent reporting and open channels for feedback create a dynamic where issues can be addressed proactively rather than reactively.
Include regular performance reviews. Outsourcing is not a set-and-forget solution. Regularly review your vendor’s performance against agreed benchmarks. This practice keeps the vendor accountable and ensures your cybersecurity strategy evolves with changing threats.
Moving Beyond Managed Services To Operated Services And AI
According to Deloitte, outsourcing models are evolving to what is called “operate services.” This is where organizations aren’t just looking to tap into standard cybersecurity skills and capabilities but are looking to develop complex and core security functions using an integrated ecosystem of both external and internal talent to help acquire new capabilities and address regulatory requirements.
Outsourcing isn’t the only solution to addressing the talent gap or the lack of expertise. Artificial intelligence technologies are drawing up fast, and organizations can harness these to take the load off security teams, but that, too, requires specialized skills. Organizations should keep these trends in mind as they seek trusted, third-party security advisors who can fill the resource gaps, enhance the cybersecurity stance and act based on their experience collaborating with numerous companies.