Cybersecurity threats are growing daily – up by 600% since the pandemic. And emerging threats have become more sophisticated. As such, businesses must set up a comprehensive security strategy to increase asset protection.
Many companies outsource cybersecurity operations to experienced managed security service providers (MSSPs). But there is also much opportunity in in-house cybersecurity. Besides, the sensitivity of business operations and private consumer data means specific cybersecurity tasks must be kept in-house.
The Deloitte study shows that only 0.4% of cybersecurity leaders outsource all their information security operations. This means in-house cybersecurity operations are critical. And certain tasks must be kept within the four walls of your organization.
But what roles should you outsource, and which ones should be in-house? Security Operations (SecOps), Vulnerability Management, Physical Security, and Training & Awareness are the most common cybersecurity functions businesses outsource to third parties.
In this guide, we'll discuss in-house cybersecurity, its pros and cons, and the tasks you should keep in-house.
What Is In-House Cybersecurity?
In-house cybersecurity refers to an organization’s internal security operations team. An in-house cybersecurity team is headed by the Chief Information Security Officer, who supervises various units, such as the Red and Blue teams. And roles like Incident Handler, Risk Analyst, Penetration Tester, etc.
Although both outsourced and in-house cybersecurity strategies are widely-used, some may provide specific benefits to your security management. Hiring third parties or keeping tasks within your organization depends on many factors. Some include your current and potential security risks, the security task, budget, employees, and goals.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of keeping cybersecurity tasks in-house:
The Pros of In-House Security Operations
Here are the top reasons business leaders should self-manage their cybersecurity:
- Control: Keeping cybersecurity tasks in-house can provide more governance and operational control than handing over to an external MSSP. With cybersecurity professionals as employees, business leaders can control who works in and on the company’s security infrastructure. They can monitor their cybersecurity experts and ensure they implement the organizational culture. This also helps business owners communicate confidential business measures to in-house teams.
- Security and Privacy: Another advantage of in-house security measures is the security and privacy of confidential customer data. Over the years, there have been many reports of snooping from third-party information security providers. In 2019, Apple was in the middle of a controversy that revealed the contractor overseeing the company's quality control could hear users' private recordings. This included medical details, drug deals, and intimate moments. The company was forced to release an iPhone update enabling users to opt out of the QA project. As such, keeping certain tasks internal ensures sensitive information is not shared with third parties.
- Knowledge of the Company: In-house cybersecurity teams have a comprehensive understanding of the business and day-to-day activities. They know the network hardware, software, and other team members' roles. This knowledge heightens their awareness of how much impact a technical change can have on servers, networks, individuals, teams, and the business.
- Improved Communication and Collaboration Among Teams: One of the biggest drawbacks of outsourcing cybersecurity operations is response time. Many MSSPs, especially the best ones, handle several clients. Some of them may also be off-shore, leading to different time zones. This could affect response times, which may be damaging during cyber-attacks. On the other hand, in-house cybersecurity teams are fully committed to an organization. They can collaborate easily with other employees and communicate with decision-makers on security threats. This ensures quicker threat detection, immediate incident response, and reduced service downtimes.
- Merges Seamlessly With Existing Security: Another advantage of an in-house security team is it can be combined with current physical security like swipe cards, surveillance, and access control. This forms a Joint Security Operations Center (JSOC) that improves the organization’s cyber and physical security. The combination will ultimately provide a deeper investigation into cyber-attacks, data breaches, and insider threat detection. As such, businesses can see the bigger picture in events and also understand unusual patterns.
- Priority Attention: In-house cybersecurity teams give you peace of mind that your organization's needs will always come first, no matter what issues arise. This also means that whatever the problem is, the responses will begin as soon as they are discovered.
Therefore, higher-quality maintenance will lead to a better security architecture. Third-party providers will strictly adhere to the agreed-upon terms, which can be a stumbling block if you require immediate action.
The Cons of In-House Security Operations
While there are many obvious benefits, in-house security operations have drawbacks you should know before deciding.
- Limited Resources: For most companies, the in-house security team is only one of many departments. Businesses must direct funds into many aspects, meaning cybersecurity may not be the most important. This budgetary constraint may be catastrophic and exploited by cybercriminals.
- Shortage of Quality Cybersecurity Professionals and Cutting-Edge Technologies: Hiring professionals with the required skills and experience and developing and training existing in-house employees can be time-consuming and expensive. There is a shortage of cybersecurity professionals. In most cases, searching for the right people to fill in-house security roles will take a while. In addition, most companies cannot afford cutting-edge, AI-driven security tools used by MSSPs. Compliance monitoring and continuous threat detection across multiple departments will require these technologies, so an in-house security team may be too costly for your budget.
- Over-reliance on One Person: Many in-house cybersecurity teams depend on one person for different issues. This could be due to financial constraints, the inability to find skilled professionals, or the person's experience. While a loyal employee is beneficial, over-dependence on one cybersecurity professional during attacks is unreliable.
- Planning and Implementation: The time it takes to set up an in-house cybersecurity operations center can easily be a year, if not longer. CISOs and business leaders must spend significant time planning and implementing the SOC.
Cybersecurity Tasks to Keep In-House
So, should you keep your security in-house or outsource? Here are the tasks you must not outsource:
- Access Controls: Access control is a critical component of security that determines who has access to specific data, applications, and resources—and under what conditions. Just like keys protect physical spaces, access control policies protect digital spaces. So, handing over the keys to a third party is a huge security risk. While you may need to allow access to certain assets to ensure MSSPs do their jobs, the business must retain access control functions.
- Security Strategy: Developing a security strategy requires extensive knowledge of your industry, market and company size, and business model. Designing cybersecurity policies and procedures (link) should be done in-house rather than relying entirely on a third party. Companies that cannot afford a full-time CISO can hire a consultant with a well-defined Service Level Agreement (SLA). This is better than outsourcing the entire security strategy to an MSSP. You can also hire virtual CISOs, enabling you to maintain a stable relationship with a specialist in your niche.
- Security Architecture: Another prominent role that involves critical decisions and has far-reaching implications for your organization's cybersecurity is the creation of your security architecture. Similar to the security strategy, hiring a consultant rather than completely outsourcing allows you to retain complete control over the decisions.
- Governance and Compliance: Most businesses are better off keeping governance and compliance internal. The teams required to oversee these departments are typically smaller than those handling SecOps, vulnerability assessment, and threat management. Compliance teams help the organization ensure the company adheres to regulatory requirements in their location or industry.
- Cybersecurity Transformation Programs: Although this can be outsourced, keeping cybersecurity transformation tasks internal is usually cost-effective. The core duty of the security transformation team is to evolve the company's security architecture based on emerging trends and business changes. The team will supervise the roadmap to security transformation and similar future programs. Allowing internal staff to handle this role means they are more capable of keeping awareness of the organization's maturity path. In addition, this will align the long-term digital transformation strategy and other related cybersecurity programs.
- Vendor Selection and Management: In-house and MSSP security approaches work hand-in-hand. Most organizations will end up outsourcing parts of their cybersecurity operations. But it's important not to outsource vendor selection and management to another third party. You know your business model, current cybersecurity threats, risk appetite, and company goals. This means you understand what you need and the type of vendors your business’ cybersecurity infrastructure needs. In-house CISOs and other business leaders are responsible for choosing the right MSSP, setting metrics to measure success, preparing SLAs, and managing them. Not every solution is suitable for every business. Some businesses will benefit more from an in-house security solution. Others will benefit more from outsourcing certain parts of their security to a firm.
Why You Need a Hybrid Approach
Overall, combining in-house and outsourced cybersecurity is the best formula for most businesses. You shouldn't outsource your entire cybersecurity operations and don't need to keep every function in-house.
If you can afford it, a hybrid approach provides comprehensive cybersecurity. This helps you take advantage of the faster setup that outsourcing cybersecurity companies offer while the company builds its security operations. The organization can take advantage of an MSSP's trained, experienced staff while developing the services that it wants to manage on its own.
By combining internal and outside resources, you'll outsource the expensive modern security technologies, overtime, and voluminous work rather than investing directly.
Now that you know the cybersecurity tasks that must be kept in-house, training your cybersecurity teams is critical. Security teams must stay ahead of industry trends and the latest threats. Start for free now.