The inception of outsourcing started way back in the 1980’s and gradually accelerated in the 1990’s. If we dig up the history of hiring services, many organizations did not take it as a convenient facilitator of business convenience. However, in the passage of time, when the load of operational responsibilities and customer services shot up, the necessity of a ‘helping hand’ apart from in-house employees appeared prominently. It not just minimized the workload but also ensured zero interruption in the business continuity.
Due to the increasing demands in every industry, IT services started to get hired by organizations. Initially, what was just ‘IT services’, gradually it turned out to be ‘IT security services’, in the passage of time. Later on, the pattern of services got streamlined into basic cybersecurity mechanisms that got restricted to firewalls and antivirus. But what happens when organizations simply get into the habit of thrusting every work on the outsourced team?
The Nascent Stage
Lack of resources or unavailability of adequate resources necessitated the recruitment of IT staff. There was a time when the meaning of cybersecurity was installing anti-virus software and having firewalls. The organized cyber criminal groups pushed organizations to go a step ahead and developed a Security Operations Center (SOC). This is nothing but a dedicated platform and team that works round the clock to identify, assess, and prevent any cyberattack. However, organizations used to think that SOC is required only in datacenters that were the prime targets of all major IT security threats.
An organization’s entire IT security infrastructure goes for a toss once the entire security is dependent on the hired/ outsourced team. The dilemma of ‘to-be-or-not-to-be’ forced many organizations to do an unusual delay over building up the IT security ecosystem in their organization. Even if SOC was hired, there was no apt and knowledgeable person who could monitor, manage and keep a regular eye on the ‘W’ factors:
- What is happening?
- Who is monitoring?
- What is being accessed?
- Why is it being accessed?
- How is it accessed?
- Who is accessing?
Gradually a million-dollar question popped in the mind of the organizations: Why shouldn’t there be a person equally alert, aware and knowledgeable to assess whether the IT infrastructure of the organization is actually secure? This gave the birth of a CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) and a CTO (Chief Technology Officer). As the pattern of cyber threats turned sophisticated, the required knowledge to prevent threats and protect data assets became highly imperative. Especially, it is not possible for organizations to prevent zero-day threats if there are no reliable and dedicated insiders to manage, control and monitor zero day threats. This initiated the idea of an in-house IT security team (headed by CISO/ CTO/ CIO) even if there is a separate outsourced team.
Truly speaking, the evolution of outsourced cyber security is the fastest one the world has ever seen. Many organizations lack the capacity to ensure robust security in the vast and distributed environment. Due to adoption of advanced technologies, the threat patterns are also changing drastically. Many times, organizations lack the role of the key IT security persons who can do continuous R&D to initiate new strategies to stop anomalous activities in the enterprise network periphery. So, they count on service providers to get the job done.
Moreover, if the organization has multiple privileged environments, then IT security is highly imperative, else non-compliance charges might get applied. Privileged accounts are the gateways to confidential business information and thus there is no alternative to secure the environment. But are the organizations completely safe once they outsource IT security team? What are the advantages and disadvantages of hiring an IT security service provider?
|There are conveniences of outsourcing IT security – the organization need not bother about whom to allocate which task and who would monitor them. There are no in-house responsibilities like continuous monitoring of privileged tasks, IT risk assessment, audit and more||Organizations are forced to share their confidential business information with the third party bodies, as they work closely with the dedicated ‘in-house’ IT team. It is too difficult to restrict sharing of business information|
|Outsourcing offers no requirement of internal resources. It minimizes multiple tasks like recruitment, scrutiny, allocating tasks and above all, keeping a continuous vigil on the activities.||There are risks of malicious actors among the outsourced team. These actors not just malign reputation, but also pushes their recruiters (outsourced organization) towards business loss and business uncertainty.|
|Cost effectiveness is another part which ends just by signing the contract and asking the third-party team to ensure what to do and what not to do. It has been observed on multiple occasions that the cost of a dedicated internal IT security is more compared to that of an outsourcing team.||It is good to have advanced third-party tools to ensure end-to-end security in the client’s IT environment. However, too much dependence on the third-party tools might not allow the organizations to grow quality IT security and IT risk management teams. This might hinder enterprise growth and prosperity.|
|In the case of a privileged environment, the requirement is more intense and simultaneously the risk is also higher. The outsourced team offering a robust Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution becomes responsible for password management, user authentication, and real-time monitoring, audit and compliance.||While outsourcing, it is hardly possible for organizations to maintain confidentiality of business information because unless there is adequate sharing of information, the desired expectation of work might not take place.|
Cyber-attacks, insider threats and third-party threats to confidential data remain one of the topmost concerns for IT security and risk management teams. In the last couple of years, adoption of hybrid models has necessitated more and more usage of outsourced IT security service/ solution providers. Managing on-prem IT security and remote security at the same time is a common challenge for organizations. Outsourcing the relevant IT security service provider can surely overcome the challenge provided the risk factors, as mentioned above, are taken care of.