Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Cloud

Keys for Working with Modern MSSPs

How to determine what an MSSP can do for your organization, and the questions to ask before signing a contract.

Managed security service providers (MSSPs) are critical elements of a cybersecurity infrastructure for many organizations large and small. So what are some best practices for working with MSSPs?

As with the rest of the security industry, MSSPs are constantly evolving the services they offer and the way they work with their customers.

The first step in working with an MSSP is understanding what you need from the partnership. Maxine Holt, research director of security at Ovum, says the three basic steps in cybersecurity — prevent, detect, and respond — are where the discussion begins. In a presentation during the Cybersecurity Crash Course at Interop last week in Las Vegas, she recommended applying those three security processes to the seven stages of the Mitre ATT&CK kill chain to answer a critical question: Where do I have gaps in my coverage?

When it comes to filling those gaps, MSSPs tend to promise a lot, according to Fred Kwong, CISO at Delta Dental Plans Association, who also discussed MSSPs in a presentation at the Interop Cybersecurity Crash Course. Among the features an MSSP might offer to potential customers, he said, are 24 x 7 monitoring, qualified security pros watching your network full-time, advanced correlation between behaviors and incidents, and reduced time to detect intrusions — all at a lower cost to organizations than performing those tasks in-house.

When those features are broken into their individual functional components, the result is a significant laundry list of possible services. Kwong said that figuring out which of those tasks to contract out, and how deliverables on each are defined, are critical for defining the customer/MSSP partnership and who "owns" which part of the total cybersecurity process.

Holt said that two words should be at the top of the list during the discussion over ownership: integrate and automate. Integration is critical, she said, because even in those cases in which an MSSP will take over essentially all of a company's security functions, effective cybersecurity has to be integrated into the overall IT infrastructure.

And when a company looks for an MSSP to take over a portion of the cybersecurity function, then task can't have any functional or visibility gaps between it and the customer-owned parts of the infrastructure if it's to remain effective.

Ensure there are no functional or visibility gaps between the MSSP's duties and the customer-owned, on-premise infrastructure to ensure the outsourced function is doing the job required with the necessary level of integration with other security functions -- and at the price agreed upon in the contract.

No matter how the MSSP's services are integrated into the customer infrastructure, you can't outsource accountability, Kwong said. Regardless of the the contract language, the MSSP customer is ultimately responsible for making sure that their IT infrastructure is secure, both Kwong and Holt warned.

Related Content:

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 4/7/2020
The Coronavirus & Cybersecurity: 3 Areas of Exploitation
Robert R. Ackerman Jr., Founder & Managing Director, Allegis Capital,  4/7/2020
'Unkillable' Android Malware App Continues to Infect Devices Worldwide
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  4/8/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
Flash Poll
State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
Data breaches and regulations have forced organizations to pay closer attention to the security incident response function. However, security leaders may be overestimating their ability to detect and respond to security incidents. Read this report to find out more.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-1633
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-09
Due to a new NDP proxy feature for EVPN leaf nodes introduced in Junos OS 17.4, crafted NDPv6 packets could transit a Junos device configured as a Broadband Network Gateway (BNG) and reach the EVPN leaf node, causing a stale MAC address entry. This could cause legitimate traffic to be discarded, le...
CVE-2020-8834
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-09
KVM in the Linux kernel on Power8 processors has a conflicting use of HSTATE_HOST_R1 to store r1 state in kvmppc_hv_entry plus in kvmppc__tm, leading to a stack corruption. Because of this, an attacker with the ability run code in kernel space of a guest VM can cause the host kernel to...
CVE-2020-11668
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-09
In the Linux kernel before 5.6.1, drivers/media/usb/gspca/xirlink_cit.c (aka the Xirlink camera USB driver) mishandles invalid descriptors, aka CID-a246b4d54770.
CVE-2020-8961
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-09
An issue was discovered in Avira Free-Antivirus before 15.0.2004.1825. The Self-Protection feature does not prohibit a write operation from an external process. Thus, code injection can be used to turn off this feature. After that, one can construct an event that will modify a file at a specific loc...
CVE-2020-7922
PUBLISHED: 2020-04-09
X.509 certificates generated by the MongoDB Enterprise Kubernetes Operator may allow an attacker with access to the Kubernetes cluster improper access to MongoDB instances. Customers who do not use X.509 authentication, and those who do not use the Operator to generate their X.509 certificates are u...