A look at managed services for small and midsize businesses, and how to choose the ones that work for your organization

Dark Reading Staff, Dark Reading

January 10, 2013

3 Min Read

[Excerpted from "Six Security Services Every Small Business Must Have," a new report posted this week on Dark Reading's Security Services Tech Center.]

Most small and midsize businesses struggle to implement and maintain robust security controls to protect their data and that of their customers. This can be because of a lack of active commitment, but it can also be because of a lack of resources and know-how. Fortunately, many IT security processes lend themselves to being outsourced: They are cheaper for a specialist company to deliver than for a company to provide with its own staff and equipment.

Outsourcing security can actually lead to better security, with the potential added benefits of reduced capital and operating expenses. Security services of every stripe are available, but for SMBs working with a limited IT security budget, it's important to choose the services that will improve overall security the most.

1. Security Consultants
Very few SMBs have the budget to put an IT security specialist on the payroll. Many can't even stretch their budgets to employ a fully trained network administrator. At most SMBs, an employee is tasked with "keeping everything running," and most of these employees do an admirable job.

However, their lack of training and experience -- specifically in IT security -- means that they likely don't know whether they have insecure settings on their networks. Systems may appear to be running smoothly, but poor system and application configurations can weaken the overall security of the network, with unidentified vulnerabilities leaving the organization open to attack.

SMBs can help fill this void by bringing in a consultant. When evaluating consultants, ask to see evidence of the qualifications and experience of the person or people who will be assigned to your organization. There are a variety of IT security qualifications, one or more of which a consultant should have.

2. Managed Security Services
Attacks against a business' IT systems can happen at any time of the day or night. Most SMBs do not have the resources required to be able to watch for and respond to such attacks 24/7. A solution for SMBs that have an Internet presence and are concerned that they may be a target for cybercriminals is to subscribe to a managed security service provider to keep viruses, malware, and other attacks from negatively impacting the network and affecting operations.

While many MSSP services are aimed at the enterprise level, ISPs such as AT&T offer a variety of security services on top of the network connectivity they provide. Your ISP is in a prime position to provide a first line of defense, detecting attacks and responding to suspicious activities. It can also help enforce corporate security policies and compliance with relevant federal and industry regulations.

An MSSP will monitor your network, scanning traffic to help identify attacks and tackle attempted intrusions proactively.

To read more about engaging security consultants and MSSPs -- and to find out about other must-have services, including security awareness training, data destruction, auditing, and penetration testing -- download the free report on choosing security services.

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About the Author(s)

Dark Reading Staff

Dark Reading

Dark Reading is a leading cybersecurity media site.

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