The Danger of Outsourcing Cybersecurity Offshore

Written by Charlie Stubbs

Cyberattacks, data breaches and malware infections are common occurrences for organizations of any size all across the globe. As such, it has become a daily priority for IT managers and departments to detect and eradicate these threats before they are able to cause any detrimental effects to the business.

It is becoming common practice to tackle this problem by procuring a dedicated team, separate from your general IT department, known as a Security Operations Centre (SOC). A SOC is an integral element when considering your cybersecurity posture, and there are two main options available to organizations when looking at ways to correctly handle the safety of the company; to build and maintain your own in-house SOC, or to outsource by seeking externally managed security providers.

Implementing a front-line defense to cyberattacks is vital to any organization. In my experience you can throw money at the problem and buy the very best tools, however, if this isn’t configured or deployed correctly and in turn monitored daily, then as a business, you are not leveraging your investment and you could still be susceptible to these attacks.

With this in mind it is easy to see why a 2019 Deloitte survey of 500 C-level executives found that 99% of organizations outsourced some portion of their cybersecurity operations. This report clearly indicated that “Security Operations” is the number one function managed externally, which makes sense when you consider the cost of building and maintaining a Security Operations Center (SOC) yourself.  

This survey also shows us that the respondents viewed ‘cyber transformation’ as one of the most challenging aspects of cyber risk management, with rapid IT changes, better prioritization of cyber risks across the enterprise, and lack of skilled cyber professionals being among the top reported concerns within this subject.

What to look for when exploring outsourced Security Operations Centres

As this is a problem that can affect organizations of any size, it is important to note that a threat of any kind is a worrying prospect and the costs involved can be quite daunting. Particularly for small businesses or those on tight budgets, in which case offshore security firms may offer rather enticing pricing for their cyber security solutions. However, sending security work overseas can prove to be more complex and riskier than you might expect.

When outsourcing in any capacity it is logistically impossible to properly vet contractors, especially when multiple layers of subcontractors may be involved. Data security could be placed in the hands of entry-level security analysts with no education and very little training.

Staff turnover of these particular organizations is another factor to consider. In some countries and large outsourcing firms, the rate at which employees move jobs could present further complications. Differences in international laws mean that businesses have little or no recourse if a breach occurs due to a mistake or an act of sabotage by an employee of an offshore contractor. Another consideration around international laws is that risks become more relevant when processes are localized in offshore locations where the cultural and legal environment is less able to protect foreign operators.

A new trend we have found is that companies are forced, by increased international competition, to rethink their sourcing strategies. In doing so, they must manage several risks and one of the most critical is data and knowledge security. These risks have become so significant that many companies are often reluctant to adopt outsourcing and especially offshoring solutions.

A recent report by the INSA warns federal authorities that have outsourced a large portion of their IT services to offshore companies, run a higher risk of allowing hackers to gain unauthorized access to their supply chains and IT systems, and must do more to mitigate risk

As we have said before, outsourcing is in general not a bad thing. However, it can come with inherent risks that an organization needs to be aware of when considering the different models available to them. A thorough check of the service reliability of each potential outsourcing partner, the laws that they adhere to, and repeated checks during the business relationship are advised.

If you would like any further help or advice regarding your company’s data, please fill out the form below and a member of our team will be in touch.

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