How To Choose a Cybersecurity Partner in 5 Steps
Cybersecurity is becoming increasingly critical for businesses in today's digital landscape. With the rise of cyber threats, it's more important than ever to protect your company's data and assets. But with so many cybersecurity companies out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your specific needs. In this article, we'll break down the top five steps you should take when selecting a cybersecurity partner. By following these steps, you can ensure that your business is protected with the most fitting and effective cybersecurity solution available. So let's dive in and find the perfect cybersecurity partner for your business.
Step 0 – Your Requirements
Every company has essential security needs and, thus, basic protection should always be provided. However, not every company needs the same degree of protection once we get away from the basics. So it’s in your best interest to define your business requirements to the best of your abilities.
Assuming you do not have the subject matter expertise necessary to know the manner in which your company should be protected, your cybersecurity partner, besides implementing security safeguards, should first conduct a cybersecurity assessment/audit to identify your needs.
Then they should advise you on a strategic and tactical level and propose the optimal tech stack you should use. Mind you, the company that does the assessment does not have to be the company you hire to implement the security measures.
Again, to provide the best cybersecurity solutions, your partner needs to understand your business requirements. The top cybersecurity companies will work with you to find the most fitting solution for your specific situation. With that out of the way, let’s talk about what you should look for in cybersecurity companies.
1. Training and Credentials
Cybersecurity is a constantly evolving field, where security providers need to keep up with the latest advancements in tech. The top cybersecurity companies will provide constant training to their staff and religiously maintain their credentials. Consequently, look at what kind of certifications your potential cybersecurity partners have.
Typically, cybersecurity vendors will clearly display certifications issued by an accredited institution on their websites. If that’s not the case, simply contact a company representative and ask them for the company’s/staff’s credentials.
However, the issue is that there are many cybersecurity certifications, too many to list, and it can be difficult to parse through them. Some carry more weight than others, while some are intended for very specialized subfields of cybersecurity. Consequently, it is advisable to research what each certificate is and how it is acquired while you are considering a company.
To help you along, here are some (but certainly not all) of the most popular cybersecurity certifications in 2023:
- CompTIA Security+
- CISSP (Certified Information System Security Professional)
- CISA (Certified Information System Auditor)
- CCSP (Certified Cloud Security Professional)
- CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker)
Trust Service Principles and SOC 2
We can’t talk about cybersecurity credentials without focusing a bit on System and Organization Control (SOC) 2 compliance and the Trust Service Principles. In practical terms, SOC 2 is the methodology used by third-party service providers to insure that customer data is securely processed and stored.
SOC 2 was developed by the American Institute of CPAs based on five Trust Service Principles:
- Processing Integrity
As your cybersecurity provider will be handling your and your customers’ private data, you would want that data to be securely processed and stored, right? Thus, it’s advisable if you choose a cybersecurity partner that is SOC 2 compliant.
Additionally, a SOC 2-compliant partner can also test your company and issue reports to check if your organization is SOC 2-compliant too. So, while the certificates we mentioned above attest to an individual’s cybersecurity expertise, SOC 2 compliance is an organization-wide framework that adds an added layer of protection.
2. Demonstrable Experience
Certificates and credentials are one thing, but being in the trenches is another. Ideally, your cybersecurity service provider will have demonstrable experience. You can find this out by looking at the previous projects the company has worked on. Check out a company’s portfolio or case studies to find this information.
If you can’t find such documents, contact a company representative to ask for them. Your best option is to hire a company that has successfully implemented security measures for companies in your industry or niche.
3. Priorities and Focus
A cybersecurity company should only focus on cybersecurity, that’s a given, right? Well, not necessarily. Many IT companies provide cybersecurity services alongside other software development and IT solutions. So just because a company does not provide exclusively cybersecurity services does not mean it should be completely disregarded.
On the other hand, cybersecurity should definitely not be an afterthought. That’s the reason the previous two steps are so important – they can show you that a company is truly dedicated to providing top-notch cybersecurity services.
4. Adaptability and Scalability
Some cybersecurity agencies provide packaged security services that they apply to all of their clients. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as their security model might be applicable 99% of the time. However, some organizations, your organization in particular, may require specific solutions that can’t be covered by a given pre-made model.
Thus, when you are choosing a cybersecurity company, go for the one that will provide you with a strategy specifically created for your business. If the strategy aligns with their standard model, that is fine too, but if it does not, the company should adapt its approach to your specific needs.
Again, that’s why it’s important to conduct an assessment and/or audit before a strategy is created. So, if a cybersecurity provider does not conduct an assessment, that’s a red flag. Similarly, a data security provider should consider the scalability of their solutions.
The best cybersecurity companies will consider all the systems, locations, personnel, etc. that use IT resources within your company and take into account that your organization may grow. Their cybersecurity services should be able to scale with your growing business needs, and that’s something that should be included in their strategies.
Finally, when you are outsourcing security services, you need to know what’s happening. So, you need to establish a good rapport with your cybersecurity partner. In practice, this often means agreeing on regular monthly or quarterly reports.
If a company is not willing to provide regular updates on its efforts, that is another red flag. It is in your best interest if the contract you sign includes a provision on the analytics and reports your partner is obligated to provide.
What Does a Cybersecurity Company Do?
A cybersecurity company protects an organization’s digital assets from internal and external threats. The manner in which they do this is complex – from performing tests and assessments, to creating and implementing security tools, to providing monitoring and maintenance.
However, because cybersecurity is a vast field and there are numerous types of threats, the kinds of services companies offer vary greatly. Some of the more common security services are:
- Ransomware protection
- Malware protection
- Anti-virus software
- Device management
- Password management
- Application security
- Network security
- Website security
- Data processing
- Data storage
And because these are just some of the more common security services companies provide, it can be a lot to take in. But it’s important to note that the best cybersecurity companies take a holistic approach and tailor the services they provide to your specific needs.
So, it’s on your cybersecurity partner to assess how you will be best protected, while it’s on you to find the best cybersecurity partner. Consequently, let’s discuss how you can choose the best cybersecurity company to hire.
Don’t Rush the Process
While it may seem like your company is in dire need of security, partnering with the wrong partner can bring more harm than good in the long run. Consequently, take your time to evaluate all potential cybersecurity vendors.
One option is to vet companies by going through these 5 steps, making a shortlist, and then sending out software RFPs to find the best candidate. The process can several months, but the effort will be well worth it in the end.