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Outsourced vs. in-house cybersecurity: pros and cons

By NordLayer
24 May 2022
10 min read
Outsourced vs in house Cybersecurity Pros and Cons

Cybersecurity-wise, the pandemics acted as pouring fuel on the fire. Cyber threats started to crop up in a previously unseen severity and scale. These circumstances make a solid case to set up a security strategy to increase your business data protection.

It’s also easier said than done. While most organizations need cybersecurity solutions, there’s more than one way to set it up. Here’s our take on how to go about setting up managed security services in your organization by taking them in-house or hiring external partners.

Why is cybersecurity important?

Let’s first clarify cybersecurity’s place in today’s business environment. As you know, it’s a field that deals with the protection of networks, systems, and devices from unauthorized access. The more technologies a business uses, the more they become susceptible to various cyber attacks as the number of potential weak points expands.

According to CISA, just last year, we’ve seen 43% of all cyberattacks targeting small businesses as they’ve grown 400% since the beginning of the outbreak. Therefore, cybersecurity should no longer be viewed as a nice addition but as one of the critical business areas. However, there’s never a one-size-fits-all solution for all essential business operations.

Depending on your business size, type, industry, and compliance requirements, there are many approaches to introducing cybersecurity services into your organization. One of the first boxes you should tick off the list is deciding between security outsourcing or developing an in-house team.

Difference Between Outsourced and In-house Cybersecurity Solutions

As the name would suggest, in-house cybersecurity refers to an internal security operations team. It consists of cybersecurity experts supervised by the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). They are your core employees responsible for everything from vulnerability management to threat detection.

Outsourced cybersecurity solutions typically refer to third-party contractors that oversee cybersecurity infrastructure remotely. The extent and range of services may depend on many factors. Likely your organization will be one among other clients. Not all cybersecurity operations must be outsourced. An organization might turn to contractors just for monitoring or when a cyberattack occurs.

While both options are valid, some may bring particular benefits significant to your cybersecurity management. Here are the main benefits associated with particular in-house or external setups.

TL:DR: outsourced vs. in-house—which one to choose?

Benefits of outsourcing cybersecurity

Outsourcing cybersecurity might seem like giving away the control of your organization’s defense. However, this approach can have a lot of cybersecurity benefits.

Fast setup

One of the biggest advantages of outsourcing cybersecurity operations is turning to experts who already have everything up and running. The minute a contract is signed, the deployment can begin, which means you’re getting everything you need without delays.

If you discover that your business is at a heightened risk of being attacked, it may also make sense as you won’t have the time at your disposal to wait around. With cybersecurity, time can be of the essence, and outsourcing is the fastest approach. Everything from infrastructure to security professionals will be ready immediately.

Cybersecurity experience

Cybersecurity response teams for hire are large expert teams that share knowledge. Their work involves multiple clients and supervision of various setups. Therefore, they are almost universally better equipped to handle cyber threats. They’re living and breathing cybersecurity. It’s their primary expertise.

Even if you come under fire with a severe cyberattack as a client, the outside cyber response team can quickly adjust. If a bigger threat requires specific experts, they could quickly move their internal resources around to call in additional support—something no internal team would be able to do.

Cost efficiency

Cybersecurity services require highly qualified specialists, which means that the price for their services can ramp up. However, when compared to the total cost of setting up everything in-house, external providers are in a completely different price category.

It’s also worth pointing out that paying for an external provider reaps immediate value. The investment is quicker, and it has faster results — it’s a much better cost efficiency than in-house. For this reason, some enterprises are only turning to cybersecurity providers only when a cyberattack is underway as a method to cut the expenses further.

Potential risks of outsourcing cybersecurity

For all its benefits, outsourcing cybersecurity has some drawbacks as well. Here are some of the most important of them that you should consider.

Hidden costs

Cybersecurity providers’ contracts provide a list of their services or fees, yet it always should be treated as an approximation. You often won’t know the full cost of their services unless you’ve been with the provider for a while.

Let’s say you find a new vulnerability in your infrastructure. You may require a multi-level approach to fully patch up to safely continue the operations, including hardware swap, data migrations, and other actions. Even if you agreed on their specialists’ hourly tariffs, you’d still need to pay for the said hardware and cover all additional costs. In the end, the price that you thought you would pay can increase several times.

Biased decision-making

Being one of the clients from the list can also bring the danger of being shoehorned into standardized care. It may not always consider your specific case, leading to the application of substandard solutions to a substandard effect.

As a client, you have no control over their actions. There are also valid concerns that your company resources can be wasted and won’t help when cyberattacks eventually happen.

Response times may vary

Every single cybersecurity provider will promise you unparalleled response times. You can expect that those times will probably be slower. Let’s assume that the contractor is already putting out fires for another client. How much time does that leave to take for your business?

The truth is that the priority support will go to the clients who are the biggest spenders or those who are undergoing the most severe threats, which leaves those in the middle in a grey zone. Unless it’s a code red alarm, your issue may not get adequate care. Eventually, these issues could already escalate into serious threats. It’s always a gamble.

Pros of in-house cybersecurity

Doing everything in-house can be a benefit on its own. Here are the most important benefits that drive business owners to self-manage their cybersecurity.

Priority attention

In-house cybersecurity teams provide reassurance that no matter what issues pop up, your organization’s needs will come first. This also means that the counteractions will start immediately after finding out about it, whatever the problem is.

Likely, this also means a much higher quality of maintenance and should provide better security overall. External providers will act strictly to the agreed terms, which can be a cog in the wheel if you need instant action.

Better control

It’s much easier to supervise your employees than third-party contractors, which allows for using a versatile team of security professionals. Oversee every team member’s activities and prioritize tasks without bottlenecks.

Not to mention that having an internal team lets you repurpose their skills if there is ever a need. Cybersecurity specialists can also help you out during penetration tests and consult other internal IT departments bringing benefits not only from the security standpoint.

Better knowledge of the organization

Homegrown specialists will know everything there is to know about your organization. An in-house team will know the industry’s specifics and internal processes, giving them an edge when mitigating threats before they even happen.

An internal team has a much better insight into the business itself, which can also be helpful for the cybersecurity side. Your team will also always know the organization’s direction, even when it would be confidential. By default, this better prepares for all upcoming challenges.

Merge with your existing security

One of the main advantages of the in-house cybersecurity team will be its ability to integrate into your other operations. Cybersecurity is just one side of a company-wide security strategy. Securing systems goes hand in hand with access control, video surveillance, and other solutions.

The internal team can contribute to a holistic setup encompassing a much bigger scope. Your security status should improve, enhancing cyber and physical security and covering all bases.

Cons of in house cybersecurity

Doing everything on your own does come with its drawbacks. Here are some disadvantages that affect the in-house cybersecurity approach.

Professionals will be hard to find

The industry faces a shortage of cybersecurity professionals, meaning that both the cybersecurity providers and the corporations are fighting for the same talent pool. In most cases, the searches may drag for a while, and you may have to jump through multiple hoops to hire a specialist.

Team retention

Assuming that you have the resources to assemble a team, this doesn’t mean that it will stay with you forever. It can happen that less experienced members will use their experience working for you as a launching pad to become independent consultants or testers later on.

The personnel shortage only raises qualified specialists’ value, which means it’s straightforward for them to hop through jobs as soon as something more lucrative appears.

Limited resources

Your in-house team will be one of your departments, which will likely have a set budget. Businesses will need to funnel funds into many diverse business areas, which means that cybersecurity might fall in and out of importance as you go forward with your business.

These limitations can be dangerous as these fluctuations may create a space that cybercriminals could exploit.

Key-person risk

Your in-house team will be responsible for setting up your complete infrastructure. The ones in your organization from the beginning will have seen every aspect of its unique properties, which are invaluable. Your business may solely depend on a particular person for future cybersecurity in this case.

Hybrid approach

If you have the means, you don’t need to choose one. Both options are possible at the same time if you can afford them. For some businesses, the best formula is to use both in-house and external cybersecurity options. They could have a smaller in-house team with external consultants that would help them out in a security breach.

The internal team could also be responsible for everyday maintenance, while the external could handle more severe accidents. External operations could also function as a support for internal processes. Note that you’re also getting both sets of benefits and drawbacks in this case.

Should your business outsource cybersecurity?

Outsourced vs in house Cybersecurity Pros and Cons Table

Outsourcing cybersecurity will provide a baseline to ensure that your company is at better odds regarding online threats. If you want to micromanage every setup detail, it might be better to go in-house.

Whether outsourcing is worth it will depend entirely on your business type, industry, and risk model. Cybersecurity services in-house or outsourced can put a huge burden on your finances, so explore all the options at your disposal.

It’s important to conduct an initial evaluation to understand specific vulnerabilities your organization faces that put you in danger of cyberattack. Once you have more data, it will be easier to evaluate the potential risks and the involved costs.

If the risks are minor, investing in a dedicated in-house cybersecurity response team is probably not worth it. On the other hand, if your business faces severe cyber threats daily, you should take no chances and go with a hybrid approach.

Let NordLayer protect your business

If you never took any cybersecurity precautions, jumping into outsourced and in-house team discussions can be overwhelming. Let’s not forget that introducing small changes can be beneficial without drastically raising your cybersecurity spending.

NordLayer is one of those additions — a cloud-based secure access service edge (SASE) framework that facilitates your network management. Built with the Zero Trust model in mind. It provides tight security controls to segment your network no matter what size your organization is.

Get in touch with our team and explore new ways to secure your remote workforces, plan safe file exchanges and ensure compliance with your industry’s regulations. Benefit from professional solutions while keeping the threats in check.

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