SOC Not in Your Budget. Now What?

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If you’re an MSP, it’s now virtually impossible to deliver services without some sort of security component. The reality is, even if you don’t manage security for your customers, they most likely will blame you if you suffer a breach.

Jim Hansen, Vice President, Products and Security, SolarWinds
Author: Jim Hansen, VP, products and security, SolarWinds, parent of SolarWinds MSP

But delivering security services requires an investment in skills, technology, and time on the MSP’s part. And, let’s face it, most MSPs don’t have the budget to mount a Security Operations Center (SOC) to handle security implementations, updates, compliance, and maintenance for clients. So what’s an MSP to do?

The good news is you don’t have to put millions of dollars into building a SOC. What you need is access to one. Recognizing the budget constraints of MSPs, SOC services are now being offered in much the same fashion as any other service, such as data backup and recovery or cloud application hosting.

Not surprisingly, there are different approaches to SOC as a service. Some vendors are offering it to MSP partners directly and others are delivering services through a two-tier channel with managed security service providers (MSSPs), essentially acting as distributors. From an MSP’s perspective, deciding the best approach comes down to figuring out the model that best suits your needs.

SOC Advantages

The advantages of outsourcing your SOC, as opposed to building and managing your own, are plentiful. There’s the obvious benefit of not having to shell out big bucks to build it. You also won’t have to allocate budget for the expense of recruiting, hiring, and retaining cybersecurity experts, who are increasingly harder to come by.

Consider this newly released statistic from security association (ISC)2: Currently the cybersecurity talent shortage is at three million professionals worldwide, including 500,000 job openings in North America. What this means is hiring cybersecurity talent is not only a big challenge for MSPs but also for end customers.

Tapping into SOC services provides a solution to this problem, making it possible for you to offer clients a variety of security services, including vulnerability assessments, round-the-clock monitoring, active response to security incidents, incident analysis and remediation, auditing, event logging, and compliance with government and industry regulations such as HIPAA, GDPR, Sarbanes Oxley and PCI DSS.

Cybersecurity has evolved far past antivirus scans, firewalls, and patch management. While these basic tools remain a necessity, building a robust security posture requires multiple layers to keep hackers at bay. Cybercriminals are experts in finding new vulnerabilities and figuring out new ways to exploit them. Partnering with a SOC services provider is as an effective, affordable way to combat this ever-present threat.

Hone Your Focus

Once you decide to offer SOC services, the question becomes whether to work directly with a vendor or opt for the two-tier system with an MSSP as your direct supplier. The two-tier approach is likely the better option for smaller MSPs serving the SMB market. With an MSSP partner managing the security side of your offerings, you are better able to tailor the services to the needs of smaller customers. While doing so, you as an MSP can still focus primarily on your areas of expertise.

The cyberthreat landscape changes constantly, making it tough for service providers to keep up with the latest threats and how to defeat them. Having the option to work with an MSSP and leverage SOC services makes it easier to deliver the security services that will ultimately protect your customers from cyberattacks. The better the protection you provide, the stronger your relationship with the customer and the more likely you will retain their business over the long haul. There is simply no downside to shoring up your security business with SOC.

Jim Hansen is vice president, Products and Security, SolarWinds, parent of the SolarWinds MSP business division. Read more SolarWinds guest blogs here.