Why you should partner with a cybersecurity provider

Providers can help protect your network, data and assets

by Chris Yates, Senior Lead Content Strategist, AT&T

As you guide your business into the realm of digital transformation and virtualization, you face significant challenges. Perhaps the most urgent of these is cybersecurity.

What’s the best way for you defend your network, data, and devices? Many organizations are coming to the same conclusion: teaming with a provider is the best way for them to help overcome four big challenges to protecting their network, data, and assets.

Challenge 1: C-suite paralysis and blind spots

Why do executives delay or overlook key cybersecurity issues?

It’s the same reason any of us tend to put off dealing with vexing problems: human nature. Cost, complexity, and a sense of chaos can cause action-paralysis for many executives of small-to-midsize businesses. Leadership can feel overwhelmed and not know where to turn.

For larger enterprises – with bigger budgets and more seasoned IT teams – the C-suite finds themselves facing their own challenges: blind spots. An enterprise’s own IT and security teams must keep pace with the terrifyingly rapid evolution of bad actors and digital dangers. They may think they are on top of things, but in many instances, they may unknowingly allow gaps in their armor, only to discover them after a breach.

“The C-suite still has a significant lack of understanding of cybersecurity basics,” says Chuck Brooks, Adjunct Faculty at Georgetown University in the Graduate Applied Intelligence Program for Risk Management. “It’s after the fact, after they’ve been breached, that the board actually does something about it – and that’s true in even some of the largest companies.”

Whether yours is a small, medium, or large business, security providers and consultants can play key roles in managing your cybersecurity. And that’s a great way to handle the complexity and chaos of establishing a stronger cyberdefense.

Challenge 2: Personnel shortages

Whether or not you have the funding and resources to implement a full cybersecurity program – or just pieces of one – businesses of all sizes are running into a problem: talent shortages.

“Because of the talent shortages in the cybersecurity field, not every company will find a strong set of security personnel (in house) to help build strong controls and policies,” says Exa Whiteman, AVP of Global Security Services for AT&T.

Providers can help fill that gap. Plus, providers can give you access to some of the brightest minds in the field. Bringing in an external security consultancy team can help you create the right strategic fit for your unique environment

Remember, choosing a provider for cybersecurity is not an all-or-nothing proposition. You can choose to manage some of your security processes and offload your response capabilities and monitoring management to a security provider. Through this hybrid model, you and the provider can work together to formulate a response when a breach occurs and can find ways to help stop it from happening again.

Challenge 3: Time and money

Budget, of course, is a constant pressure. Investing security dollars in systems and teams that provide that best outcomes and ROI makes the most sense. Beyond budgets, time is of the essence when it comes to cybersecurity. The faster you can create a plan to fortify your digital and data defenses, and implement the plan, the better.

“Companies should rely on a provider that has a greater breadth of knowledge that they can apply to the company’s overall security,” Whiteman says.

A provider will plan and roll out a cybersecurity strategy affordably and efficiently. They’ll be able to pivot quickly to sudden developments and emergencies. And they can offer access to data and information that is outside of a client’s networks. Overall, they can provide a bigger view of the digital landscape to help you be better prepared on all fronts.

Challenge 4: Third parties – vendors and supply chain

Okay, so let’s say that you tend to your own security issues and you feel you’re in a good spot for everything you can control. But what do you do about the cybersecurity weak spots you have no control over? What do you do to shore up your cybersecurity when it comes to third parties, like vendors and touchpoints along the supply chain?

Did you know that 85% of companies share access to their data with business partners, but only 28% of companies have security standards for sharing that data? (Source: The Future of Agility in Business Study Series: Agility Foundations, 2016.)

  • Vendors: Vendors are likely to have different tools, technologies, and operating systems. This can cause conflicts where your networks intersect. This can lead to an increase in data breaches. Cybersecurity providers can help you work closely with your vendors to explore how to resolve such conflicts quickly and successfully.
  • Supply chain: When it comes to the supply chain, you will have to establish which suppliers can access particular datasets, at what level, and whether the suppliers have suitable security processes in place. You will also need a contracted list of security expectations forthe supplier and an initial and ongoing review of the protections that the supplier already has in place.

“Organizations should look at what data they’re sharing with third parties and the risk associated with that data,” says Todd Waskelis, assistant vice president of cybersecurity solutions at AT&T. "Then they can establish and enforce what type of controls need to be in place to protect the data.”

Team with a provider to enhance your cybersecurity strategy

Investing in cybersecurity is a must for every business. And many executives are finding it more effective in terms of cost and results to outsource this responsibility to providers and consultants, relying on their expertise to design and implement solutions.

“Not to take advantage of a provider or consultant from the very start is almost negligence,” says Brooks. “You’ll come across issues that will be after the fact – and you’ll be doing reputation repair instead of focusing on cybersecurity.”

Effective cybersecurity is a win for the enterprise, and a loss both for bad actors and for security-naive competitors that are held back by archaic infrastructures and outdated mindsets. Recognize that security providers and consultants are an invaluable resource for you as the threat landscape evolves.

Dig deeper into cybersecurity

Our latest cybersecurity report, "AT&T Cybersecurity Insights Volume 7: Cybersecurity for today’s digital world." outlines an approach to edge-to-edge security for companies to consider as they build their digital transformation roadmaps.