One of the key messages we need to get across to people when it comes to tackling cybersecurity is, “don't try to do everything on your own.” You're not on an island. There are a lot of different materials, companies, and people out there that can help you and educate you. So no matter what you are trying to do, you will always be able to find allies. At SolarWinds MSP, we utilize and leverage third parties where we’re looking for specialized expertise or need additional assistance.
From a managed service provider’s (MSP’s) perspective, imagine you go into a highly regulated power and energy company, providing the IT function for them. You’ll discover they’re governed by NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corporation) and FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission); these are regulations specific to their industry. If you’re not an expert in that industry, you’ll need to find someone to help—it's OK to do this.
If you need help monitoring for security events and you don’t have the staff or the skill set necessary, don’t walk away from the opportunity to partner with a MSSP (managed security service provider) to provide that particular expertise.
You can still maintain control of that environment and be the IT provider for that environment, even if you’re getting outside help. In fact, you're actually being a better provider for that environment if you're going out and getting expertise when it is necessary and needed. We’ve talked about some of the different people and materials out there, but one of the things that people often forget is their vendors. Your vendors can be a great help to you when you have questions and need answers, or when your clients have questions. And remember, it's okay to ask your vendors questions beyond what their product does and see what expertise they can bring to you.
You can also find allies in different places, for example, partnerships with universities and other educational institutions. Universities and university programs are great places to find people and to answer interesting questions and problems. So definitely think about them as an ally in your fight.
On top of this, if you have a genuine incident, in certain cases you may to need to bring in another more experienced third party to work alongside you—for example, if you have a customer under attack, you're going to need to seek out the appropriate support at the appropriate level depending on the type of incident.
In certain situations, you may need to bring in law enforcement, the government, or even the FBI. Any of these would be appropriate to do at certain points in time when you believe that you have a nation-state attack, your systems are under serious attack, or have been breached by a certain entity. I know in the US, the FBI resources are fantastic. They will just talk to you and explain exactly what they see and what they've been doing. They’ll let you know whether it is something they can help with or not.
There is help out there from an education perspective, as well as from a direct incident response perspective. So get help where you think you need it, and don't think you need to do everything on your own. Use other MSPs, use your vendors, use your partners, use government entities, because by reaching out for help when you need it, you’re actually providing better service for your customers.
Tim Brown is VP of Security for SolarWinds MSP. He has over 20 years of experience developing and implementing security technology, including identity and access management, vulnerability assessment, security compliance, threat research, vulnerability management, encryption, managed security services, and cloud security. Tim’s experience has made him an in-demand expert on cybersecurity, and has taken him from meeting with members of Congress and the Senate to the Situation Room in the White House. Additionally, Tim has been central in driving advancements in identity frameworks, has worked with the US government on security initiatives, and holds 18 patents on security-related topics.
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