How to compare cybersecurity offerings to find the right partner

You already know that cybercriminals are targeting your business — you recognize the scale of the threat and what needs to be done to combat it. And if you’re like most company owners and managers, that means working with a competent, dedicated cybersecurity partner.

“To win a war, you better join forces with like-minded allies, something that unfortunately may not be considered at all by the entities under attack, but has proven to be a successful strategy for cybercriminals.” — Forbes

Finding an IT partner to provide managed cybersecurity services is easier said than done. The $173B security market is saturated. And with so much at stake — your data, your customer’s information, your business’s reputation — you can’t afford to get it wrong. Here’s how to compare cybersecurity offerings to find the right partner.

Create an evaluation criteria

The first step in comparing and contrasting potential cybersecurity partners is coming up with standardized criteria. The set of features most important to your business will depend on your industry, scope, and budget. Here are some to get you started:

  • Comprehensive solution. The partner’s cybersecurity solution must, first and foremost, be comprehensive. It should fill all vulnerability gaps firm-wide.
  • Effective. Security is not a product or set-and-forget outcome, which can make quantifying and qualifying its effectiveness difficult. That being said, the various tools, strategies, policies, and practices offered by an IT company must balance protection and benefit and cost.
  • Practical. Best practices, controls, and countermeasures introduced in the name of cybersecurity will likely have an impact on productivity. It’s crucial that initiatives are carefully screened to ensure staff can continue operations as normal.
  • Cost. When it comes to running a small- to medium-sized business, every dollar counts. Budget is, for many, one of the leading factors that influence decision-making. Do keep in mind, however, that while cybersecurity isn’t necessarily a growth-driving investment, the alternative is a high-risk environment that could see your business wiped out altogether.
  • Industry experience. Does the managed cybersecurity services provider have experience in your particular industry? This is an especially important question for those in highly regulated sectors.

Does a one-size-fits-all solution work?

Once you have prioritized your evaluation criterion, it’s time to begin comparing potential security vendors. Now, the next question: Should you opt for an out-of-the-box, one-size-fits-all solution? Or, should you work with a provider that customizes their offerings?

This is a vital consideration. What might work for a larger company could be total overkill for a smaller one — overkill that results in wasted expenditure. Similarly, solutions designed for small- to medium-sized firms may not scale effectively across complex organizations. So, if you come across a catalog of security services with a fixed price, know that you could be compromising on customizability. Alternatively, a fully customized offering may not be necessary for your business, again resulting in wasted resources.

Am I getting what I pay for?

As mentioned, cost is always a leading factor. But just as you wouldn’t shop around for the cheapest heart surgeon, you shouldn’t necessarily opt for the least expensive security provider. But, while cost does matter, avoid the following mistakes:

  • Don’t assume that the quality of service and cost are closely correlated. Cybersecurity providers sit on a broad spectrum of quality and capability — you might get what you pay for, and you might not.
  • Avoid the temptation to sort vendor proposals by cost and biasing your decision toward the cheapest solution. Typically, you aren’t comparing apples and oranges. It’s about uncovering the product and service that meets your criteria the closest.

Making the right choice for your business

It’ll take a bit of research, but by sticking with your list of priorities, striking a balance between customization and cost-effectiveness, and working with a provider with an excellent reputation, you can mitigate risk and protect your business against increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threats.