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What are the pros and cons of outsourcing IT security?

Companies are facing increased costs when maintaining an internal security group. Outsourcing IT security has its advantages, but there are some challenges to keep in mind.

Managing the security of a business's applications and data is a touchy subject. After all, the more digitized a business gets, the more it relies on safeguards to keep sensitive information and intellectual property away from those who seek to find it. As a result, the traditional method of ensuring data security is being held to the proper standard is to hire an internal security staff whose sole purpose is to develop and enforce a security policy tailored to the business's needs.

That said, it's not news to anyone that highly skilled data security professionals are both expensive and difficult to retain. The data security market is simply too hot. Therefore, many companies have begun looking at outsourcing IT security by allowing a third-party managed security service provider (MSSP) to handle data security services on the company's behalf.

The advantages of doing so are plentiful. For one, MSSPs are more likely to have seasoned data security professionals on their teams. Second, because a security service provider manages multiple organizations, it can draw from that institutional knowledge to create and enforce a suitable security policy. Finally, it's possible the cost of outsourcing security to a third party will result in lower expenses, especially considering costs associated with maintaining and supporting an internal security staff.

Outsourcing IT security comes with drawbacks

That said, one must also consider the drawbacks of using managed security services. Relying on an MSSP to secure sensitive information is often seen as a major risk. Most organizations are simply more comfortable relying on their own staff to do so. Diminished visibility and lack of accountability can also be concerns. Also, you must understand that a MSSP works with multiple organizations. Thus, you may find that communication and responsiveness is not as strong when outsourcing IT security.

In the end, there really is no right or wrong answer when evaluating your data security strategy. If recent trends are any indication, more businesses seem to be frustrated in their attempts to have enough security staff on hand to handle the job internally. If the organization has already determined that applications and data can be sufficiently managed by third parties in public clouds, it's not much more of a leap to outsource data security.

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