These days, businesses have a range of cybersecurity solutions available to them. But having options available isn’t the challenge — it’s finding a solution that’s effective. That means cost-effective as well as effective at securing your assets.
In this post, we’re going to be covering four of the most popular cybersecurity solutions available in 2022: MSSP, SIEM, [MDR], and SOCaaS, looking at their individual strengths and weaknesses. This way, you can find the solution that’s most effective for your business.
While these four cybersecurity solutions are not directly comparable, organizations will likely find that one approach is better suited to their needs.
What is an MSSP?
Short for Managed Security Service Provider, MSSPs provide a cybersecurity solution that leaves most of the securing up to a third party. Unlike other third-party tools, MSSPs are managed by the business providing them — MSSPs are designed to augment or replace a business’s internal cybersecurity team.
This has the benefit of bringing expertise to your cybersecurity department (or lack thereof) and can often allow businesses to deploy a more mature and comprehensive security program with minimal risk and within budget. However, it also comes with the drawback of being slower and more specialized than other options that provide broad and automated coverage.
The benefits of MSSP
As mentioned, the core benefit of a MSSP is that it brings cybersecurity expertise to your business. You don't need to hire new personnel, perform training, pay salaries, and so on.
Instead, the MSSP handles all of this and more. They'll monitor your network for you, spot and address issues, and make sure that your network and data are secured.
This hands-off approach keeps things as simple as possible for your business. That can be advantageous for businesses at various scales and especially tempting for smaller businesses that can't afford to bring experts on as full-time staff.
The challenges of MSSP
Because an MSSP is hands-off, it tends to lower — or at least stagnate — the level of cybersecurity education at your workplace. This can be a problem as a lack of know-how can sometimes lead to an increase in cybersecurity threats that do manage to get through.
Likewise, traditional MSSP solutions can be slow to respond to threats. That's because they're managed manually and often alongside other businesses (i.e., the MSSP's other clients).
The result is that you'll likely take some damage from a cybersecurity breach before it's controlled by the MSSP. It's a trade-off that, for many businesses, simply isn't worth it.
Another challenge of the MSSP approach is that enterprises might contract infrastructure and security management services separately. This is often inefficient, as infrastructure and security management can be delivered more efficiently when they are integrated. In addition, security tends to be “baked in” for most modern technologies, meaning that most infrastructure services providers can do security management as part of their infrastructure management service.
What is SIEM?
The next popular type of cybersecurity solution to consider is SIEM. Short for Security Information and Event Management, SIEM is a technology that combines two cybersecurity tools into a single package.
Those two tools are SIM and SEM. The first, SIM, focuses on monitoring cybersecurity information tied to your business, while the second, SEM, focuses on monitoring events.
When combined, you get data reporting and logging and, occasionally, cybersecurity threat detection for flagged events. It's not necessarily the most robust form of cybersecurity protection, but more so a solid defense coupled with reporting and analytics features that are useful for auditing.
The benefits of SIEM
The primary strength of SIEM technology is that it’s great at ingesting and storing everything. You can also use SIEM as an auditing and compliance tool, making it popular among businesses looking for a simple solution for meeting cybersecurity regulations.
Beyond that, SIEM is a valuable tool for collecting information and understanding how attacks happen from a forensic perspective. It also provides some basic security features which work to keep your network and digital assets safe.
As technology develops, SIEM is seeing an AI transformation with new, in-built automations, which is key to keeping systems safe in 2022. Unlike manual options (like traditional MSSPs), SIEM is able to respond to potential threats instantly.
The challenges of SIEM
While SIEM is very good at what it does, it does have limitations.
SIEM stores a lot of data due to its dual function as an auditing tool. With all of that data storage comes high cost, making this one of the most expensive (and therefore least cost-effective) options available. Many medium-sized businesses will find SIEM uneconomical from a cost vs benefit perspective.
Ultimately, the effectiveness of a SIEM can be dependent on the level of skill of the team managing it. Not only do you need the skills to analyze the data held in a SIEM, but you will also need the capability to integrate to other tools like Security Orchestration Automation and Response (SOAR) in order to add automated response to a SIEM platform.
What is SOC as a service (SOCaaS)?
An offering provided by a number of MSSPs, SOCaaS is a cybersecurity SaaS solution that provides comprehensive third-party security. SOCaaS — Security Operations Center (SOC) as a service — customers are able to bring cybersecurity talent and expertise to their business without needing to hire new staff.
SOCaaS are intended to be all-encompassing. It covers your entire technology stack, keeping everything protected. SOCaaS also works around your network environment, so no two implementations are going to look exactly alike. Often SOCaaS offerings are built around a SIEM and the monitoring capabilities of a SIEM.
For those who want to outsource their cybersecurity to the experts — with no compromise on coverage — SOCaaS is an excellent option. And since it's cloud-based, there's no need to install any infrastructure. Setup is fast and simple.
The benefits of SOCaaS
The greatest benefit of SOCaaS solutions is their simplicity; it's incredibly straightforward to go from no cybersecurity infrastructure to having a comprehensive SOCaaS system in place.
This can save your business substantial resources — where MSSPs often focus on point solutions, SOCaaS attempts to provide an end-to-end security solution. The level of coverage may however vary significantly between services.
The challenges of SOCaaS
All that said, SOCaaS isn't without its challenges. Firstly, many SOCaaS offerings are based around a specific stack of tools from a single vendor or group. In fact, some SOCaaS offerings would be better described as “Managed SIEM”. Because there is not a universally accepted definition of SOCaaS, the scope of services provided may differ significantly between different offerings. It cannot be taken for granted that a SOCaaS offering will include capabilities like threat detection or response. In some cases the service may confine itself more to the management of tools (like SIEM) than the provision of security outcomes.
What is MDR?
Lastly, there's MDR. MDR is one of the newest cybersecurity services available, acting in many ways as the culmination of the best aspects of other services. Short for Managed Detection and Response, MDR brings cutting-edge technology and human analysts together to elevate your cybersecurity approach— in essence, it’s what happens when an MSSP team upgrades its tooling. While tasks such as security configuration have now moved within the reach of most IT teams, MDR focuses on the difficult tasks which require specialized tooling and skills which are beyond the reach of most organizations.
MDR is a managed service focusing on detection and response, as the name suggests. The single-mindedness of this name helps businesses understand exactly what they are paying for — while other managed services can be far less defined in comparison.
For example, traditional MSSPs are unlikely to investigate anomalies, eliminate false positives, or respond to threats on your behalf. MDR does, so while you may still require an in-house security team, that team can focus on other activities, leaving the 24/7 labor to your MDR.
The benefits of MDR
There are several benefits to using MDR — not least how automated the tools involved can be. There's very little manual intervention and oversight required from your team, as the MDR team handles monitoring and responses on your behalf.
That means threats are detected as soon as they hit your network. They're flagged and evaluated quickly, minimizing your response times. And for the most part, the response required to defuse a threat can be administered directly by the MDR.
And since the tools used to provide MDR are modern, they're equipped to handle modern threats like ransomware and Advanced Persistent Threats or APTs (sophisticated attacks that remain dormant for long periods before attacking your network).
The challenges of MDR
Like all of the solutions on this list, though, MDR does have its drawbacks. The primary drawback is that of scope - MDR is specifically focused on threat detection and response, as its name suggests. You will still need other tools and services to fully address your security requirements, however MDR makes no pretense that you will not.
“MDR Alone” is not entirely comprehensive. You will still need to implement security controls and manage security posture. MDR can however provide insights, based on threats detected, to guide you on how to improve your security controls and posture so that you can reduce your risk of future threats.
MDR powered by XDR
All MDR services depend on underlying tooling. Extended Detection and Response (XDR) provides the closest-fit toolset, enabling all the underlying functions of an MDR service without the need to integrate a range of different tools.
The desired outcomes of XDR and MDR share many similarities — so it’s little surprise that an XDR platform often provides the best underlying toolset for MDR.
For example, the outcomes of XDR are detection and response. The core outcomes of SIEM, on the other hand, relate more to collection, archival, and compliance. For this reason, if a provider uses a SIEM as the underlying toolset for an MDR service, the provider will often still need to add a detection capability and a response capability — typically requiring the integration of a SOAR. At the same time, MDR outcomes do not benefit from the high cost incurred by a SIEM in storing everything for a long period of time.
XDR technology can make MDR teams more efficient and faster to spot, report, and resolve emerging threats. It does so by collating security information from all layers of the environment in one, shared interface. It also performs triage of all threats — reducing manual workload and further enhancing productivity. XDR also incorporates the advanced query tools used by analysts to perform threat hunting. This means that for organizations with their own security analysts, they can have the same sophisticated tools at their fingertips as MDR providers.
Samurai XDR is the only XDR built on a T1 backbone, monitoring over 20% of _the world’s _internet traffic at any given time. Samurai XDR is also vendor-agnostic, so it works on every platform and every system, making it the perfect weapon of choice for outsourced MDR teams.
MSSP vs SIEM vs SOCaaS vs MDR
Before closing out this post, let's summarize the key characteristics of MSSPs, SIEM tools, SOCaaS services, and MDR services to help give you an idea of which solution is best for your business.
- Would you prefer a solution that’s driven by your in-house team or outsourced security experts?
- In-house = SIEM
- Outsourced = MSSP, SOCaaS, and MDR
- Are you looking for truly comprehensive detection and response across your entire IT estate?
- Comprehensive = MDR, especially when the MDR is built using XDR technology
- Do you want a solution that acts on threats on your behalf?
- In MDR, the “R” component provides threat response — although, in a typical MDR service, it is still the client’s responsibility to bring threats to closure.
- Do you want a solution that improves internal cybersecurity knowledge?
- As an in-house tool, SIEM requires internal teams to continuously upskill
- MDR can also deliver an educational element. The onboarding is usually self-service. Insights gained through detections and threat hunts guide clients on how to improve their security posture in order to reduce the number of threats encountered in the future.
- Do you want a solution that has automated features?
- Automation is a necessary part of MDR and XDR together — it forms the “R” component of XDR.
- Is cost-efficiency your most important priority?
- MDR is generally the most cost-efficient options on this list
- The cost-efficiency of SOCaaS may depend on the tools used to provide the service and their underlying cost.
- An MSSP service can also be cost-efficient if it’s integrated. If it’s delivered standalone from an infrastructure management service it can be inefficient.
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