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The Fox Guarding the Hen House: The Crucial Role of an Objective Third Party Alongside Your MSSP

Author: SEAN LEE, CISSP, MANAGING DIRECTOR

September 27, 2023

Introduction:

In the realm of cybersecurity, the adage “the fox guarding the hen house” has become all too relevant in today’s threat landscape. Why? Because risk isn’t always what it seems. 

As Managing Director of Summit Security Group, a trusted name in cybersecurity consulting, I’ve witnessed the evolving challenges businesses face in safeguarding their digital assets. While Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) play a vital role, they aren’t enough on their own, and they even pose a liability when used as the one and only source of security support. 

In this blog, we delve into the need for an objective and independent third party working alongside your MSSP, ensuring a comprehensive defense strategy that leaves no room for vulnerabilities.

The Role of the MSSP:

MSSPs have emerged as key allies for businesses aiming to tackle the ever-increasing complexities of cybersecurity. Their expertise in threat detection, incident response, and round-the-clock monitoring provides a crucial layer of defense. However, it’s essential to remember that MSSPs are fundamentally an extension of your own organization. Just as internal employees can sometimes overlook issues or biases due to familiarity, an MSSP might face similar challenges. Hence, the concept of “the fox guarding the hen house” comes into play.

The Pitfalls of Over-Reliance:

Placing the entire responsibility of cybersecurity solely on an MSSP can inadvertently create blind spots. While their capabilities are significant, the absence of an external, unbiased perspective can hinder the identification of potential gaps in the security strategy. The danger lies in assuming that the MSSP, being the specialist, knows and addresses all possible security needs. They don’t. More importantly, they can’t because of their close proximity to the company. However, an external set of independent eyes can bring fresh insights, question assumptions, and uncover latent risks that might otherwise go unnoticed.

The Objective Third Party Advantage:

Enter the objective third party: a cybersecurity consultant who brings an independent viewpoint to the table. Unlike the MSSP, their primary focus isn’t on managing day-to-day security operations but on critically evaluating the effectiveness of the overall strategy, tech stack, and/or operations. Their role involves conducting thorough penetration testing assessments, vulnerability testing, and risk analysis from an outsider’s perspective. This distinct viewpoint can reveal undiscovered vulnerabilities and enhance the efficacy of your cybersecurity measures.

Harmonizing MSSP and Objective Consultation:

The synergy between an MSSP and an objective third party is where true cybersecurity resilience is forged. The MSSP takes care of the operational aspects – rapid response, real-time monitoring, and incident management. Simultaneously, the objective consultant ensures that the strategy aligns with the organization’s risk appetite, industry best practices, and emerging threat landscape. This collaboration not only enhances security but also provides the necessary checks and balances to prevent complacency and avoid conflicts of interest.

Conclusion:

In a world where cyber threats continually evolve, a diversified and well-rounded cybersecurity strategy is paramount. Relying solely on an MSSP, while effective in many aspects, can lead to a false sense of security that puts revenue, relationships, and regulatory compliance in jeopardy.

By incorporating the expertise of an objective third party like Summit Security Group, organizations can bridge the gap between operations and strategy. Remember, the fox guarding the hen house might not always be the best approach – a comprehensive defense requires a team effort that encompasses both operational expertise and independent insights.

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