IT Security Outsourcing Models – II

in this post i will talk about what are the various paths i have seen customers walk when it comes to outsourcing security operations.

outsourcing security infrastructure monitoring with service provider’s tools & processes

many IT functions will outsource monitoring only activities. the service provider will bring in their tools and associated processes to perform monitoring of security event logs and also monitoring the health security infrastructure like firewalls, IDS, VPN etc. in a pure monitoring only engagements, service providers are usually responsible for event log aggregation, analysis (in some cases use analytical tools like SIEM etc) and alerting the customer’s retained security teams on detection of an event of interest.

the customer’s team is then responsible for carrying out further analysis of the tickets and do necessar change and configuration management as required. the maintenance of the security infrastructure is also the responsibility of the customer’s retained security ops team.

in most of the cases, to bring in effeciency, improvement in response time and SLA based services and to bring economies of scale, the service provider normally would use a multi tenant tool set for event monitoring and analysis. on detection of an event which requires customer’s attention, the service provider can:-

  • open tickets on service provider’s ticketing tool. the customer retained security ops team has an interfact into this tool.
  • open tickets on customer’s ticketing tool, the service provider’s team needs to have an interface into the customer’s ticketing tool.
  • or in some cases, have a bi-directional interface between service provider’s and customer’s ticketing tools.

if this is a total outsourcing engagement, this decision is simplified since the service provider will be responsible for the entire IT function so the choice of trouble ticketing tools is pretty much straight forward.

now, in a discreet outsourcing engagement, this get little complicated. usually the service aggregator would want the outsourced security function to use the single ticketing tools being used by rest of the service providers. this can put some pressure on the outsourced security service provider to realign their internal delivery processes to accomodate this requirement.

models that can be explored are as follows:-

  • service provider’s multi tenant (shared) tools and multi tenant (shared) delivery teams – should be the cheapest model, financially.
  • Customer’s already bought/developed toolset and service provider’s delivery team dedicated for the customer- basically out-tasking and not exactly outsourcing (usually explored by BFSI segment)
  • service provider’s multi-tenant (shared) tools and a dedicated delivery team for the customer – dedicated team increases the cost of this model.
  • service providers’s provisions dedicated toolset and a dedicated delivery team – should be the most expensive model (usually explored by BFSI segment)

again, one of the areas that requires attention is the incident management process. what are the expectations from the service provider and how does the hand off happen between the outsourced and the retained teams is a matter that needs to be thought through in detail.

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2 Responses

  1. You have very well discussed about outsourcing security operations. Thanks for the post.

  2. Thank you for your comments.

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