Automated Cybersecurity Risk Assessment Transforms Security Management for MSSPs

More than 80% of organizations experienced a data breach in 2022, according to the latest IBM’s Data Breach Report, and we’re on a record pace (again) with cybersecurity breaches in 2023. Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) have become frequent targets because a successful breach can open the door to customers downstream.

The job of managing security is too big to rely on manual log checks and basic triggers. MSSPs must employ automation to drive a continuous cybersecurity risk assessment process to secure data and customers.

MSSP Challenges with Traditional Risk Assessments

With the rise of automated risk assessments, traditional risk assessments are no longer effective. With the constant evolution of cyber attack methods and emerging threats, MSSPs need a more dynamic and responsive way to manage security for their clients.

Traditional risk assessments are subjective, time-consuming, and labor-intensive. They are a point in time opinion of risk based on policy, governance, vulnerability management, and compliance checklists.   Manual reviews are also inconsistent and subjective risk evaluations.

Security teams also tend to rely on known threats using signature databases but may struggle to keep up with evolving threats. Traditional risk assessment often lacks real-time threat intelligence. Perhaps that’s one reason why it takes an average of 197 days to discover breaches. That’s a long time for threat attackers to have access to your systems and, potentially, your customer’s networks or data.

The closest traditional risk assessments get to operations is evaluating a client’s vulnerability management. Typical operations teams only know what they are catching…not what they are missing. By taking a threat-based approach, we can identify what is being caught and, more importantly, what is being missed, where, and why so that the assessment team can deliver new insights into the actual performance of the program. Security teams also suffer from alert fatigue and traditional risk assessments will miss warning signs and be unable to identify causes.

How Automated Threat Testing Improves Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

By automating testing against emulated threats, SightGain reveals your client’s actual performance against threats. The details and the aggregate insights show what is being caught and what is being missed. Controls, investments, alternatives, and risks can be analyzed in a much more direct way, giving security teams insights into what needs to be improved.

Benefits of Adopting Automated Risk Assessment for MSSPs

There are significant benefits of adopting automated risk assessment for MSSPs with the biggest one being the most obvious: improving cybersecurity defenses for their clients.

Automated risk assessments improve efficiency and provide a clear path to enhance the actual security posture for their clients. This efficiency reduces breaches and does it more cost-effectively. As MSSPs grow, automation can scale to accommodate a growing client base in ways that traditional risk assessments would be unable to handle.

Other benefits include:

  • Segmenting and prioritizing risks: An important component of risk assessment is prioritization. When you can automatically prioritize risks, you can allocate resources more effectively to focus on the most important areas.
  • Proactive identification of exposure: Rather than wait for threat actors to attack, MSSPs deploying risk assessment automation can uncover areas that need improvement, such as security controls, configurations, network infrastructure, and other threat vectors.
  • Standardization: Many breaches occur because of inconsistent security policies or human error in applying configurations. Automated risk assessment force standardization by flagging unknown gaps and inconsistent security policies.
  • Responding to incidents: Testing against actual threats also forms the basis of incident response (IR) performance. Knowing the potential risk and impact, MSSPs can develop and manage better IR processes, business continuity, and disaster recovery plans.
  • Automating compliance: Automated risk assessments can provide evidence of compliance and performance for technical controls, thus saving the security staff from having to complete compliance work that can be answered via security operations. 

Automated risk assessments demonstrate an MSSPs commitment to the security and protection of client assets. This is essential to developing long term trust with clients.

Key Components of an Automated Risk Assessment Solution

To be effective, automated risk assessment solutions for MSPs must include several key components.

Threat Emulation

Threat emulation simulates realistic attacks using real-world tactics. SightGain can safely initiate threat emulations within the production environment with tools analysts use every day. The SightGain platform measures responses throughout your systems and recommends actionable solutions for areas that need improvement.

Integration with Tech Stack

Risk assessments need to integrate with existing security tools and platforms. The best systems will allow you to streamline your cybersecurity tools and assess threats within a single platform. As such, your solution should be able to talk to other security tools in your tech stack and collate data across a wide variety of sources, such as system logs, orchestration and automation platforms, config files, security event feeds, ticketing systems, etc.

Customizable Analytics and Risk Scoring

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are key to detecting anomalies and potential threats and assigning risk scores. By regularly assessing their performance against potential threats, automated risk assessment tools can analyze historical patterns against the behavior of threat actors against business functions to calculate risk scores and prioritize risks for mitigation. Since there is not yet a universally used risk assessment standard, these need to be adopted for the context of the organization and needs of the client’s business.

Another key to effective cybersecurity risk assessment automation is the ability to scale solutions as the business grows and customize requirements based on client preferences, industry requirements, and risk tolerances. AI-enhanced solutions can not only scale, but react faster to emerging threats.

Real-time Threat Intelligence

When you consider that nearly 560,000 new pieces of malware are detected every day, staying on top of emerging threats with real-time intelligence is essential. Security risk assessment automation can identify attack patterns that align with the latest threats and help clients prioritize which ones to test and which ones may have the most impact

Assessing Monitoring and Alerting Capabilities

MSSPs provide value by continuously monitoring and alerting their clients to threats. MSSPs must frequently test their monitoring and alerting capabilities to ensure there are not unknown coverage gaps for their services or in their customer’s environment. SightGain provides early warning signals to enable MSSPs to take decisive action to prevent breaches and mitigate damage.

Compliance Mapping

Risk assessment solutions must also include the ability to map identified risks to relevant compliance standards. This helps provide assurance that any gaps in compliance are addressed effectively. Mapping a security testing automation framework to standards, such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF), ISO standards, and industry-specific requirements, is crucial to proving and documenting compliance.

Transforming Cybersecurity Risk Assessments

Automated threat testing has played a transformative role in cybersecurity risk assessments. MSSPs must leverage modern risk assessment technology to differentiate and grow their business.

MSSPs have a special responsibility to protect their client’s assets. A breach of MSSP client data can lead to lost revenue, impact reputations, and lead to a significant loss of trust (and business). Grow your business and protect your clients’ resources by embracing automation for better security management.

The SightGain platform is built for MSSPs and cybersecurity consultants to automate cybersecurity assessments. With SightGain’s suite of tools, managed security service providers can automate assessments, evaluate the performance of customer security, and provide data-backed recommendations for improvement.

As a multi-purpose MSSP solution, the SightGain threat exposure management platform collects empirical evidence to generate objective measures of security performance — giving you a more accurate and reliable assessment of your customer’s security posture than ever before.