The Key to Building Cyber Resilience for MSSPs

Posted by: Craig Boyle
December 17, 2023
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Cybersecurity awareness is transforming every aspect of the organizational landscape. Cybersecurity is no longer relegated to security backrooms – it is front and center in the boardroom and the C-suite. To cost-effectively bolster in-house cybersecurity resources and expertise, organizations of all sizes are turning to Managed Security Services Providers (MSSPs). From large enterprises to SMBs, the demand for MSSPs is on the rise – so much so that the global managed security services market is projected to top $46.4 billion by 2025. 

MSSPs stand as an intermediary between cybersecurity vendors and organizations looking to benefit from the latest cybersecurity technologies, services, and expertise. And there are no shortages of guides to choosing an MSSP. Yet there’s one key question that remains largely unasked and unaddressed, in “How to choose an MSSP” articles, by MSSPs themselves, by their customers, and even by cyber-savvy MSSP prospects. It’s a ‘bigger picture’ question that can frankly make MSSPs a little uncomfortable, because it’s hard to answer. The question is: what is your strategy for cyber resilience?

MSSPs and Cyber Resilience

How can MSSPs demonstrate to themselves and their customers that they are on a track to establishing cyber resilience? 

According to NIST, cyber resilience is the ability to prepare for, respond to, recover from and adapt to cyberattacks and cyber incidents that compromise an organization’s security, availability or digital integrity. 

MSSPs generally provide cybersecurity solutions via a portfolio of tools. And this is a solid foundation. Each tool has a valid use case and purpose. But even the strongest portfolio creates noise and distractions without a guiding strategy or framework. Even the best cybersecurity tools can only thwart attacks reactively – unless MSSPs can connect the dots and see how data generated comes together. 

Similarly, automation is a powerful ally for MSSPs. Automating routine tasks and incident response is undeniably powerful. Yet automation alone lacks the contextual nuance and adaptive decision-making that is crucial in complex threat landscapes. 

Even the best portfolio, backed up by the most powerful automation, isn’t the same as a mature cyber resilience program. The reason? Cyber resilience is not just about technology, it’s about processes. It’s about an externally-validated framework.

Continuous Threat Exposure Management – A Framework for Resiliency

One of the biggest challenges in security today is that teams often aren’t even aware of the threats they are up against. They throw efforts in multiple directions, frequently without seeing tangible results. A comprehensive Continuous Threat Exposure Management or CTEM program can help you continually see your attack surface and improve security posture by identifying and remediating potentially problematic areas. This ability to see exposures and their potential to be leveraged within attacks is a key element in gaining the attacker’s point of view.

Establishing a well planned and executed CTEM program helps foster a common language of risk for MSSPs and organizations alike. This means that the level of each exposure becomes clear, and the handful of exposures that actually pose risk among the many thousands that exist can be addressed in a meaningful and measurable way.

One highly effective way to enable a CTEM approach that helps build cyber resiliency is via attack path analysis. This method evaluates the potential routes attackers could take within a network or system. It traces step-by-step sequences from entry points, identifying vulnerabilities and weak links they might exploit. By mapping these paths, it reveals critical points where security measures need reinforcement. 

Essentially, attack path management is a process – a framework that enables organizations to identify potential exposures and the tactics, techniques, and procedures adversaries might leverage to exploit those exposures. It helps preemptively fortify defenses, prioritize patching, and devise targeted strategies to impede or mitigate attacks. Attack path management offers:

  • Proactive Defense – It empowers organizations to recognize vulnerabilities and potential exploit channels before they mature into attacks. This proactive approach helps security teams take preventive actions, mitigating risks before breaches occur. The insights gained through this process facilitate better-informed decision making, as well as keeping budgets aligned with the evolution of the organization’s cyber resilience strategy.
  • Risk Prioritization – By understanding exposures and the various attack paths used to exploit them, organizations can strategically prioritize remediation efforts, focusing on the actual potential impacts of an attack. This approach zooms in on verified attack paths – not predictions made by algorithms. This means remediation resource allocation is based on fact, not speculation. 

Attack path analysis enables critical insights that allow MSSPs to design integrated exposure management services. This approach equips them with a robust framework, ensuring proactive defense, strategic risk prioritization, and evidence-based remediation.

The Bottom Line

In an era where cybersecurity shapes boardroom discussions, the role of MSSPs is increasingly pivotal. Yet even as demand for MSSP expertise skyrockets, an essential question lingers: What about cyber resilience? Beyond tool portfolios and automation, the answer lies in a broader strategy. Attack path analysis is an excellent approach for MSSPs, to both achieve and to quantify their customers’ cyber resilience. This methodology isn’t just about recognizing vulnerabilities; it’s a proactive defense and risk prioritization system. 

Armed with these insights, MSSPs can lead their customers to a cyber-resilient future – a future of proactive defense, precision-managed risks, and remediation rooted in verified fact.

Craig Boyle

Offensive security practitioner, with over 20 years experience. Specializes in attack surface management, attack path analysis, and adversary emulation.

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