How to choose between outsourced vs in-house cybersecurity

December 2, 2022

Every business, regardless of size, can be subject to a cyber threat. In fact, according to Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report, a whopping 61% of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) experienced a cyberattack in 2021.1 That reality drives home the importance of having strong practices for your organization’s security operations.

Security operations is the part of the IT department that’s responsible for monitoring, detecting, investigating and responding to a wide range of cyber threats. The goal, of course, is to protect your corporate environment — everything from the cloud to remote devices and endpoints — from security intrusions and data breaches.

When it comes to enabling the ideal mix of people, process and technology for your organization’s security operations, the first decision you’ll need to make is if you should build it in house or outsource it to a third-party vendor. Here are some strategic considerations to help you navigate this important decision.


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Outsourcing Considerations

Benefits of Outsourcing Cybersecurity

As market research has shown, 48% of organizations are choosing to outsource security services as their preferred approach to enable the maximum benefits, and there are a lot of good reasons for moving in that direction.2

  • Cost efficiency. With outsourcing you avoid the expense of hiring talent and acquiring and managing security tools, which gives you greater financial efficiency for your security operations. This approach also provides predictable pricing for you to plan and forecast your annual security budget.
  • Scalability. As your company grows and your needs change from one year to the next, outsourcing makes it easy to tap into your vendor’s resources that are “at the ready” to scale and meet your new requirements. You can also make business changes more rapidly through this approach, knowing your security vendor is in place to support you.
  • Level of expertise. Security vendors (and especially those with a trusted reputation) staff up their service team with cybersecurity practitioners who have well-established and seasoned pedigrees. This gives you an immediate team of security experts who have the experience and know-how to safeguard your organization.
  • Quick setup. Partnering with a security provider gives you quick entry-to-market and alleviates the time, cost, staffing and maintenance entry barriers. In short, you should be able to go quickly from signing the contract to securing your organization.

Challenges with Outsourcing Cybersecurity

For all of its many benefits, outsourcing can also introduce some challenges, so it’s important to be aware of these as you make your decision on how to best enable your organization’s security operations.

  • Less control and customization. Outsourcing security gives your vendor the steering wheel of managing things for your company, so, by definition, you’re handing over that control. While that’s generally a good thing, it can pose a challenge if your organization is one that needs greater control and customization.
  • Varied response times. Keep in mind that your vendor is supporting several companies, so your response times can vary depending on the severity of an issue and when it occurs — like on a long holiday weekend, for example. Make sure you understand the vendor’s SLAs for response times so you know what to expect.
  • Higher long-term costs. On the financial side of things, you may incur higher costs over the long run with outsourcing. It’s a good idea to keep your eyes on the balance sheet each year to ensure the outsourcing approach still makes the most economic sense for your company.

In-House Considerations

Benefits of In-House Cybersecurity

Building your own in-house cybersecurity team can be a very rewarding endeavor, and pursuing this path provides several benefits:

  • Greater control. When you design, build and manage your company’s security operations, you can shape every aspect so that it perfectly suits your organization’s needs. That hands-on control also makes it easier to make adjustments to support your company’s changing needs.
  • Increased understanding of your business operations. At its core, security operations serves as a function to enable the business to operate safely while reducing the exposure to security risks. Running your security in house will give you a deeper understanding of the various functions the business requires to operate so that your security practices can be a strong business enabler.
  • Reduced response time. When there’s a security incident, a speedy response is of the utmost importance. The great thing about having an in-house security team is that you can immediately take an all-hands-on-deck approach for managing incident response efforts if you get hit by malware or another threat.

Challenges with In-House Cybersecurity

  • Higher costs. Insourcing your security capabilities requires hiring staff with expertise to oversee your 24/7 operations, and for your budget, you’ll also need to factor in the costs for investing in modern security technologies. You’ll need to plan for these collective costs if you choose to run your security operations in house.
  • Building a team. Hiring and retaining seasoned cybersecurity practitioners is not keeping pace with demand. This isn’t surprising when the global cybersecurity workforce is experiencing a massive 2.72 million shortfall of skilled workers. Yet, with 82% of organizations reporting they have a slight to significant shortage of cybersecurity staff to prevent and troubleshoot security issues, finding resources to staff your team is likely to present a challenge.3
  • Managing operations. Managing your in-house security operations is not a nine-to-five job. Attacks often hit after hours and on the weekends, so you’ll need a team that’s available and on call 24/7. And because security is a business enabler, it can’t operate in a silo. You’ll need to navigate the inner workings of supporting multiple departments, stakeholders and employees in the scope of your security practice.

Outsourcing and In-House: A Hybrid Approach

When companies are choosing between outsourcing vs insourcing security operations, many identify aspects from each approach that they find appealing. For example, a company with a small in-house team might want to maintain a level of hands-on control while relying on an outsourced vendor to overlay with 24/7 monitoring and oversight.

This has given rise to companies pursuing a third approach for security operations: the hybrid model. Hybrid security operations leverages the cyber skills of in-house practitioners and those of an outsourced partner to meet the end-to-end needs for managing security. Within the hybrid model, the various security activities are distributed across the in-house team and the security services partner to create a single security operation. This approach works well with defined KPIs and SLAs and generates real success for companies through its collaborative and flexible approach.

Which model should you adopt?

Outsourcing, insourcing or the hybrid approach: which option is right for your business? As with many strategic cybersecurity decisions, the right approach is to find the balance that best suits your organization. Also, keep in mind that while one approach might be your clear winning preference today, you may find that switching to a different model provides a better fit in the future. The good news is that you have plenty of options.

As you assess your best path forward, consider CrowdStrike as a trusted partner to support your needs. With CrowdStrike’s managed cybersecurity, CrowdStrike Falcon® Complete, you get a team of security experts dedicated to securing your business for guaranteed protection backed by the industry’s strongest breach prevention warranty.

Speak with a cybersecurity expert today to learn more.


1 Verizon. Data Breach Investigations Report. 2022.

2 (ISC)2. Cybersecurity Workforce Study. 2021.