Blog Post February 1, 2024

4 Factors to Consider Before Building vs. Buying MDR Services

By: Brittany Holmes, Corporate Communications Manager 

When it comes to implementing a Managed Detection and Response solution, organizations often face the dilemma of choosing between building a Security Operations Center (SOC) in-house or buying a pre-existing Managed Detection and Response (MDR) solution from a vendor. The MDR market has witnessed rapid growth due to cyber threats becoming increasingly sophisticated. As a result, organizations recognize the need to ramp up their security operations by adopting MDR services that combine threat intelligence, advanced detection tools, and around-the-clock monitoring. 

Cybercriminals are increasingly developing advanced attack strategies and techniques, making it critical for all organizations to have some form24x7 coverage. Proactive threat detection, continuous monitoring, and incident response are essential components of cybersecurity, ensuring the protection of valuable assets and maintaining customer trust. 

The decision between buying and building an MDR solution should not be taken lightly, as it could significantly affect your organization’s overall cybersecurity posture and operational efficiency. There are crucial factors that need to be carefully considered before making such a decision, including the organization’s objectives and needs, budget, team expertise, technology, and availability.  

4 Factors to Consider Before Building a SOC vs. Buying MDR 

  1. Cybersecurity Budget:

    There is a common misconception that working with an MDR vendor is more expensive compared to building an in-house SOC. However, when evaluating the total cost, it becomes clear that building in-house is often more costly. It is important to consider the affordability of various components, such as equipment, software, staffing, and ongoing maintenance. In addition, outsourcing to a trusted MDR vendor can prove to be cost-effective in the long run. Breaking down the expenses can often reveal additional expenses that can add up to a higher total cost to build in-house.  

    While focusing on building your SOC, organizations may divert internal resources from core business activities, leading to potential opportunity costs. Additionally, building an in-house capability takes time and does not happen overnight, so during this time, it may be difficult to detect threats. By buying an MDR solution from a trusted MDR provider, organizations can quickly implement a robust security posture without the associated time and opportunity costs of building internally.

    Ask yourself: What costs do I need to consider for buying vs. building an MDR solution? 

  2. Security Team Expertise: 

    When considering the implementation of an MDR, organizations should carefully assess their current team’s expertise and determine where their resources and time should be spent. Suppose your organization already has an internal team of cybersecurity professionals. In that case, it may be more beneficial for them to focus on other security operations tasks rather than constantly monitoring the environment and filtering through alerts.  

    Outsourcing the MDR to a trusted vendor can provide a ready-made team of experts in addition to a threat research team, to manage security operations efficiently, allowing the internal team to allocate their time and resources to other important cybersecurity tasks. This approach can help organizations optimize their resources and ensure that the expertise of their internal team is utilized effectively.

    Ask yourself: What expertise is required for an SOC? Do I currently have a team? And where do they need to spend their time? 

  3. Available Cybersecurity Technology:

    The cybersecurity landscape is dynamic, with threat actors constantly evolving their techniques. Organizations that choose to build an in-house SOC must allocate resources for research and development to stay updated on vulnerabilities, emerging threats, and industry best practices. This includes investing in threat intelligence feeds, attending conferences, participating in information-sharing communities, and conducting regular assessments and audits. Such ongoing investments are necessary to ensure that the in-house SOC remains effective and relevant.

    In contrast to MDR vendors, they are built to help organizations take command of their security operations and compliance without the additional need for expertise. Working with an MDR vendor, you should expect consistent updates, new technologies, and innovations that evolve with the current threat landscape.  

    Regardless of the chosen approach, organizations must invest in technology to build and maintain an in-house SOC effectively. This investment includes maintaining and tuning rules, managing the technology, and ensuring seamless integration with existing infrastructure.

    Ask yourself: What technology do I have currently, and what will I need to stay updated with current threats? 

  4.  IT Stack Scalability:

    Planning for scalability in your SOC should include adapting to evolving cybersecurity threats and accommodating your business’s expanding needs. This involves assessing the size and scope of your SOC and determining the necessary resources, such as the number of employees and tools, to support its growth. 

    When it comes to scalability, building an in-house SOC may limit your options. It requires additional investments in recruiting and training staff and acquiring new tools as the business evolves. Additionally, managing the increasing amount of data ingested can become cost prohibitive.

    On the other hand, opting for MDR service providers can offer flexible pricing that allows you to adjust your security resources and requirements as needed. They can help you scale your MDR to handle more data ingestion without incurring excessive costs. 

    Ask yourself: What scalability and flexibility does my growing business need?   

Buying vs. Building an MDR Solution? 

When considering whether to buy or build an MDR solution, it is crucial to start by outlining the ideal solution and assessing the availability of resources in-house. If building is viable, evaluating the time it will take to complete the project and ensuring it aligns with the desired go-live window is important. It is also important to find an MDR solution that can grow and scale with your organization as you build it. However, if building is not feasible within the desired timeframe or at all, exploring MDR providers that can deliver a solution that closely aligns with the ideal one is advisable. The decision between building vs. buying should be seen as a flexible approach to achieving the desired outcome based on your organization’s current circumstances. 

Stay Informed

Subscribe to Adlumin’s blog series and gain access to actionable advice and step-by-step guides from cybersecurity experts.