The struggle to maintain the balance between budget, staff, and required software and security infrastructure remains a feat similar to walking a tightrope. Skimping on any of these areas can hinder the success of your company on one hand, or bankrupt it on the other. That said, employing the security infrastructure necessary to protect sensitive company data, and customer information is no longer a luxury, it’s a “must have,” especially if your company is an industry where regulatory compliance is required. If your organization is like most companies these days, your IT staff is no doubt juggling an increasingly complex security landscape while struggling to stay up-to-date with the latest tools and techniques.

This can add up to an incredible amount of unproductive time. In fact, according to IDC, 35% of organizations spend more than 500 hours a month just reviewing security alerts, and The Ponemon Institute has revealed that some organizations waste a staggering 395 hours per week on average just investigating false positives!

But if you don’t proactively monitor logs for event data and investigate alerts, you could be at greater risk of costly security breaches. Did you know that cyber attacks cost businesses as much as $400 billion annually, according to Lloyd’s of London? In fact, Kaspersky Labs estimates that small-to-medium-sized businesses spend an average of $47,000 on each security breach. That’s money you shouldn’t have to spend.

Meanwhile, you are at the mercy of software vendors as they take their time patching vulnerabilities. Symantec estimates that it took software companies an average of 59 days to create and roll out patches for zero-day threats in 2014—up from 4 days in 2013.

And who’s doing all that important work for you? As your responsibilities have grown, your staff hasn’t necessarily increased with them and you might be finding it difficult to meet your mandated goals with available resources. Up to a third of companies are unable to fill open security jobs, leaving them short-staffed during a time of increasing threat. What you really need is an extension of your IT team who can provide vulnerability management services as well as around-the-clock security monitoring.

The Benefit of Managed SIEM

Without that, how do you manage security technology deployments, monitor alerts 24×7, and stay current on new threats, vulnerabilities, regulations, and tools? Sure, you could try to deploy a SIEM in-house, but you will be disappointed when the total cost of ownership (software license, staffing, consulting and maintenance fees, for example) dwarfs the value received. That’s because SIEMs only allow you to look in the rear-view mirror when something has already happened and don’t protect you proactively. For example, focusing on collecting logs to review after a security incident occurs versus the proactive assessment of information security controls that can reduce your attack surface by identifying and addressing security weaknesses in advance.

Smaller organizations, many of which are already cash-strapped and short on full-time IT personnel, are turning to managed SIEM services because of the mix of engineering expertise, process, and technology that together provide full 24x7x365 protection for a fraction of the cost of purchasing, deploying and maintaining a SIEM in-house.

A final consideration for the small to mid-sized company is the set of processes that will be put in place as part of your security program. Installing a security product or hiring a service provider without having a well-thought-out plan is a sure way to squander resources. Security monitoring should be more than just a reactive firefighting exercise. Look for a solution that uses industry best practices to proactively improve your organization’s security and compliance posture. Finally, be wary of service providers offering the moon for pennies on the dollar. If the deal is too good to be true, it probably is!