What’s the best defense against cyber attacks? As the summer continues, the abundance of employees traveling for work can cause vulnerabilities that can be exploited by criminals. Even a single misclick can cause a far-reaching disaster that can cost a company thousands of dollars.

What many enterprises don’t know about cyberattacks is that the effects are frequently not seen right away. When responding to a breach or incursion, it is important to catch it during what’s called “dwell time”. Dwell time is the period after which a cybercriminal has gained limited access to a system as they try to figure out additional vulnerabilities and the best soft target for a coordinated attack.

If a cybercriminal is successful at gaining elevated privilege on a system, they may wait days, weeks, or even months before launching a large scale attack. During this time, they may take the opportunity to drizzle in a payload, which could be a system exploit, a virus, or some other piece of malicious software.

When it comes to responding during this dwell time, it’s important to act as soon as possible. Even wasting minutes can be disastrous. For that matter, many people that work in IT may have some basic cybersecurity tools, but not the expertise necessary to react in a proper manner. This is why the best course of action to handle cyber threats is to hire a qualified managed services company.

Using an external managed services company is much more scalable and cost-efficient than hiring a full time cybersecurity expert. These firms can provide services that match an enterprise’s needs and monitor their infrastructure for potential problems.

That said, enterprises need firms that are able to do one task very well. While a Swiss army knife can be useful in a pinch, it pales compared to an actual knife when it comes to tasks like cooking. Ergo, specialization is important. Enterprises shouldn’t just be looking for a company that hardens security, as this is frequently ineffective. Instead, they should find a firm that knows the security space of their industry and can identify anomalies at a glance. They should also be poised to scale in the event of organizational changes.

When hiring an external firm, a company should be aware of the services that they are gaining. While all companies strive to provide an impeccable image to potential clients, thoroughly vetting possible cybersecurity firms is important. Know the services you will need and ensure they have professionals able to both implement and update them over time. They should also come equipped with the most up to date tools that can monitor activity and deploy solutions on a moment’s notice. This is why dwell time can be problematic for unprepared organizations—if it continues long enough, getting a sense of the timeline and the origin of the incursion becomes difficult, if not impossible.

An external firm is the best way for a company to monitor and shut down incursions. In these cases, it pays to do research and find a firm that provides a managed services package specific to your industry and your organization’s needs. Breaches can happen, but with the right people and the right tools, they don’t have to be large scale disasters.