Exploring IT Security Outsourcing vs. In-House IT Security

12 Minutes

IT security outsourcing vs. in-house IT security is a subject worth debating, especially if ...

IT security outsourcing vs. in-house IT security is a subject worth debating, especially if you’re looking to hire cybersecurity specialists. Outsourced IT security refers to utilizing the expertise of third-party contractors to support your immediate and often short-term talent acquisition needs. On the other hand, in-house involves onboarding employees on permanent and typically longer-term contracts. 

Despite their differences, outsourcing IT security professionals and hiring talent in-house have pros and cons. Comparing both options' benefits and potential drawbacks is the ideal way to determine which solution best suits your cybersecurity recruitment needs. 

In this guide, we'll highlight the differences between outsourced and in-house IT security before discussing the pros and cons of both. By the end, you'll have a comprehensive overview of which option works best for your business. 

What is outsourcing vs. in-house IT security?

When it comes to the fundamentals of cybersecurity recruitment, businesses have two options to choose from: IT security outsourcing or in-house IT security. Both offer unique advantages and disadvantages that we'll discuss later in this guide and choosing between the two is dependent on the size of your company and your hiring budget. This section will help distinguish the two options and define what is outsourcing vs. in-house IT security.

What is IT security outsourcing?

With the rate and sophistication of cyber-attacks increasing to the point where an attack occurs almost every 39 seconds, it's never been more vital for businesses to take proactive measures to strengthen their IT security. Many of these approaches to combating cyber threats involve acquiring specialist talent with the expertise to do just that. Of course, not all companies have the budget or resources to do this. Thankfully, there is a solution to this - outsourced cybersecurity recruitment.

IT security outsourcing is a hiring service typically used by start-ups and established organizations seeking immediate solutions to their cybersecurity recruitment needs. It involves the process of utilizing the services of third-party certified contract cybersecurity specialists. As opposed to building a team of permanent hires in-house, something we'll discuss later, outsourced IT security harnesses the expertise of professionals on a part-time, temporary or short-term basis. 


These outsourced cybersecurity specialists either work independently as self-employed contractors or on behalf of an IT recruitment agency. Businesses can turn to IT security outsourcing to bring in the talent they require for a set period, whether to support the duration of a specific project or to assist the wider business for several days, weeks, months or even up to a year. 

IT security contractors are typically experienced professionals with a wealth of expertise in the cybersecurity sector. Working for themselves or an agency, they often manage their schedules. They can be called upon at a moment's notice to support a company with its IT security and immediate hiring needs. 

We'll provide a deeper insight into the pros and cons of IT security outsourcing later in this guide, but first, let's highlight the other end of the cybersecurity recruitment spectrum and discuss 'What is in-house IT security?'

What is in-house IT security? 

In-house IT security or permanent cybersecurity recruitment involves building a team of professionals who work exclusively for your business. With in-house, organizations will typically establish a dedicated IT team to tackle any security-related tasks associated with the company’s IT infrastructure. These tasks could include troubleshooting network issues, configuring system firewalls, and supporting the broader business with tech-related problems or queries they have. 

Regarding in-house IT security, you have complete control over the hires you make. You may utilize your internal talent acquisition team to make these hires or turn to a cybersecurity recruitment agency to handle your hiring needs. The key thing here is that once this talent is hired, they will work for your company permanently.

Permanent cybersecurity specialists can respond to security-related issues exclusively for your business. Whether on-site, remotely, or through a hybrid working approach, permanent hires address problems as they occur. Their timely responses and immediate assistance ensure your IT infrastructure runs smoothly year-round and is protected as much as possible from internal and external cyber threats. 

Businesses of varying sizes, from start-ups to multinational corporations, use in-house IT security. Hiring permanent cybersecurity specialists requires a degree of commitment and budget, which an internal HR team or external recruitment firm can significantly help with. It can involve recruiting people with varying experience and expertise, from entry-level talent to senior and executive-level professionals. 

Like IT security outsourcing, in-house IT security has advantages and disadvantages. In the following sections, we’ll explore these in more detail. 

Pros and cons of outsourced vs. in-house cybersecurity

As we’ve mentioned, IT security outsourcing and in-house IT security can be supported by internal hiring teams and through the expertise of specialist cybersecurity recruitment agencies. Outsourced and in-house security have individual benefits, with outsourcing being cost-effective, while in-house allows for more control. However, they also have drawbacks, with outsourcing involving potential communication issues and in-house having potentially higher costs.

In this section, we’ll highlight these various advantages and disadvantages as we explore the pros and cons of outsourced vs in-house cybersecurity. 

Pros and cons of outsourcing IT security

There are several reasons to invest in outsourced IT security, including its cost-effectiveness, specialist expertise and enhanced scalability. However, for your full transparency, it's important to understand IT security outsourcing also comes with some potential drawbacks, from having less control over the talent and the professionals' less knowledge of your organization to possible communication issues. 

This section will go through the pros and cons of outsourcing IT security.

Pros of outsourced IT security

Below is an overview of the pros of outsourcing cybersecurity:

  • Cost-effective Solution

IT security outsourcing can be a more cost-effective solution for businesses requiring cybersecurity specialists who are also conscious of their hiring budget. Unlike permanent employment, cybersecurity contractors are paid for their work rather than an annual salary. Contract workers will have varying rates justified by their experience and expertise. They can be paid hourly, weekly, or monthly or for the predetermined duration of a project.

With outsourced IT, organizations can acquire individual cybersecurity specialists or a team of experts for the specific duration they need and can afford without stretching their budget. For example, you may have a permanent employee on maternity leave. In this scenario, you could bring in an IT security contractor to cover the role whilst your staff member is away.

Contractors or the cybersecurity recruitment agency will also manage the costs associated with pay, insurance, tools and equipment. As this talent is independent workers, you won't be expected to offer the contractor bonuses and benefits as you would a permanent employee.  

  • Specialist Expertise

As mentioned, outsourced cybersecurity specialists are often experienced professionals who have transitioned into contract work after building a portfolio of expertise in the industry. Due to their deep understanding of the industry, they'll be ready to join your business for the duration you require without the need for the typical onboarding and training that can be required when hiring a permanent employee.

With their specialist expertise, these outsourced IT professionals can enter your business to overcome cybersecurity skills gaps or bolster your existing team with alternative and effective approaches to combat cyber threats. 

  • Enhanced Scalability

Your business, budget, and cybersecurity priorities will change over time. Linking back to the cost-effectiveness of outsourced services, with IT security outsourcing, you can grow at your own pace. For example, as a fast-growing start-up, you may begin by acquiring one contractor. As you grow, consider taking on multiple or a team of contract hires. You may even bring all your cybersecurity in-house. 

The enhanced scalability of IT security outsourcing extends to the flexibility of the service. You could bring in your initial contract cybersecurity specialist for a three-month trial. At the end of this trial, you could extend the talent's contract, decide to take on more hires or approach the individual with a full-time contract. 

At the end of the contract, you may want to scale down. It's much easier to part ways with a contractor than with a permanent hire, as you are only tied down to a predetermined contract duration. The cybersecurity recruitment agency or the individual contractor typically handles instances that involve parting ways with your business. 

Cons of outsourced IT security

Here is a list of the primary drawbacks to cybersecurity outsourcing:

  • Less Control

With IT security outsourcing, you may lose control over the talent you acquire and how you handle your data. When you bring a contractor into your business, you will relinquish the responsibility of managing your sensitive data. Putting your company, customer and employee information in the hands of a third party does come with a potential increased risk of a data breach or a scenario where your data is compromised.

If you're considering the option of IT security outsourcing, it's essential to thoroughly scope the market for outsourced IT security experts or partner with a cybersecurity recruitment agency. Doing so can help ensure you're sourcing a reliable contractor who you can trust to keep your data secure.   

  • Loss of Organizational Knowledge

Outsourced cybersecurity specialists may not have the knowledge and understanding of your organization, including your goals and objectives, as your permanent employees have. They may not be fully aware of your approaches towards IT security and could have a different stance opposing your visions. These differences of opinion or miscommunication on approaches to cybersecurity could cause friction between your permanent staff and contractor.

It's essential to fully brief the contractor or cybersecurity recruitment agency sourcing your talent to ensure they know what's expected of them for the duration you need. You should also provide them with an overview of your business, its goals and its approach to IT security. By doing this, you can lay the foundations for a successful relationship, be it short or long-term, with your outsourced IT security professional. 

  • Potential Communication Issues

Communication is key to the functioning of any successful IT team. Ensuring everyone understands the company's goals and individual responsibilities is essential for maintaining a strong security posture. Utilizing IT security outsourcing has the potential for communication issues. For example, your contractor may work part-time or remotely, making it challenging for them to keep up with the daily duties carried out by the wider team or be on hand to respond to immediate security issues. 

If you want to overcome these issues, it's essential to set up clear channels for your contractor to communicate with the business. You could assign them a temporary manager to whom they can report or set them up on Teams to allow them to message employees within the company when needed. Additionally, you should ensure your organization and your contracted cybersecurity specialist understand their working hours so you can set out a plan for when they're unavailable. 

Learn more about outsourced IT recruitment services with our guide: When should your business consider outsourcing IT roles? 

Pros and cons of in-house IT security

Regarding in-house cybersecurity, the pros include greater control over your hires, who will also establish a deeper knowledge of your business needs and deliver faster response times. However, there are also some drawbacks to in-house security. These include potential higher costs, limited expertise and scalability challenges. 

In this section, we'll outline the pros and cons of in-house IT security.

Pros of in-house IT security

The below provides an overview of the pros of in-house cybersecurity:

  • Greater Control

With in-house IT security, you gain greater control over the talent you onboard and your cybersecurity recruitment strategy. You can determine the approach you want to take regarding your security posture with on-hand support from full-time and permanent cybersecurity specialists. 

Whether you source your IT security professionals through your internal hiring team or a cybersecurity recruitment agency, you have more control over talent acquisition. Whereas IT security outsourcing is a faster process suitable for immediate hires, in-house cybersecurity requires a more thorough process and is typically a longer-term solution. You'll dedicate more time to screening, interviewing, and ultimately deciding on the type of hire or multiple hires you require.

This element of greater control allows you to find a cybersecurity specialist who fits into your company culture. As this talent will work exclusively for your business, you will have the freedom to upskill the employees in your cybersecurity team. This point is a much-needed measure due to the industry's constant evolution, with new technologies and approaches to IT security constantly changing.

  • Deep Knowledge of Business Needs

As you’ve taken more time to hire the right fit for your IT security department during the cybersecurity recruitment process, you’ll know the in-house solution is for longer-term needs. Because your hire is a permanent team member, you can dedicate more time to their development and understanding of your business needs. 

From the onboarding phase or with additional training, your in-house cybersecurity specialist will develop a deep knowledge of your organization. They will understand your vision and approach to IT security, becoming crucial to securing the longevity of your company's security and success. Again, as they will be on a longer-term deal with your business, an in-house IT security professional can dedicate more time to establishing a robust security posture that addresses your vulnerabilities. 

  • Faster Response Times

As in-house IT security employees are firmly part of your organization on a permanent basis, they will be on hand to combat any cybersecurity issues. They can also readily support the broader business with any problems or queries they have regarding IT security when required. These faster response times give you peace of mind, knowing you have people you can rely on to keep your sensitive data secure and IT infrastructure running smoothly with minimal downtime year-round. 

With an in-house cybersecurity specialist at your disposal, they can help integrate IT security into various aspects of your operations. They’ll have the time to regularly monitor the performance of your IT infrastructure, implementing tools such as automation to track potential issues in real time. Permanent hires focused on your IT security as one of their primary responsibilities can forecast and address issues relating to cybersecurity as soon as or before they become a significant problem.

Cons of in-house IT security

Below is a section exploring the cons of in-house cybersecurity:

  • Higher Costs

One potential drawback to in-house cybersecurity is that it can incur higher costs. With IT security outsourcing, you pay a third-party contractor for the time you need and can afford without the need to cover finances relating to employee perks. Hiring a permanent employee involves other costs, from the salary of your cybersecurity specialist, insurance, employee benefits, and other tools and equipment they require.

We covered the flexibility you get with IT security outsourcing, whereby it's much simpler to part ways with the contractor if you wish to. However, it's far more complex and financially costly to terminate a permanent hire if they turn out to be the wrong fit. For context, the average cost of a wrong hire is $17,000. 

Of course, this can be avoided through a thorough vetting process with support from a specialist cybersecurity recruitment agency. Additionally, the cost of a permanent hire can benefit your business in the long run, especially if they successfully protect your sensitive data from internal and external threats. 

Download our Attract, Secure, Retain report here to understand a cybersecurity specialist's typical salaries.

  • Limited Expertise

With the IT security talent shortage looming over the tech industry, you may find attracting the best cybersecurity specialists more challenging if you're a small or medium-sized organization. You may be priced out by larger corporations with the budget to attract experienced professionals to their businesses on permanent contracts. As a result, you may have to focus your efforts on hiring less experienced or entry-level talent.

Partnering with a cybersecurity recruitment agency can help you navigate the market and source the required people. Even if you have access to limited expertise, you may be able to overcome this if you have the resources to train and nurture less experienced talent. 

Although this approach may take longer to get your talent up to speed, investing in more entry-level talent could support your employee attraction and retention strategies. Talent in the industry may see your company as the place to be due to your commitment to supporting professional development.

  • Scalability Challenges

As mentioned, hiring permanent cybersecurity specialists often comes with higher costs than IT security outsourcing. Investing in a single hire could use up your budget to make future hires in the short term. Again, if you make the wrong hire, the costs involved here could also set you back. These scalability challenges could see your business fall behind the competition and leave your operations vulnerable to emerging cyber threats. 

Therefore, it’s essential to carefully plan your cybersecurity recruitment needs and manage your budget to ensure your business is prepared to scale up or down when needed. You should take advice from your internal hiring team or specialist talent acquisition firm, which can help guide you to the right decision for your organization. 

The final word on IT security outsourcing vs in-house

Overall, the decision between IT security outsourcing and in-house solutions depends on factors like your company's budget, scalability needs, and access to specialized talent. Outsourcing offers cost-effectiveness and scalability but may result in less control and communication issues. In-house solutions provide greater control and faster response times but can be costly and may face expertise and scalability challenges. 

Prioritizing the security of your organization's data and systems is crucial regardless of the chosen approach. You may decide to take a hybrid approach, opting for both outsourced IT security and permanent talent. Whichever solution you choose, it's important to consult your internal hiring team or specialist cybersecurity recruitment agency to help guide you in your decision.

Specialists in cybersecurity recruitment

If you're considering cybersecurity outsourcing or recruiting IT security talent in-house, we can help. Our team of IT security consultants understands the benefits of hiring both outsourced vs. in-house cybersecurity specialists. They can support you in determining the approach best suited to your business needs and can connect you with the top professionals capable of meeting your specific requirements. 

Contact us today to discuss your cybersecurity recruitment needs regarding IT security outsourcing vs. in-house hiring.