The 10-Point Cyber Security RFP Checklist 

The 10-Point Cybersecurity RFP Checklist

When selecting a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process, how can educational institutions ensure they select the right MSSP to meet their cybersecurity needs?

In this blog post, we’ll guide you through our 10-point cybersecurity RFP checklist so you can ensure the best outcome from your RFP process. By following this checklist, educational institutions can be confident their receiving proposals that meet their unique cybersecurity needs.

1. Include Technical Requirements 

Including technical components such as ISO-27000 certifications and SOC2-type 2 certifications in an RFP for cybersecurity services is important because it ensures that the responses you receive will be from qualified, certified and experienced organizations. 

Including these certifications in an RFP sets clear expectations for vendors and ensures that they are aware of the specific requirements that must be met. 

Additionally, including technical components such as these certifications in an RFP can help reduce the risk of security breaches or other cyber threats by ensuring that the selected vendor has the necessary expertise, training, and experience to manage cybersecurity risks effectively. 

2. Set Clear Incident Response Time Requirements 

Setting response times on different cybersecurity incident levels within an RFP is important for establishing clear expectations for how quickly an MSSP must respond to different types of cybersecurity incidents. This eliminates delays in the event of an incident and helps mitigate the risk of the incident.  

In the event of a cybersecurity incident, time is of the essence. The longer it takes to respond, the more potential damage can be done. By setting response times on different cybersecurity incident levels, an organization can help reduce downtime and minimize the impact of a cybersecurity incident. 

3. Request Local Resources 

Local resources are typically able to respond more quickly to cybersecurity incidents, as they are physically closer to the organization. This can help minimize the impact of any incidents and reduce downtime. 

If your educational institution is unionized, you have very specific working hours that must be followed. Selecting a vendor with local resources can help with scheduling meetings and maintenance and ensuring 24/7 coverage. 

Additionally, local SOC resources are likely to be familiar with local regulations and compliance requirements, which can be important for ensuring that the organization remains compliant with applicable laws and regulations. 

4. Request Solely Microsoft Focused Vendor Responses 

Microsoft-focused MSSP will have a deeper understanding of the Microsoft Security ecosystem and the organization’s technology platform and will be better equipped to address any potential vulnerabilities or threats. Working with an MSSP that has a strong focus on Microsoft can provide a higher level of expertise and ensure that the organization’s complex cybersecurity needs are fully met. 

A Microsoft-focused MSSP, like Difenda, can ensure that the organization’s security infrastructure is fully integrated with its Microsoft technologies, which can help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its security operations. 

How can you tell? Look for these two badges to ensure your MSSP is capable and qualified to manage your systems: The MISA Microsoft Verified Managed XDR Solution badge and the Microsoft Solutions Partner for Security badge.

Microsoft MXDR Solution Status Badge

5. Establish A Realistic Timeline  

It can take 6-9 months to undergo the RFP process. A realistic timeline sets expectations for all parties involved in the RFP process, including the organization submitting the RFP, potential vendors, and other stakeholders. This can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure that all parties are aligned on the expectations for the project. 

A realistic timeline can increase the likelihood of a successful project outcome. This includes selecting a vendor that best meets the organization’s needs and ensuring that there is adequate time for planning and implementation. 

6. Be Specific With Your Contract Data Requirement List (CDRL)  

A CDRL is a list of required deliverables that the contractor must provide during the course of the project. Being specific in the CDRL helps to clearly define what the organization expects to receive from the security vendor, which reduces the risk of misunderstandings and reduces the risk of delays or issues during the project. 

A specific CDRL makes it easier to evaluate proposals from different vendors. Each vendor will be evaluated based on their ability to meet the specific requirements outlined in the CDRL, which helps to ensure a fair and objective evaluation process. 

7. Ask For Clarity on Your Time and Personnel Requirements 

Clarifying internal staffing support needed and time requirements needed for onboarding and/or management are critical to ensure that the organization has the right level and type of staffing needed to complete the project on time. Personnel requirements can specify the skill sets and experience levels required for the project. This can help to identify potential staffing issues before they become problems.

8. Clarify Your Storage Standards 

Data storage is often subject to legal, regulatory, and compliance requirements. By clarifying the MSSP’s storage standards whether in the cloud or on-premises, your school can ensure that the MSSP is compliant with all applicable requirements, such as HIPAA, GDPR, or other regulations. 

In addition, one of the major challenges for the education sector is enabling staff and students with open-access data. Clarifying storage standards can help determine the accessibility of data and what precautions will be in place to protect it.  

9. Keep Your Business Issue in Mind 

The purpose of selecting an MSSP and developing a new security solution is to provide your end users with technical capabilities that solve a business issue. To ensure that the proposals you receive answer your business needs you must make clear reference to those issues in your RFP.

 By outlining and identifying the most critical issues that need to be addressed within your program, you enable vendors to provide you with solutions that will maximize ROI and ensure a successful outcome.  

10. Secure Upper Management Buy-In and Funding Before You Start

When looking at cybersecurity solutions funding sometimes goes beyond the initial purchase. Depending on the model, you may have annual subscription fees after the initial implementation and setup. Or there could be maintenance and upgrade fees you need to consider down the line.  

Securing upper management buy-in and funding before creating your RFP shows that the organization’s leadership supports the initiative. Which can help build confidence in the project and encourage participation from stakeholders.  

But it also ensures that there is a budget available to cover the costs associated with the RFP process and any subsequent cybersecurity services that may be required.  

Looking For More Tips on Navigating the MSSP Buyers Journey? Download the Buyers Guide Now!  

Our Partners

Penetration Testing Whitepaper

Threat Intelligence

Subscribe to receive insider threat intelligence from Difenda’s front line security analysts in our 24/7/365 SOC.

Ken Perkins

Biography coming soon.

Megan Miller

Megan Miller’s energy and passion for learning flow into all aspects of her work. As the Growth Manager, North America, she brings a background in sciences which she has transitioned to the tech sector in her role at Difenda.

With a Bachelors of Science in Geology, Megan is a lifelong learner who is voracious about learning anything she can get her hands on about cybersecurity. Her positive energy has built a sales strategy with a focus on expanding in the United States while nurturing the Canadian presence. She is responsible for recruiting and training the sales team. Together with the company’s leadership, she creates the sales process and the company’s product strategy in order to better serve the customer base. This ensures that our customers have a highly trained and highly motivated team to help them every step of the way, Megan has completed Microsoft SC-900 training and working towards mastering Microsoft.

Whether at work or play, Megan is fully committed. She took her love of hockey all the way to the semi-professional level as a competitive hockey player. Megan loves all things sports including water skiing, scuba diving, cycling, and snowboarding. She also enjoys time with family and reading about alternative energy, innovation, and cybersecurity.

Natasha Phanor

As the Microsoft Partner Manager at Difenda, Natasha Phanor is responsible for driving growth within our Microsoft Partnership. With six years in the industry, she offers a fresh, energetic approach, and the ability to focus on our customer’s needs throughout the entire process. Natasha has the innate ability to foresee customer needs and solve problems before they arise, which creates a smooth road for each customer she encounters.

As the recipient of the Outstanding Services Partner of the Year Award in 2018, it is clear that Natasha responds quickly to customer needs, creates a platform for understanding a customer’s business requirements, and walks them through the process to ensure their complete satisfaction.

In her spare time, Natasha is as energetic and passionate as she is on the job. A self-proclaimed foodie-extraordinaire, she enjoys dinner parties, traveling, downhill skiing, hiking, biking, and reading. Natasha has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, specializing in Dance, from Ryerson University.

Lisa Templeton

Lisa Templeton is the perfect combination of human empathy and technological prowess. In her role as People Services Manager, she takes care of our team members to support them in their daily work, as well as on their personal life paths. Happy employees make for happy customers, and Lisa excels in giving our employees the tools they need for success in order to become the best possible versions of themselves. Along with employee formation, she shines in the service delivery support domain to continuously improve the process. Her 24 years of experience in IT Operations and Service Management help her create quality and efficiency at Difenda.

Having attended the Information Systems Management certificate program at Ryerson University, and with various other certifications to her credit, Lisa is perceptive and innovative when it comes to information technology, but also sensitive to the needs of her human constituents. Responsible for achieving the first privately owned company HDI Support Center certification in Canada, she has also designed and implemented Service Management excellence programs and 24×7 IT Operations departments for multiple IT organizations, and has created corporate rewards and recognition programs to keep her employees engaged and motivated.

On the personal side, Lisa passionately supports the cause of breast cancer research, having lost her mother to the disease. She reads voraciously in her spare time, and enjoys the art of home renovation. The summer months also bring time on her boat and exploring new hiking trails.

Miranda McCurdy

Miranda McCurdy uses her myriad super powers in all aspects of her job and personal life. As the Marketing Director at Difenda, Miranda McCurdy brings over a decade of experience to the table, which includes expertise in all facets of operations, brand management, and content marketing, as well as a multitude of successful strategies for the ever-expanding digital world. She is an expert at simplifying the message the company is trying to send, filling in gaps in the information, and strengthening the content in order to create compelling narratives that strengthen the brand and developing programs that bring teams together.

With several Addy Awards issued by the American Advertising Federation Cleveland to her credit, and her never say die attitude, Miranda understands both the broader picture and the minute details that are needed to successfully market a product. With her abilities to harness both the talent needed to spread the message, as well as to create the message itself, she is an integral cog in the company’s ability to communicate with customers and other stakeholders.

When she is not building a brand, she shares her ability to fill the gaps in her community by volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, the Special Olympics, and the Charleston Food Bank. In her spare time, Miranda spends time with her family, enjoys fitness and health, paddle boarding, reading, and arts and crafts.

Juliana Zaremba

Connections are the name of the game for Juliana Zaremba. As Strategic Partnerships Director, she is responsible for Difenda’s channel partnerships and the development and ownership of the channel partner program. She is also responsible for the global Microsoft Partnership, including the creation of strategic plans with MSFT contacts that will facilitate the continued growth of the business and establish certification and training protocols in all security technologies. Her role is multifaceted, as she acquires partners, manages relationships with them, and develops strategies that will provide cutting edge security solutions to our customer base. Another integral aspect of her job is to facilitate growth.

With a Bachelor’s in Math from the University of Waterloo and 14 years of experience from her previous roles at Herjavec Group and CDW, her cutting edge focus and ability to develop long-lasting relationships and strategies provides world class security solutions to our customer base.

Juliana thrives on connections outside of work as well. She is a philanthropist and contributor with Women4Change based in Hamilton. This group of local women is passionate about supporting local causes, and she focuses her efforts around Women in STEM. She is also a member of Club Italia in Niagara Falls and supports their youth events throughout the year.

When not managing the Microsoft Global partnership, Juliana enjoys reading, often reading several books at once. Juliana enjoys exploring the Niagara Escarpment with her family, as well as sharing meals and experiences with her extended family. Juliana’s competitive nature has her always trying new things, like Whoop band challenges and Peloton.

Jeffry Jacob

Biography Coming Soon