We continue with Cybersecurity Awareness Month in today’s blog.  One topic that has not been addressed too much is the importance of having a Managed Services Provider.  You may be asking, what is this exactly?  To an SMB, this could be a term you may never even heard of. 

In fact, for as long has I have been in Cybersecurity, I have come across this term only a few times.  I have barely written about them, but we are going to break that trend.

Essentially, many businesses especially during today’s times, are trying to manage everything by themselves, even when it comes to managing their own IT and security needs.  True, as a business owner, you can save some serious money by taking this kind approach, but you know what, you may not be an expert in this. 

So whatever you think you are fixing may actually create more backdoors for the Cyberattacker to enter into.

Of course, you could hire an IT Security team for your company to do all of this, but that means paying out salaries and benefits.  Nobody wants to do that right now in today’s uncertain times.  So, there is one more option that is left . . . yep, you guessed it, the MSP. 

They can be literally thought of as your outsourced IT department.  But the advantages are that are scalable, for the most part affordable, and specialize in what they do so you cam pick a la carte what you need.

This is can be compared to like hiring a vCISO.  Instead of getting a direct hire, you can outsource one for a fixed price, end the contract when you don’t need them anymore, and bring them back on again if needed.  MSPs are truly a great way for the SMB to go.  By having all of this stuff outsourced, you can stay focus on growing your business.

Then there is yet another breed of MSPs.  These are known as the Managed Security Service Providers (aka MSSPs), and as their name implies, all they do is focus on the Cybersecurity needs of their clients.  In fact, studies have cited that almost 66% of businesses across Corporate America use an MSP for at least one IT related function, whether it is for server monitoring or just simply deploying software patches and upgrades.

But with all the advantages that an MSP can bring to the table, they too are now becoming a prime source of Cyberattacks themselves.  You may be asking why is the case?  Well, in some respects, an MSP can be viewed like an accounting firm. 

They have many clients as well, with a lot of Personal Identifiable Information (PII) datasets that are housed in their databases.  Because of this, the Cyberattacker is now targeting this industry, because with one entry they can get access to a whole range of things. 

Now an MSP may not necessarily have all of your confidential information and data, but what they do have is access to your IT and Network Infrastructures.  So, all the Cyberattacker has to do is simply find a backdoor in whatever the MSP uses to access your digital assets, and from there, voila, they have access to it as well. 

In fact, attacks against MSPs have become more serious over time, and one of the best examples of this is the huge energy firm known as EDP.  It was a ransomware attack, and the Cyberattackers involved wanted almost $11 million to be paid to them via a Virtual Currency.

So, what are some of the ways that an MSP can take in order to shore up their lines of defenses?  True, you can take a one size fits all kind of approach, but it is really important, especially if you are an MSP owner, to hone in on what you really need.  Here we go:

*Understand your clients:

Take the time and effort to truly understand what the security needs are of your clients.  You probably have done this when you did an initial risk assessment.  But have you taken the time to really understand them?  I mean, personally, one on one?  Probably not.  Take them out to dinner or breakfast.  Engage in a down to earth conversation to truly find out what worries them at night.  Then you will know what kind of security solutions you need to offer to them.  But also keep in mind that they need for protection is what you will also need for your own MSP business.

*Implement the Zero Trust Framework:

It is only human nature to have an implicit level of trust when we meet with others for the first time.  But you know what, given the world that we live in today, especially the digital one, you cannot afford this anymore.  This is where the Zero Trust Framework comes into play.  With this, you absolutely do not trust anybody whatsoever, even your employees that have been around with you for the longest time.  It may sound extreme, but you know what, for those businesses that have adopted this kind of model, it is starting to work.  With this particular approach, you are implementing multiple layers of authentication, so that if a Cyberattacker were to break through one of them, the statistical odds of them going in deeper are greatly lowered.  In fact, this could even be a great selling point to your prospects.  You can show them how this methodology has worked for your business, and that should be able to convince them to deploy this kind of solution for their own line of business. 

*Make sure your tools are safe:

In many of my previous blog posts, I have always harped on the fact that whatever tools a business decides to use to increase their levels of protection, it should be set up so that it meets the needs of their own unique security requirements.  Very often, businesses trust the default thresholds that the vendor has already established in them.  While this may be provide a minimalistic level of Cybersecurity it’s not enough.  The same holds true of the diagnostic and deployment tools that you are using to log in remotely into client’s IT and Network Infrastructures.  You need to make sure that you change that particular threshold, because after all, once again, you will be logging in remotely to meet the needs of you clients.  And, if these connections are not safe, you are making a very easy entry way for the Cyberattacker to penetrate into.

*Have all of your plans in place:

I have also written about the sheer level of importance when it comes to having Incident Response/Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity plans for when a security breach does occur.  But you know what?  As an MSP, you are also in the game to make a profit, right?  So it simply means that you are also a business that can also suffer from a Cyberattack just like any other entity.  So, you also need to put these plans in place as well and rehearse them on a regular basis.  After all, if you are hit, you want to restore your operations ASAP, as your clients are depending upon you to protect them. 

My Thoughts On This

If you want more details as to how MSPs are being targeted by Cyberattackers, read the following article at this link:

https://www.zdnet.com/article/us-secret-service-reports-an-increase-in-hacked-managed-service-providers-msps/

This is a compiled report put together by the United States Secret Service as to how MSPs are being targeted.  In the end, the MSP landscape is a very competitive one.  It takes a lot to get one customer and losing one can take just a matter of seconds, especially if you have been impacted.  Therefore, as an MSP owner, you need to take whatever steps you can to mitigate that risk from happening. 

In fact, if you are also venturing into offering Cybersecurity services, you can show your prospects and existing clients what you already have in place.  This serves as a win-win situation for you. 

For example, not only can you attract new clients by showing them that you are ahead of the threat variant curve, but it will also demonstrate to them that if you have taken the time to beef your own lines of defenses, you will take the same amount of care and effort when it comes to protecting their digital assets.