How verticalizing your MSP is good for cybersecurity

There has been a drastic impact from the coronavirus pandemic on the risks and opportunities facing Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and the need to remain agile in our fast-paced industry. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) have impressively risen to the challenges and accelerated the digital transformation of many industries and people in the suburbs. In fact, a number of MSPs have found that diversifying the industries they serve reduces business risk. For example, if one of the industries they work with is struggling for various reasons, they meet with other robust sectors to ensure the MSP stays afloat. So you should not put all your eggs in one basket, as was recently said.
Concept of data security with padlock and cyber connection link. Technology Global Network Digital Data Protection Background.

Putting Cybersecurity at the Forefront

In this day and age, when cyberattacks make daily headlines, the issue of cybersecurity is at the forefront of many business leaders’ minds. Yet implementing the right solutions and knowing what to do to mitigate the risk is a major challenge for decision makers in these companies. Even more difficult is the task for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which typically lack the extensive budgets and resources needed to implement the most effective and sophisticated cybersecurity solutions on the market.

Agencies in the U.S. and the U.K. are aware of the cyber issues facing every modern business and that, contrary to popular belief, they can affect organizations of all sizes and industries. Small businesses are not meaningless to cybercriminals, and it is not uncommon for them to be attacked – if only to gain a foothold in a supply chain to gain access to larger companies.

These attacks can be devastating for SMEs, as studies have found that 60% of small businesses go out of business within six months of a successful cyberattack. This means that SMBs need to treat cybersecurity as a priority and conduct the right kind of risk assessments to ensure they invest in the most cost-effective solutions that are right for their business.

The best defense against cyberattacks and ransomware is strengthened cybersecurity with an adequate backup and disaster recovery system to protect data. Properly implemented and managed, cybersecurity ensures that you can recover from a cyberattack and ransomware. First, a firewall at the network perimeter must be properly configured, hardened and include malware scanning. Second, every endpoint on the network must have an antivirus/antimalware program that is updated regularly. A monitoring and alerting system should be in place to notify the IT help desk if the antivirus or antimalware program stops working or has not been updated. Third, computers should be configured to update the operating system and applications regularly. This applies to Windows, but also to applications such as Office, Flash, Java, iTunes and other Apple programs, etc. Patch management is critical to a proper cybersecurity plan to protect against cyberattacks and ransomware. Again, patch management should be monitored and an alert system put in place so that technical support can be notified when needed. Next, Internet browsing protection or content filtering should be implemented on each computer to prevent visiting malicious websites. Finally, a managed backup and disaster recovery solution to protect your data in the event an attack successfully exploits a system is critical. With a proper and recoverable backup, your files can be restored quickly without having to pay ransom to the hackers.

First and foremost, Cybersecurity is a Business Issue, not an IT Issue

To be honest, there is a barrier that MSPs have to overcome when it comes to talking to customers about cybersecurity. Most MSPs have advertised that they understand the technology and that the customer can trust them to “make IT work.”

The problem is that many SMBs assume their MSP has them covered. They assume that paying an MSP for IT services equates to protecting them from cyberattacks because it’s an “IT issue.” So first and foremost, MSPs need to have those difficult conversations with their customers about risk to clarify what is covered, what risk the MSP assumes and what remains the customer’s responsibility. After all, what the customer doesn’t know can hurt them and the MSP. This difficult conversation becomes even more difficult when the customer has to pay to repair the damage, decide whether or not to pay a ransom, or deal with dissatisfied customers and regulators. 

As for the second problem, it arises from the fact that SMEs are always more willing to pay for someone to help them grow their business than for someone to help them stay secure. The challenge is to get SMEs to understand that by focusing on cybersecurity, they can successfully grow their business. That connection is very difficult to make if you don’t understand their industry. Security strengthens their brand and can differentiate them from the competition.

MSPs need to be able to communicate the value of more security. Show your customers the cost of neglecting cybersecurity. There are business risks associated with downtime due to various factors, and there are huge costs associated with business email compromise, ransomware and other cyberattacks.

But there’s also the perceived risk that customers and potential customers weigh when hiring an MSP to do their work. The same is true for clients’ businesses. If an MSP has a reputation for helping their clients’ businesses run smoothly and securely, that will lead to more orders for that MSP. An MSP can also help their clients communicate their own improved security to their customers, which in turn leads to more orders.

By mitigating risk and addressing cybersecurity, an MSP is not only investing in its own growth, but also helping its customers grow. Therein lies incredible value.

Verticalization is still of great value

In conclusion, while COVID-19 demonstrated the benefits of diversification in unprecedented and unpredictable times, staying in your area of expertise and becoming a true expert can pay huge dividends for both MSPs and their customers, and accelerate growth as we move out of the current environment.

This may require a change in strategy and a plan for operations with a focus on cybersecurity, but it’s all about long-term goals, right? If an MSP wants to grow and evolve, it needs to be flexible and adaptable, and verticalization can be a smart way to do that.

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