MSPs need to keep pace with a changing cyber threat landscape
Are you prepared for when a cyber incident hits your network? Yes, when it happens, not if. Do you have the right resources in place to counter the inevitable? If not, are you going to deploy soon? This is not the time to be complacent. Whether it is data leaking from inside the organisation or hackers stealing it, cybercrime is an inescapable risk in a modern business.
Just as cybersecurity technology continuously improves virtual defence mechanisms, criminal IT developers and service providers are also hard at work. Just as you have much to lose, they have much to gain. And that is not even the only thing to worry about in the ever-changing online security landscape.
Cybersecurity remains one of the fastest-growing sectors, with global spending on products and services increasing 30% from 2017 to 2020. This year alone, Australians spent approximately AUS$5.6 billion on cybersecurity from local and international providers – a number that is projected to climb to AUS$7.6 billion by 2024.
However, almost half of small-medium businesses (SMBs) rated their cybersecurity understanding as “average” or “below average” and had poor cybersecurity practices. A report has also shown that two out of five SMBs have direct experience with a cyber incident worthy of reporting.
It is not surprising that business owners know they are struggling but do not know where to begin, with only 21% learning about cyber risk from their MSP (managed service provider) and 19% spending nothing on cybersecurity in the last 12 months.
At times like this, there ought to be more good guys to help defend. Not quite. The cybersecurity skills shortage trend continues the slide from bad to worse, as detailed in the fifth annual global study of cybersecurity professionals by the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) and industry analyst firm Enterprise Security Association (ESG). The study surveyed 489 cybersecurity professionals and found that 91% agreed that those in this line of work must keep up with their skills, or the organisations they work for are at a significant disadvantage. Yet, 82% said that job requirements often get in the way of developing their skills.
However, this bleak outlook can be a silver lining for managed service providers. A recent report projected the global managed services market to reach US$552.35 billion in revenue by 2028, with a 12.7% CAGR from 2021. There is a growing preference for organisations to outsource critical IT functions and management to MSPs to help improve operational efficiency while reducing costs. The scalability and flexibility of MSP models also allow businesses to keep pace with the latest technological advances.
Small and medium-sized businesses could be contributing to the rise as well. The ‘State of SMB Cybersecurity in 2021’ survey commissioned by ConnectWise found that 77% of respondents said they planned to increase their level of investment in cybersecurity throughout the year and beyond.
ConnectWise started 40 years ago as an MSP and has since evolved to be a leading provider of business automation software for technology service providers (TSP). Raffael Marty, senior vice president of product management for cybersecurity, recently spoke with Tech Wire Asia on MSPs, SMBs and cybersecurity.
Marty said MSPs come in different levels – from those providing essential services like reselling products and tending to everyday computer issues to their bread-and-butter of managing IT systems remotely and, more recently, engaging in cybersecurity as well. “Security conversations are more and more at the top of mind for most of the MSPs that we’re dealing with,” he said.
“Some of the MSPs [told us] ‘Look, we don’t have the expertise, or we would love to have the service, but we don’t have the right people, we don’t know how to do it’. So that’s when they can outsource it to our services, where we have a managed services security operations centre that will take care of a lot of those things. And it’s really anything from doing it for them, doing it with them, or they do it themselves,” Marty said, noting the MSPs are becoming more proactive when it comes to online security since they are aware everyone is a target nowadays. Cybersecurity affects other aspects of running a business too. “Even cyber insurance is now requiring all kinds of security tools to be there, so the MSP needs to be able to provide those tools.”
SMBs make up most of MSPs’ clientele. While out-of-the-box security solutions are available, they are mainly designed with large enterprises in mind, so SMBs could find many features irrelevant to their situation. SMBs can be better off working with MSPs that can configure custom solutions for them, so they can cut costs by only paying for and getting just what they need.
“I’ve been doing security for over 20 years and a lot of [the products are for] enterprise, which is very different, like the features and capabilities in there, you build them much more for experts,” Marty explained. He was chief research and intelligence officer at Forcepoint and has had senior leadership and ownership roles at Sophos, PWC, Splunk, and PixlCloud, before accepting the appointment at ConnectWise.
“Whereas here in the MSP space, it needs to be easy, from pricing to ticket generation, everything just needs to be super nicely tied in. Often when I hear some of the MSPs going and trying to buy the large best-of-breed enterprise product, I’m like, just make sure you write down your requirements. Yes, you would like to say that you’re using CrowdStrike, but is that really the right tool for you?” he said.
“You might want to go with something else that is more tailored to your industry. Maybe it’s not the absolute best enterprise product, but guess what, even with a step down, you will still get great coverage for security, and it’s going to be much easier for you to manage and handle. I think that that’s really important for the MSPs out there to understand as well.”
Aside from getting the most suitable tool for the job and business size, ConnectWise allows a business to be smart in overseeing its expenses, a factor in operations that is increasingly vital due to the changes in the market.
Cybersecurity is seeing new compliance and regulations affecting policy and platforms, including data protection acts across the world, advancing technologies, and an evolving threat landscape. It can be overwhelming for both customers and MSPs to keep up to date with emerging issues. Thankfully, no-one must deal with them independently.
“This is where vendors like us can help and say, ‘Look, you don’t have to worry about it as we’re here to extract all of that for you. We will keep on top of all these different things and here’s what you need, and we will help you configure and sell it’,” Marty said, adding ConnectWise is always listening and learning to fine-tune its solutions for the end-users. “We continually work with the MSPs and our customers to understand where they’re at.”
“Here at ConnectWise we are serious about Cyber Security, we have a unit called the CRU, the cyber research unit, which is specialised in the MSP space. In 2019, we founded the TSP-ISAO which is now a CompTIA organisation,” he said. The TSP-ISAO is short for Technology Solution Provider Information Sharing and Analysis Organization. ConnectWise handed over its management and operation to CompTIA, the leading vendor-neutral trade association for the global IT industry, last year.
“We are the only MSP Platform in the Microsoft Active Protections Program, and we partner with MITRE to provide an intelligence feed. We are constantly looking at that space and augmenting all our threat intelligence to what is relevant for MSPs, and that’s what differentiates us from others.” MITRE is a non-profit organisation committed to the public interest which created the MITRE ATT&CK, a free and globally accessible knowledge base of adversary tactics and techniques based on real-world observations.
ConnectWise offers a comprehensive range of cybersecurity management solutions from EDR (endpoint detection and response) and SIEM (security information and event management), to risk assessment and dark web monitoring. It also provides hosting for a welcoming global community which supports education and nurtures best practices through its IT Nation Secure and MSP+ Cybersecurity Framework and Playbooks.
Whether you are an MSP, MSP+, VAR, or OED, ConnectWise provides scalability, intelligent automation, customisation, and community support. Learn how you can take the first step, or go to the next level in cybersecurity, by partnering with ConnectWise.