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Memo to MSPs: Security Is Your Problem And Your Opportunity

You’re used to helping your customers with productivity and uptime. They want to make sure their networks run and their employees produce the results they need. And you deliver. For some of your customers, it’s the old reactive break/fix arrangement where they bring in a broken device and you fix it. But for many, you’re focused on monitoring and management to prevent these issues. And your bread and butter likely comes from the device- and network-management worlds.

SolarWinds MSP VP Tim Brown

Yet, while you may have gotten into the channel from a traditional IT role, security has increasingly become essential for MSPs. In fact, it’s become so essential, it’s unavoidable—it’s a problem you must handle as a consultant to your customers. They expect you to help them.

But that’s precisely why security is also your opportunity. Today, I’ll discuss why security is your problem and how you can also make it work to your advantage.

Cybersecurity is your job

For many years, security remained a separate function. It essentially worked in the background, disconnected from the business. This model has changed. Even in larger organizations the security team may be a separate group but they’re directly integrated with business and IT functions. As a provider of IT services, you—as an MSP—always need to take security into consideration—and in many cases, take on the security function.

For starters, organizations have grown increasingly aware of potential security risks. For years, we’ve seen large attacks make major news headlines. These breaches have helped educate the public about data collection and how often data gets stolen. And with compliance regulations increasing the number of businesses that must report, we can expect an even larger growth in awareness. All of this means that businesses also have an increased awareness of the need for security.

Second, MSPs have become targets for criminals. With access to multiple businesses with sensitive data, MSPs have become high-value targets for cybercriminals. Basically, rather than attacking individual homes, cybercriminals hit the bank (you) instead. That means you shouldn’t scrimp or cut corners on your own security.

Finally, think about the issue from your customer’s perspective—they come to you to fix IT problems. They won’t always distinguish between a network bottleneck and a security issue. If they get hacked, you’re their first stop. The buck will often have to stop with you as their IT person when it comes to security problems.

It’s your opportunity, too

While security is now within your day-to-day job responsibilities, it’s also a great opportunity for your business. It can help you expand the services you offer (and bring in new customers), reassure the customers you currently have, let you expand within those accounts, and it can also become a strong selling point for your MSP business. Here are some tips on leveraging security:

  • Emphasize your own security: First, make sure you’re taking care of your own house. Software companies often publish information on their own security practices to reassure customers. You can take a page from their book and mention your security policies in marketing materials, sales presentations, and website copy. As long as you practice sound security practices like patching, monitoring your systems, and using good password policies, consider making customers aware as a way of building trust. A big part of security is also response. Highlight how you will respond when something happens to make sure your customers understand you will be there to help.
  • Win new business: Offering wider security services lets you appeal to security-conscious prospects. But beyond expanding your offerings, security can become a great foot-in-the-door with prospects. Try offering a low-cost security audit for prospects that lets them get a taste of your services without having to go all-in immediately. This also gives you much-needed intelligence you can use for a stronger pitch. After your audit, you can report on the primary vulnerabilities of a business, then offer a pitch on how you’ll protect them.
  • Strengthen customer relationships: Security can be a scary topic. But when you’re handling security for your customers, you can give them much-needed reassurance and peace of mind that they’re protected. With frequent updates and reports, you can continue building customer loyalty by keeping them assured you’ve got their back. Additionally, spotting problem areas lets you pitch new services to existing clients.
  • Build a strong reputation: Finally, it’s worth noting that it’s important to develop a reputation for security now. As cyberthreats continue making headlines, more MSPs will likely expand the security services they offer. If you build a strong reputation now, you’ll be further ahead of the game and may be able to get an edge, especially with word-of-mouth referrals. Ultimately, that reputation could help you stand out in a crowded marketplace. Bring the conversation back to business risk. That is something most customers understand. If a breach does occur, it could cost a great deal. But taking proactive measures helps to reduce the risk.

Security: the reality

Cybercriminals won’t stop any time soon. As long as businesses have data cybercriminals can steal and sell, they will continue attempting to attack businesses. This means you may have to take on additional expertise to tackle this problem, either through employing techs that have specific cybersecurity experience or through training your existing techs. But it also offers a lot of opportunity for your business to grow. Just take a few of the tips in this article and you can turn security into a strong driver for your MSP business.

This article mentioned the importance of internal MSP security both as a problem and an opportunity. SolarWinds® Passportal can help you maintain strong password security within your MSP business while offering one-click access to essential accounts. By automatically generating strong passwords and helping you enforce password best practices, you can make an essential element of your security almost automatic. And you can help reassure your customers and prospects that you take password security seriously. Learn more today at passportalmsp.com


Tim Brown is VP of security for SolarWinds MSP. Read more SolarWinds MSP guest blogs here.

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