9 Key MSP Cybersecurity Requirements for 2021

Matt Scully, channel chief, Mailprotector
Author: Matt Scully, channel chief, Mailprotector

In this time of uncertainty, many businesses are looking to MSPs for counsel on a number of IT-related issues, with remote workforce-enablement tools and cybersecurity at the forefront of those discussions. Your clients need your support in these areas (and others) more than ever, especially in the information security field, where expertise is highly valued. Not only are skilled professionals hard to find, but the cost of hiring those individuals is astronomical, as most MSPs understand from their own experiences.

Those factors all point to one thing: IT services firms with the right skill sets portfolios are in a prime position to grow their clientele, revenue, and profits in 2021. Of course, the caveat will be to properly define what those offerings look like and how to leverage your expertise to enter new markets and scale to build co-managed IT relationships with larger companies.

The opportunities for MSP firms that can effectively cover their clients’ comprehensive cybersecurity needs, no matter how big or small, are expected to grow substantially in the coming months. With so many companies adopting what were intended to be temporary WFH environments and now stuck in a semi-permanent limbo due to the ongoing pandemic, someone needs to address all the related and escalating risks. Those organizations need strong cybersecurity advisors to help them counter all the potential threats

Does your MSP firm fit that description? Do you have the toolset and expertise to provide the security protection that your current and prospective clients need in 2021, no matter how big or small the business or their regulatory requirements?

Most MSPs likely have a good foundation of those services already. From AV and firewall expertise to remote monitoring and management tools, you can add new solutions or leverage collaboration partners to fill unusual requests or address potentially unprofitable gaps in your portfolio. You do not have to go it alone building out your cybersecurity stack.

The New Practice Toolset Standards

Today’s defensive strategies require a more expansive mindset as well as an ever-expanding portfolio of solutions and support services. MSPs must continually assess their offerings and rethink their cybersecurity approaches as business clients reimagine their workspaces and systems.

WFH and hybrid ecosystems may ebb and flow in the coming years as companies respond to shifting employee preferences and recruitment challenges. MSPs’ cybersecurity practices will need to adapt to those changes, as well as address the continually increasing and evolving cyber threats.

What should that toolset look like in 2021? Here are nine of the core pieces that every IT services firm must offer, or at least be capable of delivering through their third-party collaboration partners:

1. Credential management solutions

One pitfall of today’s workforce is a lack of care or concern for which passwords they use and how (and where) they store that information. Since many employees are currently working outside the corporate perimeter, where they are more prone to cyberattacks, effective management of their business credentials is critical.Users must have different credentials for each account, so if one application or website is subject to an attack, the rest can remain safely protected. Password management software ensures your client’s employees will never need to remember scores of login details. They can simply access all their credentials from a single, secure source.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) should be mandatory whenever possible, especially for remote workers who juggle VPNs, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, corporate social media, and other easily hackable applications.

2. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)

A recent survey gauging remote work security habits found 77% of WFH employees are using unmanaged, insecure personal devices to access corporate systems. Twenty-nine percent of the respondents who do use a corporate computer acknowledge allowing household members to use the same equipment for other means. Making matters worse, many team members working outside a corporate building utilize public Wi-Fi or private home networks (another significant risk).

Using a VPN allows remote users to access the corporate network through what is essentially an encrypted tunnel. MSPs can deliver that protection to ensure their clients can safely share data from any location. Masking the IP address with a VPM adds another layer of protection for both employees and their employers.

3. Cybersecurity Training

No amount of security solutions will be 100% infallible. Often, the only way for an organization to achieve total protection is through employee education layered on top of the tools you use to keep hackers at bay. Without these vital programs, businesses could be subject to greater risk and reputation damage, financial losses and non-compliance fines.

The most prominent area where human error affects a company’s security is around phishing. These schemes run rampant, and are only getting worse, preying on quarantine anxiety and pandemic fears. For this reason, leaning on end-user training programs is a must for service providers who want to cover all their bases. Utilize education that engages your clients’ employees with game mechanics, logic, and a reward system. Most employees see cybersecurity as a hindrance, so it’s critical to use gamification as a way to spark interest.

4. Email Security

Most organizations already employ anti-spam filters, but in an age where social engineering schemes are becoming more sophisticated by the day, comprehensive email security and encryption is essential. From the SMB to the enterprise, every business needs total protection that filters spam, viruses, phishing attacks, and more. Email security isn’t just about incoming messages. Outgoing email is also a concern. MSPs must be able to stop users from inadvertently sending spam and viruses and enforce sending policies to prevent data leaks.

5. Encryption

Business data represents the crown jewels for cybercriminals. Whether in storage or in motion, encryption ensures that information remains inaccessible to unauthorized users, and enhances its security even when being shared with others outside the firewall.Employees occasionally do have to send sensitive information via email. MSPs can ensure that data remains secure by providing each end-user with encryption technologies that ensure only the intended recipient will see their messages. Applications such as Mailprotector’s Bracket safeguards that information with one-time links that prevent unauthorized eyes from accessing the email. Of course, encryption only works when people actually use these technologies. The patented Bracket system ensures your clients will readily adopt and send all their email messages (with or without attachments) using this highly secure methodology. Users can also sign in securely without a password, and use advanced device fingerprinting to increase the protection.

6. Security Operations Center (SOC)

Whether in office or remote, a SOC is essential to improving an organization’s security posture. This service serves as a hub for monitoring and analyzing every event within a business’s infrastructure. A SOC allows the IT team to protect corporate assets, such as intellectual property and personnel data. Since a SOC provides 24/7 observation, system users can assess and defend against any cyberattacks on the network no matter the time of day. This continuous monitoring and analysis of processes and technology solutions ensure that incidents can be detected and mitigated promptly. In providing a SOC team, your MSP can protect clients’ assets, prevent network and device intrusions, and reduce the repercussions of an attack.

7. Endpoint Protection

With employees working from home using a variety of tools, securing every network connection is critical. According to a recent Ponemon Institute Study, 68% of IT professionals indicate that their company has experienced one, if not more, endpoint attacks. Protection beyond traditional antivirus solutions will help your clients decrease their vulnerabilities.This tech gives full visibility of devices and responds immediately to targeted attacks. Endpoint management also aids in identifying and managing users’ data access across a network. To comply with an organization’s policies or industry standards, administrators can also limit employee admittance to sensitive data and specific websites. Overseeing all network connections not only prevents outside attacks, but it stops inadvertent data leakage from insiders as well.

8. Secure File Sharing

Along with email encryption, technologies that allow the safe sharing of corporate data are necessary. Secure file transfer technology will enable employees to share large records conveniently and collaborate easily without the higher risk of acquiring a virus or malware. The new Bracket Share feature is a great example. With this service, your clients’ employees can distribute documents and messages effortlessly using a personalized file transfer page and a URL they can provide to anyone. End users can change share links and personalize invitations and authenticate messages to ensure their company’s ultimate security.

9. Backup and Disaster Recovery

There is simply no way to ensure 100% that unpredictable events, such as natural disasters, cyberattacks, or other external threats, will not affect your clients. Should a calamity occur, MSPs can restore users' essential work systems and reestablish complete functionality as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Create a Complete Package

While many businesses are still struggling to address pandemic-related work issues, MSPs can help them move forward. Are you preparing your clients with strong cybersecurity protections for WFH and hybrid work environments and implementing business continuity plans?

The options and resources available to MSPs are boundless. With an abundance of cybersecurity-related vendors and MSSPs providing valuable tools and support, you can build and scale your practice to address virtually any customer need. It truly takes a team effort to protect business today, and there are many collaboration partners ready and willing to lend a hand.

Creating cost-effective and sound cybersecurity practices is easier than ever. Now is the perfect time to assess and strengthen your offerings − and possibly find new collaboration partners in the process.

Author Matt Scully is channel chief at Mailprotector. Read more guest blogs from Mailprotector here.