Putting the S in MSSP Part 1: Defining and Deploying the 3 Pillars of Cybersecurity

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Author: Meaghan Moraes
Author: Meaghan Moraes

With increasingly complex threats flooding the modern IT landscape, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are struggling to keep their heads above water. We’ve all seen the stats, right? Malicious attacks are on the rise, and your SMB clients are increasingly (and successfully) becoming the targets. Unfortunately, this means that your IT services of yore simply aren’t enough to keep up with the ever-present, ever-evolving cyber threats that plague modern business. As an MSP, what is there left for you to do? The answer might be to adopt a managed security services provider (MSSP) model and integrate security services into your portfolio.

Putting the S in MSSP” is a weekly blog series that aims to set up MSPs to succeed as managed security services providers (MSSPs) by offering the insights and recommendations you need to profit from this new and important line of business. Throughout this six-part series, you’ll learn how to become a comprehensive MSSP who can secure SMBs with the tools needed to tread the modern threat landscape without fear. In this first post, we’ll lay the groundwork for defining and deploying the three key pillars of cybersecurity.

Currently, the biggest obstacles SMBs face in attaining stronger cybersecurity are:

  • Lack of skilled employees (45 percent)
  • Lack of budget (45 percent)
  • Lack of security awareness among employees (40 percent)
Related: Complete MSSP & SOC Coverage. Only on MSSP Alert.

It’s clear that SMBs can no longer deploy effective cybersecurity on their own—which poses a vital opportunity for MSPs to step in and support their clients’ growing security needs. The time to make the game-changing shift to a fully managed MSSP is now—and it's extremely feasible. As an MSP already offering managed IT services like remote monitoring and management (RMM) and backup and disaster recovery (BDR), you are well-suited to protect your clients and become that one-stop-shop they can turn to.

Before you make your seamless transition to MSSP, however, you need a winning game plan to help SMBs navigate the evolving threat landscape. The best starting point is fully understanding the three pillars of cybersecurity:

  • Training and education
  • Detection and isolation
  • Remediation and resolution

Let’s break each of these down so you can start providing your clients the level of protection they truly need.

Training and Education

For every business, the first line of defense always starts with its people. In fact, a recent study by Wombat Security Technologies and the Aberdeen Group found that increased investment in employee training can reduce the risk of a cyber attack up to 70 percent. When employees are properly trained on how to navigate the modern threat landscape, they will understand how to assess vulnerabilities, secure their network and endpoints and mitigate security incidents.

Conducting market-specific training is a key component to creating a robust information security strategy. Security training and education can take the form of:

  • Security awareness training
  • Cybersecurity training/courses
  • Office/workplace security

Embedding effective training and education into your security offering starts with supporting your clients in the following areas:

Increasing employee awareness

An MSSP will educate clients on security training best practices, such as detecting spoofed email and keeping up with the state of ransomware.

Testing employees’ security savvy

It’s the MSSP’s responsibility to empower clients to assess the level of their employees’ current security knowledge. You can arm clients with tools like this quiz to help them understand what areas of training to focus on.

Following up with employees on their results

It’s crucial that businesses promote constant security reinforcement to encourage employees to remain vigilant. You can host yearly or quarterly security training sessions for your clients to ensure they are properly following up on their workplace security education efforts. This type of agreement could be established upfront in the service level agreement (SLA) so it’s carried out as part of your security services.

Detection and Isolation

Sometimes, firms only find out about breaches when an outside party notifies them, which is not ideal. The longer it takes to detect a breach, the more damaging and costly it becomes. Responding appropriately to breaches means putting your customers first. Otherwise, the cost of breach remediation will increase, not to mention the incident could have a lasting impact on the business’ reputation. Since organizations will always need to adapt to new threats in the IT environment, there will always be a need for a bigger budget. Thus, it is necessary to deploy threat defense mechanisms that are built to scale.

According to the Aberdeen Group study referenced above, the number of SMBs that favor the use of MSSPs for threat detection and isolation has recently increased 29 percent, compared to a 3 percent decrease in the number of SMBs that rely on in-house security professionals for this function. You can capitalize on this advantage by utilizing Vulnerability Management, a comprehensive approach that will secure all devices across the network, offering multi-layer protection via the combination of software and services.

MSPs working to improve the way they detect and isolate threats will benefit from an impermeable solution that includes:

  • Endpoint protection
  • Threat vulnerability remediation
  • Patches in security defenses
  • Security incident response and mitigation
  • Research and follow up

The ability to remotely monitor, manage, back up and secure clients’ IT environments from a central location will enable you to maximize systems integration and information to deliver exceptional efficiency and speed—exactly what businesses need to detect and isolate a security incident as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

Remediation and Resolution

While 74 percent of business executives say their company has a security strategy, only 15 percent believe that their company has the skills and capabilities to execute on that strategy, according to Forrester. When it comes to remediating and resolving a security incident, there needs to be a solid company-wide plan of action in place that equips all parties involved with everything they need to survive the hit.

A strong incident response plan will not just cover how to prevent a breach, but consider how to effectively stop and lock down a breach if it were to occur. Almost everything can be hacked today, so planning how to remediate and conquer is the only way to responsibly conduct business.

If organization-wide roles for resolving security incidents are established and the most critical systems are identified in advance, the business will have a well-documented system which will inform employees exactly how to shut down any vulnerabilities that come through the network.


Understanding and executing on these three pillars of cybersecurity will not only help MSPs effectively protect clients from potentially debilitating threats, but also incite a crucial shift in the way businesses think about security.

Effective cybersecurity now goes beyond threat prevention; it means you are sufficiently prepared to help your clients address and contain threats as quickly and effectively as possible. Since the reality is that an entire business could shut down from a cyber attack in the blink of an eye, it’s necessary that your clients are blanketed with the security of an MSSP who will provide them the tools to fight back and win.

These three pillars of cybersecurity lay a solid foundation for the shift to next-level threat protection that will keeps SMBs afloat. Tune in next week for the next post in our “Putting the S in MSSP” series, which will discuss the (sometimes) harsh realities of managing multiple security vendors and point you in your most scalable direction.

Click here to read part two!

Meaghan Moraes is a Content Marketing Manager at Continuum. Read more Continuum blogs here.