Learn from industry-leading experts how MSPs can protect their business and clients’ data. Taken from a roundtable discussion at the Acronis #Cyberfit Summit, 2022, this article highlights types of risk, the transfer of risk, and how to prevent cyberthreats. 

As an MSP, you’re used to providing cybersecurity services to clients. But while protecting their systems and data is part of the job description, modern security risks can also have a very real impact on your own business. 

Research shows that 90% of surveyed MSPs have suffered attacks in the last 18 months. There are many reasons why attackers may target MSPs. One reason is that many have access to sensitive client data, making them an attractive target for cybercriminals. MSPs need to be aware of cybersecurity risks and take steps to safeguard themselves and their clients. 

Types of security risks for MSPs

MSPs can think of security risks as broadly divided into two categories: those that originate from within an organization, and those that are external. The former includes employee negligence or malicious insiders, while the latter consists of criminal activity like phishing campaigns and malware attacks, as well as natural disasters.

The human factor

When it comes to security risks, the human factor is often overlooked in the service provider industry when it comes to their own teams. There are many ways that employees can unintentionally or deliberately jeopardize security, such as: 

  • Failing to follow security procedures 
  • Reusing passwords 
  • Leaving devices and data unprotected 
  • Falling for phishing scams 
  • Granting unauthorized access 

To mitigate these risks, service providers need to have robust policies and procedures in place and ensure that their employees are properly trained in security best practices.  

Reputational risk

Reputational risk is another important consideration for service providers. A company's reputation can quickly and easily tarnish in today's digital age by a data breach, negative media coverage, or other incidents. This can lead to a loss of customers and revenue, as well as damage to the company's brand and reputation.

MSPs need to be aware of these risks and take steps to protect their clients' data and reputation. For example, when one prominent software company experienced a significant breach that impacted high-value clients (including several U.S. government agencies) in 2020, they had to spin off and rebrand their MSP business. MSPs with more limited resources might simply lose their business altogether.

Combatting risks

The best way to combat these risks is to have a comprehensive security strategy covering insider and external threats. Such procedures should include employee training, strong access controls, and robust malware protection. Ensure also that you can support clients in meeting all relevant regulations and compliance standards, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

MSPs must take a holistic approach to manage these risks and understand how they interconnect.

Transfer of risk challenges

As a service provider, it's becoming increasingly harder to transfer risk with legislation being introduced, especially with international laws such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In the past, when it came to breaches and the responsibility that they carry, MSPs and other businesses would pass it on to a different entity. Now, governments are putting more of this responsibility on companies themselves.

It's also becoming more difficult to qualify for cyber insurance coverage and even harder to actually receive payouts after an incident. MSPs understand what’s required in leveraging cybersecurity frameworks, such as ISO 27001. However, they should regularly check with their customers and see where they're benchmarked against such certification to understand where they are in that continuum. 

Vendor responsibility with security risks is also an important consideration. MSPs are generally responsible for securing their customers’ data and systems. However, the vendor (software provider, cloud storage, etc.) may bear some responsibility when it comes to vendor-supplied products and services.

This is particularly true in the case of cloud-based services. For example, if an MSP uses a cloud-based storage service, the MSP is responsible for securing customer data stored on the service. However, the cloud storage service vendor may also have some responsibility for security risks, depending on the terms of the service.

MSPs need to understand their own responsibility for security risks as well as that of their vendors. This will help them make informed decisions about which products and services to use and how to best protect their clients’ data and systems.

Security risks can have severe consequences for businesses. A successful attack could lead to data loss, financial damage, reputational damage, or even legal liabilities. That’s why MSPs and their clients must take steps to protect themselves from these threats.

Ways to increase your cyber protection heading into 2023

Traditional technologies that help reduce risk to MSPs include firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS), data loss prevention (DLP) solutions, and vulnerability management tools. MSPs should have comprehensive policies and procedures in place to mitigate cybersecurity risks.

Email security, multifactor authentication and backups should be baseline parts of any service package. In addition, MSPs must keep all protected systems and software updated with the latest security patches and have a robust disaster recovery plan established to limit the impact of any successful attacks.

Threat intelligence is critical to any cybersecurity program — providing actionable information about the latest threats and vulnerabilities. By understanding the nature and scope of the threats faced by their organization, MSPs can make better-informed decisions about how to protect their networks and data.

Behavioral analysis technologies offer a threat-agnostic way of detecting potential attacks. By monitoring for unusual activity against known patterns, this approach can prevent a wide range of attacks — even those never seen before. This enables organizations to mitigate risk and protect data in a world of ever-evolving cyberthreats.

Another area that’s promising is the automated containment of incidents. Identifying and isolating affected systems to contain a security incident can be done using automated tools and processes. Once the affected systems have been isolated, you can assess the scope of the incident and determine the best course of action for mitigating it. 

The need for secure communications systems is increasing as the world becomes more interconnected. One way to achieve this is through the use of quantum encryption technologies. Quantum encryption uses the principles of quantum mechanics to encode data in a way that is incredibly difficult to hack. However, several different quantum encryption technologies are under development, and it will likely take some time before they are ready for widespread use. 


Security researchers are worried about a number of different issues right now. These include the increasing sophistication of attacks, the need for better detection and response capabilities, and the challenge of protecting against insider and external threats. 

Service providers are continually at risk from cyberthreats. While most MSPs have some form of security in place, more is needed to protect themselves and their clients. However, MSPs can mitigate attacks by staying up to date on the latest threats and investing in integrated robust security solutions, such as Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud.

Expert security researchers recently discussed the topic of security risk in a recent Acronis-led roundtable session. For more information, view the on-demand recording.

This guest blog is courtesy of Acronis. Read more Acronis guest blogs here. Regularly contributed guest blogs are part of ChannelE2E’s sponsorship program.