Cybersecurity is now a top priority for SMBs worldwide

Indeed, the second annual ConnectWise SMB State of Cybersecurity report found that more than three-quarters of SMB respondents were worried they would experience an attack in the next six months, with 91% saying they would consider using or moving to a new IT service provider if it offered the “right” cybersecurity solution. 

With cybersecurity taking centre stage as far as SMBs are concerned, today’s service providers need to dedicate time and resources to delivering the solutions their clients want and need. Delivering such high profile and mission-critical value-add services to this important cohort of clients can seem like a daunting proposition.  

However, by taking a methodical seven-step approach, Technology Services Providers (TSPs) can build a robust cybersecurity practice that protects their customers’ businesses from cybercriminals – and securely lockdown their own environment too. 

Step 1 Understand your own risk posture 

Holding the keys to dozens if not hundreds of organisations that they manage and support, TSPs are increasingly in the line of fire as far as cybercriminals are concerned. TSPs will need to have the right cybersecurity tools, know-how, and practices in place to counter the rising tide of threats and ensure they are not easy prey for cybercriminals who are waiting in the wings. Conducting an internal assessment to determine potential security gaps is a vital first step for understanding their own security posture – and by implication, that of their customers. 

Step 2 Upskill staff and adopt a ‘security first’ mindset 

In addition to training staff so they can operate and interact with security solutions and getting them certified in key cybersecurity skills, TSPs need to review and re-architect their systems with security in mind. That means implementing things like multi-factor authentication and security keys for single-sign on that will eliminate a lot of potential vulnerabilities and ensuring the basics like good password hygiene training for employees – and customers – is in place. 

Step 3 Define a ‘go to market’ strategy 

Determining which services to monetise, and which to outsource can seem like a complex proposition. Ultimately, clients want to ensure their servers, users, devices and connectivity are always available, secure and supported. Foundational cybersecurity services such as firewalls and antivirus will likely be well within the capabilities of TSPs. But when it comes to providing robust network-level defence, SOC/SIEM is becoming a must have, as is the addition of XDR/MDR/EDR layered tools.  

Fortunately, TSPs can now tap into ‘defence in depth’ tools and easy-to-deploy managed solutions that feature dark web scanning and monitoring, threat detection and response for Microsoft and Azure AD, advanced endpoint protection, 24/7 SOC support and cybersecurity risk assessments. Making it easy to jumpstart the delivery of advanced cybersecurity solutions to customers, TSPs can scale up their offerings as their cybersecurity practice matures. 

Step 4 Start the conversation 

Having engaged a TSP to take care of their environment, many SMBs often believe they are now completely risk free and secure. Initiating open and transparent conversations about how their increased reliance on online services and BYOD means they will need to assess everything from their network and backup capacities to how they secure devices and services. These discussions will be helpful in clarifying where everyone’s responsibilities begin and end and provide a platform for TSPs to identify appropriate solutions for each client. 

Step 5 Educate and support clients 

With 79% of SMBs planning to make hybrid or remote working policies a permanent fixture, TSPs have a golden opportunity to demonstrate the value of working with a proactive partner that’s dedicated to putting its customers interests first. Putting together a plan that helps clients improve their security posture for 2021 will ensure they have the endpoint detection, password policies, multi-factor authentication and mobile device security in place that’s essential for remote working. 

Step 6 Initiate frontline monitoring services 

Threat detection and response is a key service that will help clients prevent and remediate cyberattacks fast. Core detection and response services can include monitoring and analysing logs, SIEM management, customising alerts for individual users and devices as well as dark web scanning to detect stolen credentials and DNS protection. Offering threat intelligence as part of a holistic IT management platform will also help proactively identify actions that will shore up technical defences ahead of emerging threats on the horizon. 

Step 7 Navigating a growth path 

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Regular reviews and reporting on key metrics that demonstrate the progress of the nascent cybersecurity practice will be key. Alongside identifying opportunities for growth and articulating the immediate mission and longer term vision, boardroom leaders will need to analyse the revenue contribution – assessing both profitability and where openings for higher margins lie. 

It’s time to get off the sidelines 

TSPs will need to get out of their comfort zone fast if they’re to capture this significant market opportunity. Not knowing where to start or feeling intimidated by the investment involved in acquiring the skills, setting up a SOC, or acquiring the marketing prowess shouldn’t be a barrier to success. By partnering with the right vendors that can support them in their mission and offer a cybersecurity practice framework that gives them access to the tools, managed services, funding and sales resources they’ll need, they can fast track their ambitions and build a practice utilising a methodical step-by-step approach. 

About the Author

Gregg Lalle is SVP International Sales and Strategy at ConnectWise. Born out of a single software solution designed to help MSPs gain control of their help desk and billing, ConnectWise has grown into a robust platform of software built for technology solutions providers (TSPs) to run their entire as-a-service business. With products aiding in business management, remote monitoring and management, remote control and access, quote and proposal automation, and cybersecurity risk assessments, integrations with hundreds of key vendors, plus the largest and most engaged community in the industry, ConnectWise has built a platform for The IT Nation.

Featured image: ©Skorzwiak