Most small- to medium-sized businesses – and even larger ones – lack the ability to hire full-time cybersecurity experts. But a managed services provider (MSP) has a bank of experience within its team dedicated to providing ongoing guidance for companies and the ability to share the cost across multiple clients. As a result, companies are better equipped to address vulnerabilities and respond quickly should an attack occur.
Deep knowledge of the threat landscape
IT is largely about sharing information. Updates, tools and resources, strategies to better streamline projects – all help IT leaders be more effective. The same is true for the rise of cybersecurity threats. In the last few weeks, ZAG shared the risks associated with using Google Chrome and a few weeks ago, reached out to clients to discuss the Print Nightmare vulnerability that was being exploited. Having an MSP stay abreast of these threats and take swift action to address them for the client saves time and resources from within the organization – and ultimately keeps the company safer. Effective IT doesn’t just react to disasters, it detects potential threats.
Ongoing oversight for technology systems and maintenance
One of the biggest benefits of engaging with an MSP is the ongoing oversight of technology systems. Things like periodic maintenance run according to a schedule, installing patches for software, and (as mentioned above), staying aware of current cyberattacks in progress, all directly benefit the cybersecurity of an organization by limiting the access of attackers to vulnerable systems. To take it a step further, MSPs are also evaluating technology regularly to ensure the best possible results for the organization as it relates to security.
Effective MSPs offer monitoring, alerting, management, and remediation of server and network-level issues, as well as remote user support and on-site services from a team of skilled and knowledgeable solutions architects and engineers.
Prioritizing projects and budget planning
Outsourcing the knowledge and expertise around business operations and technology to an MSP can shift an IT leaders’ focus to more strategic initiatives for the business. The MSP’s role is to ensure that the technology investments and project planning – along with the important discussion of the budget – aligns with the organization’s strategic goals. When investing in tools that directly contribute to the cybersecurity of a company, having a partner that is able to determine the kind of technology needed, training required, and compatibility with other systems, can make this more streamlined in the long run and directly impact the department’s ability to remain secure.
Incident response planning and execution
While engaging with an MSP can help protect an organization through ongoing vigilance and maintenance, the threat landscape is increasingly complex and sophisticated – and incidents stemming from phishing attacks or ransomware are on the rise. There is significant value that an MSP can bring in preparing an organization for a potential attack or incident to occur. An experienced MSP will bring a response framework to the table, complete with the necessary steps to ensure proper incident response planning, disaster recovery, and business continuity best practices and procedures to limit downtime or eliminate it altogether.
Relationships with key vendors
MSPs have the advantage of bringing established relationships with vendor partners that may have more focused cybersecurity resources in the event of a cyber incident. For example, security operations-as-a-service (SOCaaS) companies like Arctic Wolf and Rapid7 may not be actively engaged with most IT departments in a smaller organization, but working with an MSP can help an organization identify whether these tools should be used when an incident occurs. From our experience, IT departments are often overloaded with their day-to-day tasks and typically don’t have time to build these relationships. An MSP’s value is the ability to do so.
Focusing on business continuity
Going beyond support and maintenance, a good MSP will talk to you about more than just technology – they will discuss your business and what it takes to keep it up and running. This means not only covering the disaster recovery planning for the IT department but incorporating a business continuity plan that encompasses everyone within your business, plus external stakeholders and how to communicate with them. They will have experience in business operations, not just IT operations.
More importantly, the MSP should be able to provide a framework and best practices for continuing production and meeting the needs of customers. They’re going to have policies and incident management procedures ready to go and be able to modify those based on each individual client’s needs.
Executing best practices for cybersecurity protection
For many industries, there are best practices for doing business. Within IT, adhering to best practices and standards is critical to the safety of an organization. ZAG has documented more than 200 procedures, policies, and best practices followed throughout every engagement. From disaster recovery practices to ongoing management musts, the guidelines serve as a roadmap for work, surrounding every client with the resources and service they need to succeed.
Many of these best practices are essential for strengthening cybersecurity. For example, the use of multi-factor authentication (MFA). While many consider MFA to be too inconvenient for users, it’s the role of the MSP to communicate the risks associated with not using the additional protection by saying, “It’s not more inconvenient than having to recover from a cyberattack – and here are some examples.”
MSPs play a large role in keeping businesses safe from a cyberattack, but they can also provide valuable business guidance and insight to help prepare an organization for what happens when an incident occurs. Whether it’s a system failure, vendor/supply chain incident, or ransomware attack, having the knowledge and expertise of an MSP can be invaluable. Learn more here.
*Written with editorial support and technical knowledge from Karl Braun, Operations Strategist, ZAG Technical Services