As a managed services provider (MSP), you’ve heard loud and clear that cybersecurity is a priority for your clients. They demand effective endpoint security solutions as a part of a comprehensive, layered security strategy and contract your services to monitor activity and alert them when potentially malicious activity takes place. Protecting your clients’ data and their networks has become a routine, albeit critical, part of providing managed services.
But what are you doing to protect your own network?
Be aware that cybercriminals see MSPs as targets that will yield a high return for their efforts. A recent CompTIA study found that 64 percent of organizations are using managed services for at least one IT function. Therefore, instead of targeting just one business and its computing power and data, hackers can multiply potential return by gaining access to an MSP’s network and look for ways to compromise all of their clients — as well as their IP, records, and customers and payment data.
This threat isn’t just hypothetical. It’s real.
Cybersecurity solutions provider Dark Cubed investigated the rate of attacks on MSPs. Dark Cubed’s platform automatically collects anonymized network data for analytics, and using data over several months, the firm found that 100 percent of MSPs in the study, from locations all over the world, had experienced automated attacks, direct attacks or both. One MSP network included in the analysis was the victim of a botnet attack using 20,000 individual IP addresses from 149 countries and 3,607 organizations.
Dark Cubed’s January 2020 report Attacking the Gatekeepers states that these attacks originate from locations around the globe and from all major cloud service providers. The Dark Cubed team adds that many attacks can be traced to nation-state actors and criminal syndicates. In some cases, remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools were weaponized to deliver malware.
Practical Advice for MSPs
MSPs aren’t defenseless against cyberthreats, however. Dark Cubed suggests these steps to minimize the chances of a security breach:
- Ensure all remote access capabilities are accessed via VPN and require multifactor authentication.
- Establish and enforce strong password policies.
- Use service accounts for MSP agents and services.
- Manage access to accounts by setting time of day they can be used and expiration dates that align with your contracts.
- Use architecture that tiers accounts, so accounts that require higher privilege will never be accessible through lower tiers of the network.
- Use a threat analytics solution that alerts you to changes in your network and your customers’ networks.
- Stay on top of alerts from government agencies such as the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive. There’s much more you can do to secure your network. Dark Cubed suggests you refer to NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework.
“A Crisis of Credibility”
In its report, Dark Cubed acknowledges that the pervasive threat of cyberattack has put MSPs in a difficult position. You need to practice what you preach when it comes to cybersecurity, implementing state-of-the-art security solutions, including endpoint protection, firewalls, web security, mobile device security, and data loss prevention solutions, for your own networks. You must, however, balance that need with the costs of your offerings and communicating your security services value proposition in a way that doesn’t trigger your clients looking for more affordable options.
One of Dark Cubed’s MSP users commented, “We are fighting a losing battle.”
Don’t concede defeat. Your expertise in security, finding cost-effective solutions tailored to specific needs, and leveraging the knowledge and support of partners, can help protect your own business as well as your clients.
For more information on the current threat landscape for MSPs and what you can do to protect your network, your clients, and your business, download the Dark Cubed report Attacking the Gatekeepers.