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Cybersecurity Power Panel: China, AI, Pose Big Threats to MSPs, SMB Customers

Focus less on tools and more on strategy, said cybersecurity power panelists at CompTIA ChannelCon.

Craig Galbraith

August 2, 2023

3 Min Read
Cyber Power Panel at ChannelCon 2023

COMPTIA CHANNELCON — Cybersecurity conversations are front and center at this week’s CompTIA ChannelCon in Las Vegas, with a “power panel” noting that security will never again be merely a secondary consideration for MSPs and their customers.

Despite high-profile breaches or attacks on key channel vendors such as Kaseya and ConnectWise, Wes Spencer (second from left, above), VP at identity access management provider CyberFox, says despite all of the costs in damages, the industry – and the entire U.S. for that matter – hasn’t seen the “single, cataclysmic, hurricane-like cyber event” that could wake everyone up to the extreme danger that lurks.

Joy Beland (far right, above), VP of partner strategy and cybersecurity education at Summit7, a Microsoft gold partner focused on the defense industry, was quite blunt about where that major cyber event might originate.

“China,” she said. “We are f****d. The fact we can’t even get people to take TikTok off their phones … we need [MSPs] to stand up and do what the U.S. government won’t do” — limiting the access and impact that nation-states have on North American technology, she said.

Cybersecurity Power Panel: Focus on Strategy

Cybersecurity Ventures predicts spending on cybercrime to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025, presenting a massive opportunity for channel partners to grab a piece of the pie, the power panel noted. But to get it, MSPs and other partners might need to take a different approach than one hyperfocused on tools.

“We need to talk to customers on a level they understand and in a way that means something to them,” said cybersecurity power panelist Nett Lynch (second from right), vCISO at VC3, an MSSP. We shouldn’t be talking tools; we should be talking about an overarching strategy.”

If a customer wants to talk numbers – namely how much cyber protection costs – then quantify the costs of a cyberattack for them, one that could put them out of business, she said. After all, life is getting easier for malicious hackers.

“Cybercrime is easier today,” said Lynch. “You can outsource almost every part of a cyberattack. You can go on the web and buy instructions on how to get into an environment. It’s so easy to be a cybercriminal now. You don’t have to be an expert on how networks work. You can outsource that.”

Small and medium businesses (SMBs) increasingly are more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Even after years of warnings, these panelists are still hearing the same refrain from their smaller customers: “It won’t happen to me. The bad guys don’t want my data.”

“It’s a fight every day to convince customers that threat actors are moving down market,” said Jason Slagle, president at IT consultant CNWR. “Stop treating technology like it’s a toaster. Treat it more like car that needs an oil change and regular maintenance.”

As cybersecurity has permeated the technology sales conversation throughout the channel, it has done so at ChannelCon as well.


ChannelCon AI panel (left to right): CompTIA’s Todd Thibodeaux and Tracy Pound, Allyance Communications’ Quy Nguyen, Sophos’ Scott Barlow and SAP’s John Scola.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to change how partners talk to customers about security, said Scott Barlow, VP, global MSP and cloud alliances, Sophos, during a keynote panel on AI. The security company channel leader noted the relative lack of attention mobile security has received — but that will have to change, particularly because AI has the ability to change the misspellings and other red flags that often help us identify phishing texts and emails on our mobile devices.

“Security is going to extend down to the mobile application,” said Barlow. “We’re going to see a lot of mobile applications that really need to be secured moving forward.”

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Craig Galbraith or connect with him on LinkedIn.





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About the Author(s)

Craig Galbraith

Editorial Director, Channel Futures

Craig Galbraith is the editorial director for Channel Futures, joining the team in 2008. Before that, he spent more than 11 years as an anchor, reporter and managing editor in television newsrooms in North Dakota and Washington state. Craig is a proud Husky, having graduated from the University of Washington. He makes his home in the Phoenix area.

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