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May 21, 2019
By Dror Liwer
The Senate Small Business Committee advanced a highly anticipated cybersecurity bill in March to bolster small businesses in the face of growing cyber threats, a step forward in the cybersecurity skirmishes. And with good reason. News of two events with major implications for small businesses – the breach of Microsoft email accounts and the state of China’s continuous cyberattacks on U.S. companies — broke recently, underscoring the depths to which attackers are willing to go. These attacks should come as no surprise; if anything, the stories reaffirm the need for small businesses to have a cybersecurity plan in place.
Due primarily to budget and internal bandwidth, many small businesses have historically turned to managed service providers (MSPs) to help oversee technology implementation and management. For the most part, these relationships have proven mutually beneficial, as SMBs are able to generate a technological competitive edge at an affordable cost while MSPs enjoy decent margins on setup and maintenance. But, of late, the MSP-end-user relationship appears to have hit a point of conflict, as small businesses find themselves increasingly at risk of cyberattack and questioning whether or not they’re adequately protected.
A recent study commissioned by Continuum found that a staggering “9 in 10 small businesses would hire a new MSP if they had the right cybersecurity solutions.” While we don’t know for certain based on this survey that 9 in 10 companies have lost trust in the cybersecurity capabilities of their MSP, we can in fact infer that many SMBs have questions and doubts about their company’s digital protections.
Regardless, small businesses have made it clear — they expect their MSP partner to be as buttoned-up with cybersecurity tools and services as it is with network setup and tech support. And they won’t tolerate anything less.
MSPs should elevate their cybersecurity service offerings for SMBs. Because comprehensive cybersecurity can be expensive and complex, small businesses have traditionally been left to rely on firewalls, antivirus and other point solutions that don’t offer the seamless, all-in-one protection, detection and response services they actually need. In other situations, the lack of cybersecurity education has put business leaders in the precarious position of having to make a choice among multiple vendors all claiming to offer solutions specific to small businesses, without truly knowing which company, if any, actually offers a solution for small business.
Increasingly, small businesses know they need cybersecurity — 78% of SMBs surveyed are planning to invest more in their cybersecurity in the next year and 25% are willing to pay about 25% more for an MSP that offers the right cybersecurity, according to Credit Union Times (registration required). “We have seen firsthand that the No. 1 reason MSPs lose business today is over concerns about cybersecurity,” said Michael George, Continuum CEO.
To gain and sustain SMB market share, MSPs will not get too much competition from cybersecurity vendors themselves, as most focus on selling to Fortune 500s and enterprises that have both gaudy budgets and the staff to maintain the technology internally, even though threats to small businesses are as prolific and frequent, if not more so. And while some of these same vendors claim to sell solutions for SMBs, most of them are masquerading solutions that only an …
… enterprise actually needs, leaving small businesses looking for more.
While falling victim to cyberattack might not monetarily cost corporations much, many small businesses would crumble. According to a Cisco special report, 53% of SMBs have experienced a data breach with more than half of those attacks resulting in more than $500,000 worth of damages – more than enough to put many SMBs out of business within a year. Additionally, only 33 percent of small businesses believe that they could remain profitable for more than three months if they permanently lost access to their essential data.
Simply put, small businesses need a cybersecurity hero. MSPs have the ability to become just that. Here’s how:
Actively stress the importance of cybersecurity. Let clients and potential customers know that cybersecurity is always top of mind, positioning company leaders as thought experts who can be trusted.
Offer a cybersecurity assessment service. Many SMBs don’t know where to start when it comes to protecting their business from potential cyberattacks. Providing an assessment that includes security suggestions can go a long way in cementing a partnership.
Make it simple. Cybersecurity can be very intimidating for a small business, potentially leading to denial or procrastination in establishing a cyber plan. MSPs can ease that stress by offering an end-to-end service that outsources all of the security monitoring and remediation, providing peace of mind to the customer.
Be transparent. Offer a weekly cyber report that will give the customer a sense of what happened during the week – what potential issues were discovered and how they were handled by technology and your team.
In addition, to deliver the best service for SMB clients, MSPs should provide security services that not only identify risks, but automatically mitigate them. This gets ahead of the data breach and minimizes the need for human intervention from both the end user and the MSP security specialists.
Small businesses face unprecedented risk, and no entity is better positioned to help them than MSPs.
Dror Liwer is the co-founder and CISO of Coronet, a leading provider of data breach protection for companies that use the cloud. He brings more than 25 years of technology, security and business development experience to Coronet, including posts as CIO of the IDF’s Military Police, CEO at Pose, a venture partner at RDSeed, general manager at IXI Mobile and senior VP at Publicis and Wunderman. Follow Liwer or Coronet on LinkedIn or on Twitter @coronetworks.
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