ConnectWise Provides Cybersecurity Tools and Education for a COVID Era

The tools and education, realeased at IT Nation Explore last week, will help partners position security during COVID.

Kris Blackmon, Head of Channel Communities

June 29, 2020

4 Min Read
Cybersecurity in the time of COVID

ConnectWise released new cybersecurity tools and education at its IT Nation Explore event last week to help partners position security during COVID. Company executives say MSPs need to take a more personal approach during this uncertain and frightening time for customers.


Continuum’s Brian Downey

“No MSP should look at this event, frankly, as a sales conversation,” says Brian Downey, VP of Product-Security at ConnectWise. “It’s something they can truly do to help their clients. If someone tried to sell me a bottle of water when I’m thirsty, it’s something I’d be happy about. That’s the way it is with a lot of MSPs and their clients right now.”

Sell Cybersecurity on Risk, Not Fear

Clients are inundated with frightening cautionary tales about increased and different security risks. Partners have to walk a fine line in that sales conversation. So they’re asking ConnectWise for tools and education to position cybersecurity during the COVID epidemic. In a time when we’re all living in some degree of uncertainty, MSPs are rightly concerned about “selling on fear.”


Continuum’s Jay Ryerse

Jay Ryerse, ConnectWise’s Vice President of Cybersecurity Initiatives, says partners should take the time to understand a client’s unique risk profile. Many businesses made the shift to remote work in a hurry, without having time to adequately prepare the appropriate security protocols or train employees in good user behavior working from home.

“A client can have half of their critical data in cloud locations like Google Docs, QuickBooks or Nobody is paying attention to how those are being managed or how secure they are is of little interest,” says Ryerse. “Other parts of their data might be in the office, might be on laptops, might be on mobile phones.”

Working from home also comes with unanticipated risk factors. Children, for example, might be using their parents’ work systems to browse the internet.

“We know that there’s been a spike in different attack vectors with COVID. All of a sudden, the MSPs that hadn’t…thought through the full security deployment have a new level of complexity with work from home becoming a short-term reality as well as a long-term concept,” says Downey. “[Partners] have the ability to provide some unique value that they might not have been providing in the past.”

ConnectWise says starting with a risk assessment is the best way to objectively determine a business’s true security needs. It also positions the conversation as one about education rather than sales.

New Cybersecurity Tools & Education

ConnectWise wants to provide its partners tools and education to help with cybersecurity conversations during COVID. According to Ryerse, it has put more than 3,000 partners through its certified security education. The goal is to teach MSPs “what good looks like” in a sales conversation.

“We’re talking about moving away from fear, uncertainty and doubt and start talking about the impact on small businesses of cyberattacks,” explains Ryerse. “It’s about changing that conversation from ‘there are scary things happening in the world’ to ‘what’s the impact to your business?’”

Once the partner is educated about how to drive the conversation, it’s up to Downey’s team to enable it. ConnectWise’s new Fortify for Assessment tool, says Downey, is focused on just that.

“It looks at the high-level risks, but it puts them in terms that someone without a security background or an IT background is going to be able to understand,” says Downey. “It helps the MSP very quickly get a client-facing report. A report that’s going to highlight some of those risks and be able to grab the SMB’s attention.”

The tool includes data like dark web information that’s palatable for end users. ConnectWise has also added vulnerability assessments to help MSPs establish a starting point to the security conversation.

Downey’s team wants to equip partners with a starter kit that gives MSPs access to education, seats in certification courses and ConnectWise’s security tools, including its MSP+ Cybersecurity Framework.

Ryerse says the new Cybersecurity Framework walks partners through a security maturity model of good, better and best. It provides service providers playbooks that show how to implement the practices recommended in the framework. ConnectWise’s certification courses provide ongoing education for MSPs to handle security at scale.

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About the Author(s)

Kris Blackmon

Head of Channel Communities, Zift Solutions

Kris Blackmon is head of channel communities at Zift Solutions. She previously worked as chief channel officer at JS Group, and as senior content director at Informa Tech and project director of the MSP 501er Community. Blackmon is chair of CompTIA's Channel Development Advisory Council and operates KB Consulting. You may follow her on LinkedIn and @zift on X.

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