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The MSP’s Blueprint for Cyber Resilience

Cyber resilience is the ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from adverse events such as cyberattacks, natural disasters, and equipment and communication failures.

Acronis Guest Blogger

October 21, 2021

5 Min Read
cyber-resilience
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For many businesses, downtime and data loss are simply not an option–but merely rejecting these scenarios doesn’t preclude them from happening. The old adage that “failing to plan is planning to fail” is even more true when it comes to cybersecurity.

Unfortunately, the ever-evolving nature of the modern threat landscape presents a greater challenge to today’s increasingly data-reliant organizations. SMBs, and the managed service providers (MSPs) they rely on, need concrete cyber resilience strategies that help them reduce their vulnerability to threats.

The Modern Threat Landscape

Despite the troubling headlines, few people who aren’t directly involved in security realize that cyberattacks have become big business during the last few years. Estimates indicate that global ransomware payments amount to $20 billion per year, a number expected to rise to about $265 billion within a decade. Average payouts have also gone up by over 171% in the last two years, reaching over $300,000.

Smaller businesses are at particular risk. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, “88% of small business owners felt their business was vulnerable to a cyberattack.” Yet these are the very companies that are most likely to lack a comprehensive cybersecurity team, the knowledge of how to begin mitigating the threat or a security-focused MSP to help them.

Today’s hackers are no longer the iconic “guy in a black hoodie.” They are sophisticated, well-funded and well-equipped–and they’re going after your clients’ data.

No organization is immune. Helping clients survive in this threat environment means being able to predict, withstand, and adapt to challenges.

Building Cyber Resilience

Cyber resilience is a measure of your ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from adverse events such as cyberattacks, natural disasters, equipment and communication failures, and more.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stated in 2019 that “every company is a software company.” Think you’re not in the software business? You’re probably wrong. Today, software doesn’t just drive productivity, it unites almost every department of an organization. Everyday processes are both defined by, and dependent on, software.

What this means is that as an MSP, you can’t afford not to understand your clients’ IT infrastructure underlying their everyday business activities. And as your clients grow, you’ll naturally want to add layers of protection, recognizing the criticality of software to your services.

Understand Your Clients’ Unique Needs

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits all data protection and security strategy. No set of policies or procedures can be created that suits all businesses, so it’s up to you to determine, in collaboration with all departments and stakeholders, what the most vital resources and processes actually are.

Build a holistic view of your clients, making sure to:

  • Survey the client’s entire organization and document key processes

  • Evaluate the types and severities of risks the client is most likely to encounter

  • Conduct a risk assessment to identify vulnerabilities and analyze potential business impacts

Balance Security and Protection

Don’t assume that data protection and data security are the same thing.

  • Data protection keeps clients’ valuable data backed up and available in the event of a disturbance.

  • Data security keeps clients’ data safe against online threats, relying on up-to-date threat intelligence.

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Collectively, delivering effective data protection and data security requires service providers to:

  • Support creation and protection of backups.

  • Implement a comprehensive patching program covering all client endpoints.

  • Select tools and applications that provide automation wherever possible.

  • Adopt an integrated cyber protection platform that minimizes the headache of configuration and maintenance.

Adapt to the New Normal

Old-school, tool-based security strategies no longer cut it when protecting clients with a massively distributed workforce working from home–especially those with BYOD policies.

To secure your clients in a remote-first world with evolving IT standards, master these essential capabilities:

  • Gain as comprehensive an understanding as possible of your client’s entire environment (range of endpoints, devices, etc. that require protection).

  • Select a strategy to protect all endpoints while minimizing the risk of lateral attacks from within their network.

  • Wherever possible, implement a zero-trust approach that limits access to confidential or sensitive data.

Don’t Forget the Cloud

Perhaps the biggest mistake most organizations make in migrating to the cloud is assuming that SaaS app providers handle security. In fact, the risks increase as your clients migrate more and more to cloud-based platforms and their cloud posture becomes more complex.

Most SMBs aren’t aware of the security hazards inherent to cloud-based apps, even Google or Microsoft’s productivity and collaboration tools. As a service provider, your role is to:

  • Educate clients about the risks associated with common SaaS applications, especially email tools, due to the rise in social engineering/phishing attacks.

  • Enable multi-factor authentication for all SaaS apps wherever this isn’t done automatically.

Plan for Disaster

While both data protection and data security are essential, neither fully prepares you for what needs to be done when disaster does strike. For that eventuality, you need to provide comprehensive plans for backup, recovery and remediation:

  • Prepare a range of recovery methods, including offline backups or disaster recovery solutions that are inaccessible to attackers.

  • Create a plan for a graceful shutdown in the event of a breach or disaster.

  • Test incident plans with clients regularly.

  • Ensure that your recovery offering includes–once the situation is resolved or remediated–a plan to assess resilience, derive lessons learned and implement changes accordingly.

In theory, working with an MSP can help resource-strapped SMBs level the playing field, letting them outsource some or all of their IT management and security needs. But not all MSPs are equally qualified to play this role. Any provider hoping to find success must deliver a broader range of offerings to help them stand out from the crowd and establish their expertise in the key domain of security.

Kris Schulze is the Disaster Recovery Program Manager at Acronis. A writer and marketing professional, she has published pieces on a wide variety of topics in B2B technology, including disaster recovery, data privacy, and ransomware.

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

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