As mentioned earlier, compliance often drives investments in security. Some businesses only focus on clearing the minimum compliance guidelines. However, compliance and security aren’t twins—they’re cousins. Clearing the compliance bar doesn’t mean you’re safe from cybercriminals (or data breaches or, more importantly, lawsuits).
To truly protect your customers, you need to offer a more robust security program. Our previous cybertips from my colleagues during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month offer a broad perspective on building out a good security program. Regardless, I think it’s worth reiterating some points:
- Focus on the fundamentals: You can prevent many attacks simply by practicing the basics well. Patch often to help ensure all your systems and software have the latest security updates, back up data often so that in the event of a successful attack you can quickly roll back to a clean system without losing too much data, use web protection to prevent users from stumbling on bad sites, and make sure to employ email security. Additionally, while antivirus can help you spot and remediate issues, an endpoint protection solution that uses AI and machine learning to detect potential threats and active attacks on your customers’ machines is much more effective in the face of such a rapidly changing threat landscape.
- Look internally: Many businesses spend a lot of time preventing external threats. However, insiders play roles in a large portion of data breaches, whether by accident or by malice. So, make sure to put in controls and safeguards around insiders both at your customers’ organizations and in your own MSP. Try implementing a good password management tool that lets you restrict data access to a need-to-use basis and also lets you quickly grant or revoke access as needed.
- Know your threats: Defeating cybercriminals means knowing how to adapt to their threats and tactics. Whether it’s common issues like email threats, old standards with new twists like ransomware leaving behind additional malware to extend an attack’s shelf-life, or emerging issues like living-off-the-land attacks, try to stay in the loop by following the security press. Additionally, endpoint protection solutions that incorporate AI and machine learning can help you detect suspicious behavior on an endpoint that could be the sign of a new style of attack. So make sure to put these in your arsenal.
- Think strategically: Individual tools and tactics help, but to protect your customers, they need to roll up into a larger security strategy. Before setting policies for each customer, try to determine their key assets and accounts. From there, you can put extra safeguards around the top 20% that pose the greatest risk to the business, while making life more convenient for the remaining 80% of the employees.
- Practice makes perfect: Once you’ve built your security strategy, make sure to train both your own technicians as well as your customers’ employees. But remember that training doesn’t end with one session—you need to build an ongoing culture of security. That takes practice and reminders. For customers, try to send periodic best practice email reminders around different topics like recognizing scams and phishing or password guidelines. For your own team, make sure you have an incident-response plan in place so everyone knows their roles, and consider running practice drills for security incidents ahead of time so people remain calm under pressure.
Beyond that, I want to mention one important point—as the MSP and trusted advisor, security and compliance begins with you. You have to set a good example by making sure your own MSP meets high security standards (typically higher than your customers’). So don’t neglect your own security policies—you never want to be the weak link in a data breach for your customers.
Compliance is an MSP’s best friend
As the public grows more aware of data breaches and their potential ramifications, it’s a safe bet that we’ll see data laws increase in scope. These laws can potentially lead to new responsibilities and new business for MSPs. But don’t forget to remind your clients (and yourself) that, compliance alone doesn’t make a business secure. Preventing data breaches and cyberattacks requires a fully integrated, well-considered security strategy.
Note: This is the fifth and final part of our National Cybersecurity Awareness Month series. You can read all the posts here.
Speaking of compliance, SolarWinds® Threat Monitor is a security information and event management (SIEM) solution designed to help you detect advanced, active threats to your managed networks and, ultimately, assist in your customers’ compliance efforts. And with our Threat Monitoring Service Program, you can have one of our approved security providers handle the back-end of running the SIEM tool while you maintain the front-end of the customer relationship. Learn more today.
Tim Brown is VP of Security for SolarWinds MSP. He has over 20 years of experience developing and implementing security technology, including identity and access management, vulnerability assessment, security compliance, threat research, vulnerability management, encryption, managed security services, and cloud security. Tim’s experience has made him an in-demand expert on cybersecurity, and has taken him from meeting with members of Congress and the Senate to the Situation Room in the White House. Additionally, Tim has been central in driving advancements in identity frameworks, has worked with the US government on security initiatives, and holds 18 patents on security-related topics.