When antivirus is not enough: Selling layered security services

Danny Bradbury

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are experts at selling online services to clients. One of the most promising market segments is managed security, but how can you get a piece of the action? Savvy MSPs can evolve into Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) and increase their growth trajectory, just so long as they adopt a mature and comprehensive approach to the market.

There are healthy profits to be made in the MSSP market. Infonetics Research, part of market research giant IHS, said that global revenues from managed security services total $15.8 billion worldwide in 2014, representing a 10% increase from 2013.

Managed-Security-ServicesCloud-based services were a big part of that, totalling $7.2 billion (that’s 46% of the market). Cloud security services are also overtaking their counterpart, customer premise equipment (CPE) managed security, which uses hardware installed at customer sites. The cloud MSSP business grew 13.5% in 2014, and will surpass the CPE business in three years, the firm said.

If you thought you could reinvent yourself as an MSSP with a simple antivirus offering, though, think again. Capitalizing on this growing market requires a more full-featured service set. Securing your customers’ computers isn’t just about scanning for viruses anymore. Instead, mature managed security services require a multi-layered approach, in which different security offerings complement each other.

Antivirus technology has evolved over time, and offers an excellent form of protection, but it has its challenges. It still relies heavily on matching malware against known signatures – and with 200,000 new strains each day, that’s a tall order.

Some bad software may well slip through, and truly successful MSSPs will have other forms of protection to complement antivirus scanners. Consider this list of additional services to help put your clients’ minds at rest:

Email security

Malware is typically delivered via email. Even today, thousands of people are opening infected email attachments sent in phishing emails, and infecting their corporate networks with botnets and crypto-ransomware. Email scanning software can help to catch spam, stopping the vehicle for malicious attacks before it even hits a customer’s service.

Web protection

Malicious software doesn’t always arrive in attachments. It can often be delivered via deliberately malicious or infected websites. Links to these sites can be sent to enterprise users via phishing emails, or they can be embedded in legitimate websites via attacks on advertising networks, in a process known as ‘malvertising’. No matter how a victim’s browser reaches a malicious site, it can be a disaster for the corporate network.

Web protection uses a constantly updated list of web domains and IP addresses associated with malicious activity to stop corporate browsers visiting dangerous destinations.

Patch management

Attackers often work by exploiting bugs that make popular software products vulnerable. The Australian Signals Directorate has said that 85% of the cyber intrusions it sees could be stopped if only people updated their software promptly when a fix appeared. Patch management may fall under the change management category for many, but it is an intrinsic part of cyber security. An MSSP that understands how to automate updates across a client’s software portfolio has a powerful sales proposition.


Finally, the ability to restore lost or corrupted information quickly and efficiently is an invaluable part of any cyber security operation. The availability of information and services, and the integrity of the data supporting them, are just as important a part of the cyber security landscape as confidentiality. An MSSP that can backup and restore data with confidence gives its customers something that is almost impossible to value: peace of mind.

Offered in a complementary fashion, these layered services provide a whole that is more than the sum of their parts. Packaged into a managed services offering, they provide true protection that goes beyond any single-function point solution.

In an environment where hundreds of thousands of records across the world are compromised in corporate environments each day, a layered set of managed security services delivered via the cloud is something that can truly generate value for both the service provider and their customer.