MSPs: Are You Really Capable of Securing Multi-Cloud Environments?

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An overwhelming majority of organizations operate on multi-cloud environments — and for good reason. The use of multiple cloud servers enables organizations to facilitate remote and hybrid workloads, avoid single points of failure and leverage the specific strengths of each cloud vendor it works with.

Scott Barlow, global VP of MSP and cloud alliances, Sophos
Scott Barlow, global VP of MSP and cloud alliances, Sophos

But while it’s not necessarily more difficult to secure multi-cloud environments, there is an added layer of logistics that requires IT and security teams to rethink their security strategies. The problem? The cybersecurity workforce gap grew 26% in 2022 and left employers struggling to fill IT and security roles in their organizations — placing pressure on employees who may already be stretched thin. Meanwhile, threat actors remain hard at work honing the tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) used to infiltrate organizations’ critical infrastructures.

Despite the candle burning at both ends, there is a solution. Managed service providers (MSPs) have an opportunity to act as a strategic guide for their customers by leveraging their expertise and third-party resources.

Multi-Cloud Environments Require Nuanced Defenses

It’s not surprising that organizations are embracing the use of multiple cloud servers. A multi-cloud strategy enables organizations to facilitate remote and hybrid work, which is essential for geographically distributed teams — including the 92 million Americans who had the option to work remotely in 2022. This approach to cloud computing also helps organizations identify the most cost-effective vendors for different types of workloads.

However, despite increased flexibility and scalability, multi-cloud environments require a shift in strategy to maintain a tight, end-to-end security posture. The use of multiple cloud servers means organizations must:

  • Secure applications, processes and data stored in various environments
  • Parse through loads of telemetry data from disparate sources (like email and mobile)
  • Establish a framework for secure data transfers between environments
  • Manage security policies, compliance and configurations across environments
  • Maintain real-time visibility into servers, storage and network elements to monitor for potential security risks

These measures are table stakes in securing multiple cloud servers for both public and private cloud infrastructure. And while simply maintaining visibility into multiple cloud environments is a major feat, IT and security teams must also engage in proactive threat hunting to respond to cyberthreats before they occur — on a 24/7/365 basis.

The reality is that most organizations lack the time and resources to maintain visibility and proactively hunt for threats across multiple environments. MSPs, this is where your expertise comes into play.

4 Ways to Serve as a Strategic Guide for Customers

The shift to multi-cloud environments requires time, resources and expertise that your customers probably lack. This provides an opportunity to help customers reconfigure their security strategies by leveraging your experience and economies of scale.

And with the right third-party tools and services, you can defend customers’ cloud platforms from evolving threats:

  1. Inventory your customers’ environments. It’s important to understand the role you play in your customers’ security strategies before they shift to a multi-cloud architecture. Start by taking stock of every component of their environments, including applications, network elements and even idle servers. Flag elements with areas for improvement and speak with customers to determine how to best address them.
  2. Assess your need for third-party help. Consider the nuanced security needs of a multi-cloud strategy — like data aggregation and constant visibility into environments. Then, ask questions like: How many people do you need to perform these practices? Do you have the resources to manage them? There’s a good chance you’ll be better off with external help.
  3. Identify a vendor with the right expertise. If researching security vendors is on your to-do list, there are several considerations to keep in mind. Look for providers with cloud security and cloud posture management capabilities, as well as experience with public cloud security.

It’s also important to identify vendors with knowledge and experience specific to your customers’ industries so they can help maintain regulatory compliance across workloads.

And make sure there’s no overlap between your offerings and the vendor’s — their capabilities should complement yours. Lean on Managed Detection and Response (MDR). The intensifying cyberthreat landscape means customers need continuous threat monitoring. As a result, the MDR market is forecasted to reach $21.93 billion by 2030. MDR can help you identify and neutralize attacks by leveraging its 24/7/365 threat hunting, detection and response capabilities.

Don’t forget that MDR vendors who can aggregate and analyze telemetry data from different network sources will provide the most accurate and effective solution.

As we continue to transition away from single-cloud environments, you play an increasingly important role in ensuring your customers have the right security strategies and defenses in place. Take time to assess customers’ security requirements and concerns and determine whether third-party help is needed to address them. With a thoughtful and strategic approach, you can help customers protect their sensitive data while boosting their confidence in your abilities.

Scott Barlow is VP, Global MSP & Cloud Alliances, at Sophos. Read more Sophos guest blogs here. Regularly contributed guest blogs are part of MSSP Alert’s sponsorship program.