How Can Managed Service Providers Guide Customers to Better Compliance?

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As the role of governmental regulatory bodies keeps increasing, impacting businesses of all sizes and in all sectors, compliance becomes more complex. Not only do regulations vary widely across a variety of clients, those rules are also constantly evolving and come with hidden costs and technology requirements — and failure to comply with them can land businesses in both legal and financial hot water.

As resource-constrained small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) struggle to keep up with compliance requirements and regulations, they are increasingly turning to MSPs to handle this necessary but unglamorous side of their business. But that’s no small task. Keeping your MSP team up-to-date and fluent in the latest compliance developments while also managing all of the technical functions for which you’ve been hired is a constant challenge, and one that might require some extra assistance.

How MSPs Can Get Started With Compliance Management

If compliance management isn’t a regular focus for your MSP, figuring out where to begin in a complex and constantly changing field can be a challenge. Every industry and business comes with its own unique compliance considerations. To follow are a few solid rules of thumb.

Understand the Compliance Regulations for the Industries You Serve

Industry-specific regulations are the trickiest part of compliance management for many organizations. Before attempting to address a business’s compliance needs, it’s important to get up to speed on the particular rules of your industry. For example:

  • Healthcare providers need to be mindful of a number of patient privacy measures, most notably the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as well as training certifications.
  • Businesses in the payment card industry (PCI) not only need to abide by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), but also often have complex compliance requirements in their contracts with card networks, merchant service providers, and payment service providers.
  • Manufacturing businesses have an increasing number of regulations they must meet to maintain compliance, especially those that contract with the Department of Defense, which include Defense Federal Acquisition, Regulation Supplement (DFARS) and Cybersecurity Maturity Model (CMMC).
  • Banks and financial services organizations are often subject to different sets of complex financial regulations for the various states, countries, and industries with which they do business.

Follow a Framework Yourself

For an MSP hoping to guide customers through compliance management, it’s a good idea to assemble a framework of your plans that lays out a step-by-step approach to keeping them on the right side of relevant regulations. Ensure that the services you offer map to a framework that addresses/encompasses other regulations.

Following the framework of controls detailed by the Center for Internet Security (CIS) or the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are excellent places to start.

Identify Gaps in Your Customer’s Cybersecurity Programs

It’s a good idea to provide each customer with a thorough assessment of their cybersecurity program and analyze how it aligns to the controls within the frameworks they’re required to follow. Identifying security gaps and providing a plan for addressing them is an excellent way to get out in front of compliance concerns.

Offer a Key Set of Services

There are services that address multiple compliance frameworks that any reputable MSP should be able to offer to their customers. Letting your customer know exactly what you can do for them in terms of compliance in the most specific terms possible goes a long way toward giving them the peace of mind they need from you. A few core solutions and services that every compliance-minded MSP should have in their toolbox include:

  • 24x7 monitoring of their customer’s IT environments for threats and vulnerabilities
  • The ability to give priority context to the criticality of vulnerabilities found within an organization’s networks and endpoints
  • The ability to prevent unnecessary access to critical systems and infrastructure
  • Log aggregation and event correlation
  • Security awareness training
  • Compliance reporting

Understand Your Customer’s Assets

You can’t protect what you can’t see. Taking stock of your customers’ enterprise assets, including end-user devices, network devices, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and servers can play a big role in building a more effective compliance plan. Managed control of your customer’s assets is critical in planning and executing system backups, incident response, security monitoring, and recovery processing. Assessing these assets helps an MSP build a plan that protects customers’ most vulnerable services and settings.

Document Everything

One of the more challenging aspects of managing compliance is that it’s hard to prove a negative — if you’re doing it right, not much out of the ordinary will happen. That makes it essential for any MSP to plan on carefully documenting all of the steps your team has taken to ensure compliance. That includes compiling standard reports on the actions you’ve taken to fulfill the requirements of HIPAA, PCI DSS, and other industry-specific rules, as well as documenting all actions that demonstrate how your team has achieved each compliance requirement.

Bring In Outside Guidance as Needed

Most MSPs don’t have a deep stable of subject matter experts when it comes to compliance, so bringing in a team of third-party cybersecurity experts who have the knowledge and experience to guide customers through the constantly evolving demands of industry-based compliance just makes sense. Consider partnering with a security operations vendor with a concierge approach.

If your MSP is considering getting into the compliance management business, Arctic Wolf has the experience and expertise to make them a valued partner. Our cybersecurity experts have helped thousands of clients maintain compliance across a wide range of industries. If you have a customer with compliance challenges, contact us today to schedule a demonstration of our industry-leading cybersecurity and compliance solutions to maximize your customers’ peace of mind.

Jim Masters

Jim Masters is Managing Editor of MSSP Alert, and holds a B.A. degree in Journalism from Northern Illinois University. His career has spanned governmental and investigative reporting for daily newspapers in the Northwest Indiana Region and 16 years in a global internal communications role for a Fortune 500 professional services company. Additionally, he is co-owner of the Lake County Corn Dogs minor league baseball franchise, located in Crown Point, Indiana. In his spare time, he enjoys writing and recording his own music, oil painting, biking, volleyball, golf and cheering on the Corn Dogs.